Transitioning to Customer-Driven Architectures: A Conversation with Trevor Cheung

By The Open Group

Digitalization is driving massive changes across the IT landscape. To adapt to the changes brought about by new technologies, organizations are beginning to move away from traditional IT-centric architectures to new customer-driven ones. By aligning business needs with a more “outside-in” perspective, companies can evolve their Enterprise Architectures to adapt to customer, employee and partner needs across the entire business ecosystem.

In advance of the The Open Group San Francisco 2016, we spoke with plenary speaker Trevor Cheung, Vice President of Strategy and Architecture Practice from Huawei Global Technical Services, about the importance of taking a more customer-driven approach to architectures and how organizations can transition their technical infrastructures to adapt more rapidly to business changes. That conversation follows here.

Why is a customer-driven approach so important for getting the transformation to digitalization correct?

One thing I’ve realized is that many architects take a very inside-out approach to IT. We are now facing a very competitive environment and things are changing very fast so architects must be able to support the business. Many people say IT must change at the speed of business change, but change in terms of what? One thing we need to understand is that the stakeholder experience is very important—we need to understand the consumer, enterprise workforce, management and the public. What do they need? When do they need it? How would they like their demands met? That’s why we believe architecture can’t just be inside out. It must consider both the outside-in and inside-out perspectives.

How would you describe a customer-driven architecture? How does that differ from traditional architectures?

Traditional architectures focus a lot on business process and work flow. With a customer-driven architecture, the key terms would be personas and the customer journey. Those should drive or influence the revenue stream and business processes—that may be the best way to understand it. Outside-in is about designing and delivering customer journeys and experiences, tailored for each persona. Whereas with the inside-out, traditional approach, revenue streams are value propositions that you map back to the supporting business processes.

How can companies ensure that their architectures are more customer-driven?

First of all, adopting this architectural approach is very important. To apply this business architecture approach, you employ the value stream technique to map to external customer journeys. This is the technique I think people should apply. With customer experience, in the market there are very well written architectures for IT staff. Huawei and PA Consulting are part of The Open Group Digital Business and Customer Experience Work Group. What we’ve tried to do is get the architects and IT people to understand the customer experience better and speak the same language.

At Huawei, we believe in an experience principle called ROADS—this experience principle will be adopted whenever we try to design a service or application for consumers, the internal workforce and even for partners. It stands for Real-time, On-demand, All-Online, DIY and Social. This is what we believe; this is our fundamental driving tenet.

How is ROADS different from what most customers experience today and what can companies do to position themselves to offer the ROADS experience?

The business motivation and technologies should be matched in a way that enables digital transformation. For example, in The Open Group, there is the Open Platform 3.0Forum that talks about the Cloud, analytics and also integration middleware. In order to be successful, we need to deploy new technologies so we can understand what people want and then perform the application development for integration, using the data we store in the Cloud. In traditional IT, data was spread across different data servers so that analytics, and the resulting insights, were not possible to achieve.

However, having the core technology on the IT side is not sufficient. We must also consider the network side because now people would like to use applications on different devices, like notebooks and smartphones, so connectivity issues are very important. Now we are talking about mobile 2K and 4K videos coming, especially in Korea, where video is getting very popular. Connectivity and the quality of services to the home, office or hotels must be assured as well.

So not just on the architecture side, but also the technology side, we need to not only be looking at the Cloud, data analytics, and the way to have integration middleware, but also connectivity as well.

Will customer-driven architectures affect every industry moving forward? Which are being most affected now?

I had a conversation with a Forrester principal analyst. We find in China, Ali Baba has been acting on this experience-driven architecture very successfully. Because they’ve applied this customer experience architecture approach, they know what kind of capabilities they need, and how different applications connect with each other so they can react to business changes in a very orderly and timely manner. Another company we talked about was Merchant Bank—they are widely considered to deliver the best experience in the Chinese market. Of course, Huawei, is acting on this in our design as well.

What are companies like that doing well in terms of the customer driven experience?

If you use the applications that we call over-the-top, when you try to use them and something is not working well, we see that these OTT companies are very quick to act. Working with ecosystem partners and using techniques such as AB testing, they can quickly test the markets or user preferences. How can they do that? Primarily, they are customer-driven, they know what customers want and what they are looking for, and they use the power of data analytics to do this.

Let’s look at Amazon – Amazon has AWS. They do a very good job of offering Cloud computing services, both PaaS and IaaS. They can offer people services to build applications or buy storage, you can do it any time you like, online and on-demand, whatever you want, no matter the development, testing or integration environment. They also have a good social forum so users can learn from each other, and they have virtual machines for real-time installations. Whereas the old, traditional IT approach is slow, we’re now applying application middleware so people can do these things very fast and with a good experience. Huawei now has its own public cloud—Huawei Enterprise Cloud Service—which we’ve built in a similar fashion, and we’ve really focused on the customer experience.

How can standards help in driving a more customer-driven architecture and experience?

First of all, standards can help to get people speaking the same language. When one person calls something an ‘apple’ and another calls it by a different name, this becomes a serious roadblock or obstacle to getting things adopted. Second, once communication is there, discipline experts can work together to try to deliver what the business or customer would like in terms of the outcomes. We should also define corresponding metrics—what are the correct and important metrics that will impact business performance and need to be defined and benchmarked. Huawei has been leading this aspect in the communications industry, performing business outcome calculations for the past four years and leading the way to understand and adopt personal experience management.

Digital transformation is now—the technologies are ready. There are lots of technologies that are becoming mature enough to be deployed, but the important thing is how can we bring business and technology together to deliver the business outcomes? The Digital and Customer Experience Work Group will be publishing two whitepapers that will provide guidance for Enterprise and Business Architects, Business Operations Managers, Customer Experience and Marketing professionals that will help them move toward a more customer-based digital transformation.

By The Open Group

Trevor Cheung is Vice President of Strategy and Architecture Practice within Huawei Global Services. In this role, Trevor has a broad focus, including digital transformation,  customer experience management, Cloud, Enterprise Architecture, platform strategy, IT4IT™, Internet of Things and Design Thinking. Trevor is also founder of Huawei’s Customer Experience Transformation Center (CETC), which now has centers in Shenzhen and London.

Trevor has 20-years experience in technology and business leadership, specializing in providing thought leadership, creation of best practices and ecosystem development.

Prior to joining Huawei, Trevor served at Motorola between 1996 and 2011, successfully leading strategy, product management and engineering functions, culminating in his role as the Global Head of Services Strategy Alliance and Product Management.

Trevor has a B.Eng. from University College London, and M.B.A. from China Europe International Business School. He has attended Executive Education courses and seminars from Harvard Business School, Boston University and MIT Sloan. Trevor is a Certified Net Promoter Associate.

 

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