Focusing on the customer experience (as discussed in Focus on the Customer) is important in creating good digital solutions, but we can take it even further by ensuring the digital happiness of your customers. It’s about going beyond them being satisfied with they way your products and services work, and into making them feel that their lives are truly improved.
It starts with a view that is centered on the needs of the customer, so instead of asking “what can we do with the digital capabilities that we have?” we ask “what does the customer really want, and how can we create the digital capabilities that it requires?”. Just like Nicolaus Copernicus forced us to realize that the sun is the center of our universe, we need to embrace the sixty year old message from Peter Drucker to make our customers the center of our world. This outside-in perspective will help us create a digital platform that has built-in capabilities to ensure digital happiness. For example, we need to handle the paradox of intimacy, where data about the customer enable us to create a personalised experience, while we need to avoid coming through as “creepy” or “uncanny”. Another important aspect is that everyone likes delightful things, so how can you create a digital experience that is beautiful? It’s not only about appearance like graphical design, but about how a complete experience can be a thing of beauty.
My experience is that well designed digital platforms can enable the touch points (webs, apps, bots, connected things) to move faster than the back-end systems can change. It includes generic omnichannel services that provide the core functionality, which get the data from the back-end systems transformed into a master data model. They are the foundation on which the specific services for each touch point is built, and all services are supported by common capabilities for security, administration, and automation. So when back-end systems lack a specific capability, this setup allows us to create temporary solutions that satisfy the customer need (for happiness), and with careful consideration of service interface design, the temporary solution can later be replaced when the back-end systems catch up. This means no more “no” from IT, but instead that the channels can move on fast. An interesting detail is that the common services can have built-in support for important attributes of a beautiful solution that contribute to digital happiness, like privacy and transparency.
Many of my fellow architects share similar experiences, and that is why we agreed on the following general principle:
Our highest priority is to ensure the digital happiness of
the customer by creating beautiful solutions, being
transparent, and respecting customer values.
It’s something we strongly support and promote, and therefore it has been included as the first principle in our Architecture Manifesto.