Outside-In, Inside-Out: How Customer Experience Design and Business Architecture Work Together

Published

February 15, 2021

Updated

April 5, 2021

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Summary
This installment of StraightTalk focuses on the topic of customer experience design and explores what it is, why it is important, and how it fits hand-in-hand with business architecture.

Customer centricity is now arguably a necessity for an organization to succeed. Human-Centered Design (HCD) has brought the essential human perspective and empathy to the forefront. When combined with business architecture though, we have a powerhouse for marrying the outside-in with the inside-out to help organizations maximize their customer value delivery – and results.

This installment of StraightTalk focuses on the topic of customer experience design and explores what it is, why it is important, and how it fits hand-in-hand with business architecture. And, we brought in two guest stars to help: Krishan Jogia and Fran Mether. Both have serious experience in this space and artfully weave together the practical and theoretical perspectives.

Krishan and Fran are both from Evolve & Amplify, a problem-solving advisory firm specializing in delivering executable strategic advice that’s human-centered. Krishan is the Managing Director and Chief Strategist at Evolve & Amplify. His passion is helping senior executives design business models and strategies that achieve their vision. Fran is a Principal Consultant at Evolve & Amplify, where she heads up the Research, Design, and Innovation practice. Fran is passionate about helping organizations navigate through complexity by understanding their customer needs and aligning them to business goals to innovate and improve the way in which they deliver their services.

Disclaimer: we’ve abbreviated the responses and made some tiny adjustments for our typical StraightTalk-style: the blue headings represent StraightTalk asking the questions and our guests, Krishan and Fran, respond in turn. Make sure to check out their full podcast firsthand so that you will not miss a word: How Business Architecture and Customer Experience Design Work Together. It’s pure gold and includes some rich, additional conversation not included here.

First things first. What is Human-Centered Design and specifically what is customer experience design and service design? 

Fran: “We tend to use the term Human-Centered Design as an overarching bucket for things such as service design, customer experience, and user experience design. In essence, Human-Centered Design is about understanding people, defining the challenges, defining the pain points – and we do this through research activities. It helps us define problems that we can solve through design. The main purpose of Human-Centered Design is around delivering that value to people, whoever they may be.

When we think about customer experience design, we focus on organizations and their customers. Practitioners develop artifacts such as personas, journey maps, and value network maps.

Service design is about developing great services for the people that need them. There are three aspects: being customer-centric, being holistic in the approach (outside-in + inside-out), and using co-design to bring the right people together. The main point is to drive evidence-based research so we can prioritize what we need to do for a particular customer to improve their journey."

P.S. The BIZBOK® Guide (Section 3.13) also recognizes Human-Centered Design as an overarching framework and refers to the definition of experience design as “the practice of designing products (including digital products), processes, services, events, omnichannel journeys, and environments with a focus placed on the quality of the user experience and culturally relevant solutions.”1 The section is specifically oriented around customer experience design, focusing on the experience a customer has across every touchpoint of an organization’s brand. The section refers to the definition of service design as a “process in which the designer focuses on creating optimal service experiences. This requires taking a holistic view of all the related actors, their interactions, and supporting materials and infrastructures.”2

Why are HCD techniques and perspectives so important for an organization? How can they impact business outcomes? 

Krishan: “This is a great question because ultimately we are doing all of this to ensure we are achieving our business outcomes. Unfortunately, we notice that many organizations don’t realize the importance until their expected outcomes aren’t achieved. There’s a great book called Exploring Strategy which outlines the importance of having multiple perspectives to paint a rich, 360-degree view of an organization. The book talks about looking at strategy from a perspective that is logical and rational but then looking at the experience as well which is where customer experience (CX) comes into it. When we talk about experience, we are essentially looking backward as well so then you need to look at strategy from an innovation perspective and ultimately, and sometimes most importantly, how it’s being communicated to the people who need to buy in and execute it. These different perspectives are really important to ensure coverage of that whole range.”

