Aligning strategy, process excellence and technology in the age of the customer: Interview with MatsSoft’s Martin Scovell

PEX Network recently spoke to MatsSoft CEO, Martin Scovell for our industry report, 'Drive strategic performance through Process Excellence'. The conversation explored why companies are now embracing broad investment in new tools and technologies, and how these new tools play a part in future business strategy..

The conversation offered up key insights from someone who, as CEO of a leading BPM provider, has seen first hand the growth of process excellence and the key role that technology has played in that. As such, we thought you'd enjoy the conversation. We hope you enjoy the interview below, and when you're finished, don't forget to grab yourself a copy of the report too.

MatsSoft CEO, Martin Scovell

PEX Network: Why do you think more companies are looking to invest in all categories of technologies this year as opposed to last?

Martin Scovell: Given that the economy is recovering from the biggest recession since the 1930’s; no one will be surprised to see technology investment rising at present. That much is obvious, but what is more interesting is that what firms are choosing to invest in isn’t the same today as it was before the recession. Gartner’s 2014 CEO Survey makes this clear; CEOs are keen to invest in customer-facing areas such as digital marketing, e-commerce and customer experience management. By comparison, focus on back office IT investment has declined.

Forrester’s "Age of the Customer" research predicts that investment in what they call "systems of engagement" will overtake back-office IT investment by 2018. Correspondingly, responsibility for such projects is increasingly devolved to business departments, rather than centrally controlled by IT.

This is a tremendous opportunity for firms like MatsSoft that have a pedigree not just in process automation, but in customer experience improvement as well. For projects such as this, platforms that can deliver improvements in days rather than months, have much more appeal compared to the heavy weight technology vendors that were once favoured by IT.

The ability to provide instant and intuitive platforms for business improvement via the Cloud, and the ability to take a share-of-risk / share-of-reward approach with clients, is enabling a new and innovative class of technology vendors to liberate clients from the constraints previously imposed by centralised IT and monolithic procurement arrangements.

PEX Network: Do you think technology is becoming more of a strategic issue for process excellence?

Martin Scovell: It has always been strategic; it just has not always been very popular. For years the regrettable experience of many process excellence professionals has been that however fast they propose process improvements that streamline operations and raise customer service levels, IT has struggled to keep up. Constrained resources, long work queues and then the complexity and time required for development, have been a real barrier to implementing quick business improvements.

The advent of "low-code" development platforms that are available instantly via the Cloud, means process excellence initiatives can be unshackled from many of the restraints previously associated with technology projects. It’s really exciting to work in a domain where technology can be instantly available, immediately intuitive and incredibly quick to deliver results, without the need for hard-core programming.

PEX Network: How can technology help better align process improvement with corporate strategic objectives?

Martin Scovell: Linking process improvement to top-level strategy is the most significant and growing concern expressed in this year’s PEX member survey. Perhaps it’s more difficult to improve such alignment in a rising economy, because business leaders have more appetite for risk and radical innovation, which can easily sideswipe the best-made plans for process improvement.

Various industry surveys tell us that customer experience improvement, powered by digital innovation is a top priority for businesses today. Improving customer experience across multiple channels is a top priority for many businesses.

In this respect IT specialists, business people and process excellence specialists all need to collaborate better. Digital innovation that better serves customers really has to be a team effort. Low-code development platforms, that enable business and process excellence stakeholders to retain a simple common language that they both understand, are well suited to this challenge.

By reducing the need for resource-constrained programming, solutions can be built so quickly, that an agile and iterative approach can be taken. It’s an approach termed "Test and Learn" by Forrester amongst others. The agility and speed which stem from this approach, can significantly assist in the quest to improve alignment between strategy, process design and technology delivery.

That’s because you get results before the need has changed. You retain the involvement of business stakeholders – who don’t have time to lose interest. All stakeholders can see and understand what is being built, instead of development only being intelligible to highly trained technologists. In summary, speed and superior collaboration enable better alignment.