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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Use Enterprise Suites For Best Practices; Use BPM Suites For Transformation

In June, Forrester convened a roundtable of some of its leading thought leaders on business process and customer experience to discuss empowering customers through business process transformation. This is also the topic of Forrester's Business Process Forum later in September and our Tweet Jam on September 8 from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm ET (hashtag: #BPF11).

What follows is an excerpt from that discussion. For more, download a free copy of the Forrester report “Empower Customers By Transforming Business Processes” (site registration required).

Connie Moore: Where are enterprise suites going now that the game-changers — mobile, cloud and social — are giving new life to some apps that were looking long in the tooth? Do you think that big enterprise suites like CRM or ERP can empower customers, or do they automate the status quo? If they merely automate the status quo, how do you deliver business transformation?

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Goodbye Yellow Brick Road?

Most Forrester readers certainly understand the importance of empowering their employees to contend with highly informed and increasingly demanding customers. But I’m often asked just how to overcome the process and data integrity challenges of apps or services that empower employees and/or drive continuity of experience for consumers across channels. With the rise of mobile as well as web and call center interactions and with a proliferation of new tools for managing distributed processes and data, most application development and delivery professionals as well as their business process and applications colleagues have to absorb all the arguments before they make decisions that could be critical to their firms’ futures – to say nothing of their own careers.

One pioneer whom I interviewed was immensely proud of his lightning rollout of a guerilla app to support his firm’s front office in advising clients on complex product choices. I asked him about future plans and sheepishly he admitted they would be starting again from scratch because the guerilla app was unable to leverage enterprise services exposing critical data about product offerings. He remarked ruefully that sometimes you do have to follow the IT standards “yellow brick road” rather than just head for the hills, but wouldn’t it be great to have the best of both worlds, with both agile deployment and full advantage taken of enterprise assets and data?

If you need a deeper understanding of the issues and options, then I’d like to invite you to join us at Forrester's Application Development & Delivery Forum, where my colleague Clay Richardson and I will discuss in practical terms how to deliver integrated experiences across multiple touchpoints.