Fran: “These different perspectives are so important and what we’re seeing drive success through the work that we do is making sure we bring the right people into the conversation, related to that co-design aspect I mentioned earlier.”   

How do you leverage the business architecture and customer experience design disciplines and roles together?

Fran: “They really go hand-in-hand. It’s really important for us as an organization to bring the two different types of practitioners together. Often we will be working on a strategy project and the people in the Human-Centered Design space will kick off the project and delve into understanding the problems of the organization and what we are developing. They work directly with the business architects to capture that data, ensuring it gets integrated right into the strategy from the get-go.”

Krishan: “There are a couple of perspectives I’d like to highlight. The first is the delivery model of how we deliver the outcomes for our customers and ensure that people with different skill sets can work together. We invest in a lot of training in our people so that they can not only go deep in their vertical or specialty, but also have a horizontal understanding of the full strategy to execution journey as well and what the handoffs and dependencies are. We’re a team, so we need to make sure that we’re all as strong as each other.

Secondly, from a practical perspective, once our workshops kick-off and we’re doing stakeholder interviews, as the CX team is doing the journey mapping and research, we make sure that our business architects are in the room as well. We start with the Guild reference models and identify capabilities applicable to the project. We also build out an information and business concept model on the fly. While the CX team is running the workshop, the business architects are capturing the nouns as we go. Later we rationalize and finalize the capability and information maps, tailoring the reference models as needed. This approach also helps us to avoid stakeholder fatigue. When we run workshops with customers, we gain the data points from a Human-Centered Design perspective but fit them right into the business architecture.”   

P.S. Check out the handy diagram below which gives you a quick visual of how the journey maps in customer experience design align with the value streams and capabilities in business architecture.

customer journey representation

Customer Journey & Business Architecture Alignment (Retail Example)

Download the graphic below titled Customer Journey & Business Architecture Alignment (Retail Example) in PDF or PNG format.
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But, there’s more to the story. Here’s a key excerpt from the BIZBOK® Guide (Section 3.13) which provides further detail on the relationships: “At the highest level, a customer journey can simply be cross-mapped to one or more value streams. However, the key linkage between business architecture and customer experience design is the cross-mapping from the customer journey stage to the value stream stage. A customer journey stage may be cross-mapped to one or more value stream stages. At a more granular level, business architecture and customer experience design can be linked through the cross-mapping from the value item to the touchpoint. Since capabilities are cross-mapped to the value stream stages they enable, by extension a relationship is made from capabilities to the customer journey stages they enable. At the more granular level, a capability outcome is related to a value item, which in turn is connected to a customer journey touchpoint(s).”  

Furthermore, the BIZBOK® Guide (Section 3.13) gives us some solid guidance on how business architecture relates to service design. Here’s another excerpt: “The key linkage between business architecture and service design is through business architecture’s product entitlement concept and the service design service. From a business architecture perspective, a service is represented as a product entitlement, where a product in business architecture includes both tangible goods and intangible services.” In addition, note that “Business architecture and its relationships to related disciplines such as business process and IT architecture provide concrete, reusable perspectives that may be referenced on a service blueprint.”   

In terms of roles, should a practitioner be skilled in and responsible for both customer experience design and business architecture – or should they focus on one or the other and then partner closely with the other role? 

Krishan: “My opinions on this have changed over the years and the space is continuing to evolve. At the moment, my thinking is that you have to be cross-trained in both. If you’re running a multi-disciplinary team – and working under time pressures as well – you need to be able to speak the same language. If you are a CX architect or designer, you need to make sure that the outputs you generate are going to meet the requirements of who is working downstream from you. If you are doing the capability modeling or value stream mapping, you need to know how they are going to be anchored to what the CX team has delivered."  

Any final thoughts?

Fran: “This is an amazing space to work in. We see the benefits of bringing business architecture and customer experience together. It drives so much value for our customers and so we are real advocates for it and we promote this approach.”

