The Tunnel is the Illusion

by Wiemer KuikMarch 8, 2019

It started as a fairly typical technical project. They had heard about Machine Learning and wanted to first know what it is. So none of our usual business first themes, just straightforward machine learning and what you can do with it.

Our CTO and team again did a great job and it resulted in the first design thinking project and a few sprints. Lot’s of data, interesting questions, some real out of the box thinking resulted in a few cool prototypes and MVP’s. Prototypes morphed into working versions that suddenly gave them insight in the real value of their data. Suddenly budget appeared to roll-out the first working version to be tested life with users, the next step on the way to implementation.

Parallel to the first project they started to see the light about innovation, digital opportunities. We jointly created a digital playground.

Jointly as that is the only way to make real business relevant products come to live. The digital playground gave plenty of new ideas, one of them was added to our innovation stack. More design thinking workshops, more field research, more talking to real users. Fun! My brilliant machine learning team made the mvp work. I created a few videos on youtube that showcased the potential. That simple set of videos was used internal on a large scale to show the art of the possible, the potential of new digital tech based on their own data, their own business model. Videos create traction.

Both projects added new speak to their lingo. Experimentation, ideation, learn fast, fail fast, they all started using that. Now more SLA first. Employee experience (EX) first. Can a better EX result in a better CX, influence our NPS. The importance of not listening to managers, listen to the users, they know best.

And a lot of our internal mantras were adopted as well. Adoption is King – start with the users, end with the user. Business value can only be created when the solution is being used. No Training – apply CX thinking to the employee, focus on the EX. If they need training to use it, you failed. The circle of 3 – find the intersection of feasibility, desirability and business. Ignore one of the 3 and fail. Start with why – start with the business goals and the metrics and overlay them in all the machine learning, integration and measure steps.

One of our predictions we give our customers is the 1 to 25 effect. Once they implement just 1 small solution, the value of our approach of machine learning becomes in your face. You will see the internal organization come forward with at least 24 other ideas. “Can we go first with the next MVP?” If you have a great team, a kick ass CTO, and some business savviness injected this 1>25 is bound to happen. For sure. In the process the Trifork team and the customer have to figure out traditional project funding does not work well with the new way of working. Fixed budgets for flexible projects. SLA for experimentation – not a great match. Learning happens on this front as well.

If all goes well the, for me, most interesting stage of the digital growth is happening with our customer. The moment they start realizing that all these projects, how tech digital they may start, force them to rethink their business model.

We start having workshops about value propositions, about business model canvas. BMC and VPC become part of the project. Emotions start flowing, aren’t we too late? I can share a Chinese diamond of wisdom – the best moment to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best moment is now.

This customer this week suddenly realized their existing business model based on reactive site repairs due to the new insights is transforming into proactive customer mobility care. Always a privilege to be part of that journey.

So now the data start results in us helping them to come up with new pricing models for all the new services they envision. That moment one of the drawings I used in the beginning sinks in: The light at the end of the tunnel is not the illusion. The tunnel is.