Author, venture partner, and consultant Geoffrey Moore made a pitch for a technological revolution Friday afternoon in the closing speech at the AICPA’s spring Council meeting.
Consumer-facing business processes in professional services need to be re-engineered to accommodate the digital needs of clients and employees who already are using consumer technology, Moore said.
“Why are we going to do this?” he said. “We’re not going to do it to be cool. We’re not going to do it to please the millennials. We’re going to do it because there’s something about re-engineering our relationship with a digitally represented client that we think can add a lot of value now, and we need to meet expectations now.”
Moore said it’s time to invest in collaborative tools to communicate and interact with clients, making services more valuable because they are presented in a way that is convenient for and appealing to clients. He said the ideal system will be mobile, social, ad hoc, and real time, while interfacing with information storage systems.
A venture partner at Mohr Davidow Ventures, Moore is a market development, business, and investment strategist who has done consulting work for leading technology companies. His best-selling books include Crossing the Chasm, which describes marketing strategies to help high-tech companies deliver their products to a larger consumer base.
His presentation was called “Escape Velocity: Does Your Organization Need to Free Itself from the Pull of the Past?” He said the collaborative tools he described need to be adopted for organizations’ middle-tier employees, who he said do important work but have largely been ignored technologically except for getting laptops in the 1990s and BlackBerrys more recently.
Moore admitted that the changes he envisions would not appeal to every client. He said businesses must recognize the clients and employees with the ability and motivation to use the technology.
“Which of our clients are more early adopting than other ones?” he asked. “For God’s sake, don’t try it out with Mrs. Peterson. Right? Just bring her the paper and the quill. She likes to sign with a quill.”
Moore’s to-do list for businesses starts with conducting a serious, annual review of technology strategy and identifying highest-priority moments of engagement with clients. Every market-facing strategy is made or broken during those key moments with clients, he said, adding that the right tools can increase an organization’s effectiveness during those moments.
He said businesses should:
- Determine which tools would have the biggest impact on effectiveness in those key moments with clients.
- Calibrate ambitions with their organization’s technology adoption tendencies, such as whether employees tend to be innovators, pragmatists, or conservatives. He said it’s important to move at the right time.
- Recruit to the effort first those employees who tend to embrace new ideas.
- Engage with outside help to design and prototype the first new tools for communications and interactions
- Focus on user experience as the critical acceptance criterion.
- Get feedback from early adopters to create the case for applying the system to more pragmatic, less enthusiastic adopters.
- Align the technology to solve a particular issue that causes the pragmatists pain, and do whatever it takes to solve that issue.
- Once pragmatists are convinced, deploy a global roll-out.
There may be trauma associated with the change, Moore said.
“You’ll lose some clients,” he said. “But you’ll gain a lot of clients. At some point, you have to believe in that to make it work. At the same time, you may lose some employees. But you’ll gain some employees. That’s the game you’re playing.”
Above all, he said, a tool should be avoided if it does not increase collaboration with clients. And reducing costs is not a good reason for adoption, Moore said.
“In five or 10 years it probably will be a time for cost reduction,” Moore said. “That’s not why you would do it now. You would do it now because ‘I want to change the dynamics of my relationship with a client to make my value-added services more valuable because they appear at the right time in the right way.’ ”
—Ken Tysiac (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a JofA senior editor.