Don't forget the customer

The most important thing with enterprise architecture is the method and tools you use.

This is NOT true! 

The most important thing with enterprise architecture is to have satisfied customers that values the products och services so much that they are willing to pay for the benefit of using them.

Often, more as a rule than an exception, IT-related projects are much focused on the internal life in the company than the benefits for paying customers outside the company.

However, the customer experience is an important factor if you what to be in the business for a long period. 

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Lets see three examples from different industry sectors. 

The regulations changes in the Swedish and Nordic electricity market and there are new requirements for billing and monthly meter readings as well as possibility mo measure hourly consumption. The focus have been on the internal requirements to just fulfill the regulations, not the customers needs. What if I as a customer in a simple way could see a graph of my consumption for the last day, last week and last month on the web or in a mobile app, instead of just a kWh reading on the paperbill each month.

The customer service for a local bank or an swedish insurance company closes down during the evening so you can’t get information about your holdings

or insurances. What if you as a customer would like to have a new car insurance after 10 pm or transfer money between your accounts. 

The traditional way of campaign management is to make campaigns for a selected group of customers and send direct advertising to them. Eventually you would follow up the campaign to measure the effect. But how do you as a customer react on unwanted e-mails from companies or phone calls from sales representatives? How would you like to have it as a customer? 

Amazon is a very good example how to make things easy for the customer. You can order on-line 24-hours a day and have always updated information about your current order, shipping status and history. If you search for some items, then they send you e-mails with suggestions of similar products unless you already bought something from them. 

The question is what will happen to those companies that still relies on the old business model where the customer had to adopt to the company practice? My belief is that when the products or services become commoditized, the the customer interaction is crucial for the survival of the company. 

How does this impact enterprise architecture then? As architects, we have to look at the company from an outside-in perspective, so that out products and services helps the customer to get their job to be done. 

The simplest way of this is looking of the use-case for a customer. It is possible to buy a used car at any time during day or night, therefore should it be possible to get a quote for a new insurance around the clock. You should also be able to transfer the money direct to the seller of the car. 

If you as an insurance company can’t answer on such a request, but your competitors can. Do you think you will get the deal? Probably not. What if your savings account isn’t accessible all time. Would you still be customer for this bank?

The next articles will cover the tools and methods what we need in order to work with enterprise architecture.