Value co-creation and common accountability

A group of colleagues at the office

In today's connected world, service providers and clients share a common accountability to make business successful.

Rahul SoniThe way that some might have shrugged off accountability previously just doesn’t work now and, if this continues, the outcomes won’t be favourable.

Because our state of hyper connectivity makes people’s needs very variable – there are so many factors at play and there’s no one-size-fits all solution – it’s difficult to pinpoint areas of pain and customize products and services to everyone’s liking.

And while service providers and clients have historically operated in their own silos, flatter organizations mean these silos are breaking down and they are ultimately more connected.

The business risk of connectivity

In business and service delivery, perception is reality: even if previous interactions were satisfying, unhappy customers will forget those and focus on the most recent. This lasting impression can lead to people sharing their dissatisfaction with others. For example, a customer might sign up for 99% mobile phone availability but doesn’t appreciate the 1% downtime for planned maintenance.

Also, people’s level of digital multi-tasking is taking its toll on IT infrastructure and what performed well when tested in ideal, simulated circumstances won’t cover all the use scenarios for every customer.

Add to this service level agreements (SLAs), which can also be ambiguous – what the CIO feels the service should be and what the end user wants are often different.

Making common accountability a reality

The term common accountability brings a shiver to many people and tends to have them reaching for the contract first in outsourced relationships. It also means clients understanding that goodwill gestures from a service provider should be treated as such and not become business as usual.

Achieving this requires culture change, which is why having business relationship managers based locally to manage clients is better for communication and translating their requirements to offshore teams.

To benefit from outsourcing certain business functions, organizations need to be convinced of its value.

This includes having a qualified workforce aligned to tasks and utilizing their strengths to achieve business outcomes and reduce service variability.

Certainly, SLAs are there to reduce downtime for the business, but there should be common goals, which means the client must recognize the pros and cons of outsourcing while caring that the service provider is successful too.

ITIL® 4 and value

Co-creation of value, as described in ITIL 4, means adopting principles and not jumping in and out of the framework when we feel like it.

Value – the ultimate outcome – is what organizations are seeking and especially the value of digital technology. But this requires collaboration and shared accountability between clients and service providers and is something everyone has to make peace with.

In turn, the latest ITIL 4: Digital & IT Strategy (DITS) guidance shows that to be strategic, not everything needs converting to digital. For example, the introduction of “robo-advisers” by insurance companies should mean that their agents’ role is enhanced rather than diminished. Similarly, mobile banking doesn’t completely replace bank branches. However, where companies, such as Airbnb, are digital by default then digital transformation is done best by starting small, experimenting and failing fast.

A strategy moving forward

In the context of Covid-19, I think it’s a clear-cut direction for businesses to factor in service management to every contract.

Businesses are moving to cloud adoption to remain relevant and nimble. Meanwhile, they realize it’s not mandatory for people to work in one, confined building but also from home, as long as IT is secure and doesn’t endanger client data.

With the right processes and user enablement policies, people’s work can continue and organizations can move towards the benefits of common accountability.

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