Customer-Driven Business Transformation: A Discussion With Trustmark CIO Dan Simpson

Dan Simpson understands business transformation - and the critical role the customer plays in it. Before joining Trustmark, Dan led the Enterprise Technology Group at Physicians Mutual in Omaha, Neb., where he was the driving force behind the company’s business transformation strategy and the Greenfield program, which implemented new customer-centric business processes, service-oriented architecture (SOA), a new enterprise data warehouse, and several key business applications. For these efforts, Dan was recognized as Technology Chief of the Year in 2010 by the Applied Information Management Institute.

I spoke with Dan in preparation for his keynote next week at Forrester's Application Development & Delivery Forum.

Q: What are the business challenges and issues that typically motivate the need for business and IT transformation?

Dan Simpson: Common challenges facing business today include changes in market conditions, consumer behavior, and the regulatory environment as well as increasing competition and complexity. The inability to adapt to these changes drives the need to put new business process and technology foundations in place.

Q: How have you approached business process redesign?

Dan Simpson: The most effective approach is to focus on business process first before diving into systems. Depending on specific situations, I’ve seen great value in taking an approach where processes redesign starts and ends with the customer. This customer-driven approach helps drive customer-friendly decisions and efficiencies.

Q: What is a customer-driven application, and why is that concept important to transformation outcomes?

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Continuous Improvement Isn't Enough — Senior Execs Seek Business Transformation

Steve Spear not only lectures at MIT and leads workshops on continuous process improvement throughout the US and Europe, but he has also authored a book on the topic called The High-Velocity Edge. Most interesting is how close Steve gets to his subject; he’s not content to observe from afar. For example, he embedded himself into a Toyota team to develop a tier one supplier and has since then worked with Toyota on supplier leadership development. He worked with a hospital’s clinical staff to eliminate terrible complications like infections and patient falls while increasing capacity and reducing cost; he also helped develop and deploy the Alcoa Business System at Alcoa. Steve’s clients range from healthcare providers to manufacturers to food service companies to high-tech companies — making him conversant in businesses producing everything from potato chips to microchips. As a result, he not only speaks as an academic authority, but can also claim insight into how work gets done in the real world.

Steve will speaking at Forrester’s Business Process Forum, which will be held on September 22 and 23 in Boston, and recently participated in a teleconference with Craig Le Clair and me. You can download that teleconference free of charge here.

What follows is an excerpt from the Forrester report “A Battle Cry For Clarity In Business Process Improvement Approaches.”

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What Will Business Processes Look Like In 2020?

Have you ever thought seriously about the future of business processes? If not, it’s time to. With trends coming at us fast and furious — business transformation, the age of the customer, mobility, cloud, social, process outsourcing — processes of the future will look very different from how we work today.

Forrester is in the process (pardon the pun) of looking at business processes in 2020. We’ve interviewed 10 major thought leaders at large global organizations and a number of systems integrators and vendors in the BPM space. Wow, have we learned a lot from these deep thinkers! Many of the trends they identified are already being actively worked on in their companies — so these are not just pipe dreams — and include:

  • A major strategic alignment between business process transformation and customer experience
  • Very little concern about technology issues — because they believe the technology will work well (and this is not what keeps them up at night even now)
  • A major focus on standardizing processes across the globe so that work can easily flow to the lowest-cost labor at any given moment
  • The belief that processes will run in the cloud (private or public) and that businesses will consume processes-as-a-platform
  • A strong conviction that IT will largely vanish into the business
  • The need for access to global talent pools driving some of the need for business process transformation
  • The expectation that being dynamic and turning on a dime will be critically important
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