Deliver a System of Engagement

Incorporate Gartner’s Pace-Layered Application Strategy

In case you’re not familiar with it, allow me to introduce Gartner’s Pace-Layered Application Strategy as a potential option when considering setting in place a System of Engagement for your customers. Simply put – pace layering categorizes an organization’s IT systems based on the rate at which they can and should change to meet the needs of the business. This helps you review and categorize priorities when putting together your System of Engagement. These systems are classified by Gartner into three layers:

  • Systems of RecordEstablished packaged applications or legacy home-grown systems that support core transaction processing and manage the organization’s critical master data. The rate of change is low because the processes are well-established and common to most organizations, and often are subject to regulatory requirements. In the banking sector, for example, this would be your core banking systems delivered by vendors like CSC (Hogan), Fiserv (Signature), Oracle (FLEXCUBE), among many others. These systems are not replaced or even modified regularly. When they do change it’s a carefully planned and executed project (and often multi-year projects).
  • Systems of DifferentiationApplications that enable unique company processes or industry-specific capabilities. They have a medium life cycle (one to three years) but need to be reconfigured frequently to accommodate changing business practices or customer requirements. Continuing with the core banking theme, Systems of Differentiation are things like BPM or workflow systems designed to take advantage of new capabilities quickly. For example, if you may want to incorporate an online identity verification service for customer onboarding. You should be able to do this in months and weeks (not years).
  • Systems of InnovationNew applications that are built on an ad hoc basis to address new business requirements or opportunities. These are typically short life cycle projects (zero to 12 months) using departmental or outside resources and consumer-grade technologies. You can view these sorts of systems in two ways. One, as things like web content management systems which allow you to push information online fast (even in minutes). In either case, agility and speed are critical for a fast time to market.
Gartner's Pace-Layered Application Strategy

Pace-Layered Architecture

The reality is, many business systems cross these boundaries. A web content management system actually could be both a System of Differentiation and a System of Innovation. But the concept is nonetheless a useful way for an organization to view its enterprise architecture and ensure that the agility to differentiate and innovate exists and that the business is not held back by the lack of agility in its core business systems. Reviewing and assessing your systems allows you to better build and plan your move to a System of Engagement.

Geoffrey Moore, author of Crossing the Chasm, coined the term “System of Engagement” as a way to redefine the way organizations “think about information management, control, and governance in order to deal with social technologies.”(AIIM Report, “A Sea Change in IT”) Review this Wall Street Journal post here for more information.)

Challenges of a System of Engagement

Even when reviewing and considering your systems according to Gartner’s Pace-Layered Application strategy, it doesn’t mean an easy transition to a System of Engagement, particularly for an enterprise. If your business is retail (say you sell sporting goods), and you’ve just received the latest in ski technology – then a great eCommerce web content management platform will allow you to easily deliver a System of Engagement and:

  1. Upload the product to your product catalog and start selling it immediately;
  2. Deploy images of the product with zoom and even 3D rotation capabilities in minutes;
  3. Immediately upload video content which could be demonstrations, reviews, etc.;
  4. Create special offers and schedule or immediately send emails to your customer list within the same platform;
  5. etc.

But, if you’re a bank and you have just gotten approval for a new credit card product, your current enterprise architecture will probably only allow you to:

  1. Create content on your website about the new product (hours);
  2. Create personalized landing pages and hero images on your home page for anyone searching for credit cards (days);
  3. Establish new business processes to prioritize applications for the new product within work queues to ensure applications are quickly processed and social media feedback on the process is positive (days);
  4. Create a PDF application form for the new product (days); OR Create an online mobile form for the new product (MONTHS!!!)

So – you can get people to your website quickly, but enabling them to transact online involves software developers, time and money. It’s far from innovative or a point of differentiation. Systems of Innovation, in particular, can be complicated to deliver in an enterprise environment, and they are critical for developing a true System of Engagement. Enabling customers to transact with your organization online can be the weakest link in your attempts to innovate or differentiate.

Weakest Link in Systems of Engagement

Unfortunately the transaction ‘point of impact’ can often be the weakest link between organizations and their clients.
This is where innovation most needs to happen.

Connect Your Systems of Record to your Systems of Differentiation and Innovation with TxM

Transaction Experience Management (TxM) takes a platform approach to enabling non-retail transactions to occur online by leveraging features in the platform that are configured – not developed. It allows you to bridge the gap or re-link the chain between your transactions and your Systems of Record by introducing a System of Innovation and therefore deliver a System of Engagement.

Each of these high-stakes transactions requires the collection of information (form data, photos, supporting documents, payments, etc.) that is required to update your Systems of Record. When this happens, new accounts are opened, claims are lodged, license applications are assessed, customer details are updated, etc.

Now – from advertising to approval, organizations outside of retail can benefit from the kind of end-to-end agility enjoyed by eCommerce organizations for years and deliver a System of Engagement.

Don Bergal
Don Bergal

Don is CMO, building and leading worldwide marketing at Avoka. He has a successful 25 year record of growing technology businesses in marketing, operations, and sales management, particularly with early stage and high growth companies.

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