Krishan: “We know that over the last year and longer, more and more people in the strategy and business architecture realm are understanding the importance of all things Human-Centered Design. We’ve seen that become more prominent on a project level. One of our goals at Evolve & Amplify is to make sure that is being lifted up from a project perspective to the enterprise level. We consider it an evolution and advancement for people to be considering both perspectives.

I think we need to look beyond just the involvement of practitioners working together in the business architecture and HCD space though. Now it’s really time to focus on information management because ultimately what we want to avoid is point-in-time insights. If you have your business architecture knowledge assets in one place and your CX artifacts buried in another place (often the Adobe Creative Suite of products), then it can be challenging to look at them from a 360-degree perspective, interrogate them, and give your senior executives actionable insights about decisions to be made. The opportunity that’s being missed is ensuring the data-points from these products become reusable knowledge assets that live in a repository related to other views of the business. From our perspective, until the information is in the same place, the relationships are mapped, and the interrogation is possible, we are not going to see the full benefit of business architects and HCD practitioners working together.”

Refer to their article for further information.     

More Good Stuff...

How Business Architecture and Customer Experience Design Work Together (StraightTalk podcast): Just in case you missed that link right there in the beginning, make sure to check out the amazing podcast with Krishan and Fran, which was the basis for this post.

Evolving the CX Practitioner: The Skills and Mindset of the New CX Architect:  (Evolve & Amplify): An article by Krishan Jogia and Fran Mether on how CX practitioners can evolve their skills and mindset to understand key strategy and business design concepts, and how the voice of the customer can help drive the strategy of an entire organization. Another version of this article is also published in Architecture & Governance.

HCD + Business Architecture Presentations: Learn from your friends. Check out these excellent presentations from previous Guild Business Architecture Innovation Summits.

Practical Business Architecture (Intersection): Check out this talk by Whynde Kuehn at the November 2020 Intersection conference describing what makes business architecture practical and how it can be leveraged within an Enterprise Design context, supported by a customer experience case study.

StraightTalk No. 16 and 5-Minutes with Mike Clark: The Connection Between Business Architecture and Customer Experience: More StraightTalk on the topic from Mike Clark, another star in the business architecture + design space.

Business Architecture for Superior CX Design (Whynde Kuehn, Cutter Consortium): This on-demand webinar reveals how, through the combination of business architecture and customer experience design, organizations can gain more insight into where and how to align and transform their business models so they can focus on the ongoing needs of their customers while driving organizational efficiencies.

Business Architecture and the Customer Experience: A Comprehensive Approach for Turning Customer Needs into Action (BA Guild): The original 2016 Guild white paper established the tie between customer experience design and business architecture.

Section 3.13 of the BIZBOK® Guide (Business Architecture Guild® membership required): A must-read BIZBOK® Guide section that describes the formal alignment of business architecture and customer experience design. (Section available from BIZBOK® Guide version 10.0 and onwards.)

Business Architecture and Customer Experience Design webinar (Business Architecture Guild®): Check out the recorded webinar on this topic. (Requires Guild membership.)

Aligning Customer Experience with Business Architecture (Chris Coumbe, Autodesk): A case study based on the Autodesk presentation delivered at the March 2018 Guild Business Architecture Innovation Summit on the benefits of aligning customer experience and business architecture.

Here are a few recommendations from Fran for further immersion on service design.

Exploring Strategy (book by Gerry Johnson): Recommended by Krishan, this book is an essential introduction to strategy and looks at how organizations prosper, grow, innovate, and change.

Intersection: How Enterprise Design Bridges the Gap between Business, Technology, and People (book by Milan Guenther): An excellent read on enterprise design that joins identity, experience, and architecture.

The First Secret of Design is…Noticing (TED Talk): An interesting TED Talk by Tony Fadell, the originator of the iPod and founder of Nest, who shares his tips for noticing and making things better.

  • 1. BIZBOK® Guide Section 3.13, sourced from: Wikipedia definition of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_experience_design.
  • 2. BIZBOK® Guide Section 3.13, sourced from: This is Service Design Thinking by Marc Stickdorn and Jakob Schneider.