Your Digital Doppelgänger

You may not be aware of this but both you and your organization have a dual citizenship, with one foot in cyberspace and the other on Terra Firma.

This is because you have a ghostly twin, a digital doppelgänger, that is your personalized electronic image composed of all your digital activities stored in browser cookies and in the Internet cloud, automatically captured and synthesized by innumerable vendors and data merchants. Your digital crumbs can make your interactions easier and more individually relevant. Service providers and sellers use this digital dossier to interact with you.

Organizations also have digital doppelgängers, only theirs' are bigger and more fragmented. You can think of these “digital twins” as digital operating systems (dOS) that coordinate information and processes across departments and with other organizations.

The power of this metaphor comes from envisioning your organization’s digital twin as your customer sees it. How does your electronic ghost look to your key stakeholders?

The March 2017 McKinsey & Company report titled “How to start building your next-generation operating model,” stated,

“The operating model of the future combines digital technologies and process-improvement capabilities in an integrated sequenced way to drastically improve customer journeys and internal processes.”

This means that smart organizations, large and small, must take a more deliberate approach to digitizing their businesses, by creating integrated digital operating systems (dOS) to improve financial and operational performance. The performance implications are enormous as these cases illustrate:

  • A regional healthcare provider reduced 30-day readmissions from 25% to zero, reduced costs 10%, and increased profits by digitizing their new patient intake process, then linking it to clinical, non-clinical and administrative processes involving networks of doctors, clinicians, volunteers, payers, vendors and other providers.

  • A consortium of five towns reduced procurement costs by 8.5%, guaranteed regulatory compliance with state laws, and saved tens of millions of dollars, by digitizing each town's procurement processes, sharing purchase activities on one portal that also guaranteed regulatory compliance.

  • A global technology company reduced development cycle-time and introduced a new product 6 months before their competition, generating millions of dollars in new revenue, by digitizing development processes, people and integrating databases, across globally distributed teams and software development partners.

  • An e-commerce firm synchronized 3 tiers of its supply-chain that eliminated fulfillment errors, reduced cycle-times, reduced risks, and increased revenue per customer by 10%. They digitized processes, people and systems so they had visibility and control throughout multiple tiers of their supplier networks (networks-of networks.)

Each of these organizations used the same strategy to achieve quantum leaps in productivity. They explicitly optimized their digital doppelgänger to better serve their stakeholders and trading partners.

What Does An Digital Doppelgänger Look Like?

Well-designed digital doppelgängers for organizations coordinate people, information, software apps, and processes. Every digital Operating System (dOS) includes:

  • PROCESSES: Structured, flexible and ad-hoc workflows executed by both people and systems

  • INFORMATION: Structured & unstructured information like databases, apps, documents, notes, messages, lists, etc.

  • SERVICES: Types of services requested or delivered to internal or external customers

  • NETWORKS: Networks include employees, partners, customers, & suppliers participating across supply-, value- or project-chains

Why Now?

The organization’s digital operating system (dOS) can be a powerful “secret sauce” to improve performance in our rapidly emerging “post-ERP” digitizing era.

Let’s look at service delivery, since it’s 78% of the US economy.

The delivery of a service requires coordination of worker tasks and shared information that facilitates interactions (commerce) between “service requester” and “service provider”. For example:

  • An internal “IT service request” process must coordinate worker activities and data with project management, costing, equipment suppliers, software vendors, and Value Added Resellers (VARs).

  • An Engineering Change Order (ECO) process affects processes, data, and people in manufacturing, incoming inspection, inventory, sales, resellers, accounting, suppliers, and each supplier’s supply-chain.

  • A patient referral processes involves the referring organization, other clinical and non-clinical service providers, the patient/family, other systems (EMRs), vendors/suppliers, payers, and regulators.

At a personal level, every time you use Uber or Lyft, your electronic twin broadcasts a “service request” to a network of “service providers” (drivers) so you get transportation services to your destination. Your digital twin involves data stored on your phone, and in the Internet cloud flowing through a hard-coded process. You take the ride while your twin coordinates and tracks the service delivery process, and pays the fare.

Optimizing and integrating your organization’s digital OS has huge benefits:

  • Makes it easier and faster for workers & partners to perform flawlessly

  • Achieves new levels of productivity, efficiency, & value

  • Creates new revenue streams and new services

  • Reduces cost beyond the limits of just “leaning”

  • Guarantees compliance and eliminates errors

What Does Your dOS Look Like Currently?

For nearly all organizations, their dOS is currently manual and fragmented.

Legacy systems, apps, and shared folders hold multitudes of data silos. Unmanaged manual activities like e-mailing, instant messaging, and spreadsheet reporting also prevent coordination of work activities and private data sharing. These conditions cause errors, delays, and inconsistencies.

The key to achieving new levels of performance is to dramatically transform your perspective from visible objects and activities, to your digital image.

Think about what your digital doppelgänger looks like to your customers (internal & external ones). Is your digital OS tightly coordinated or digitally schizophrenic, displaying multiple personalities?

Success requires re-conceiving your organization as a tightly integrated, extremely detailed “twin”. Creating a high performance “digital OS” involves:

  • Integrating silos of knowledge currently scattered across apps, legacy systems and shared folder

  • Automating work processes currently performed manually via e-mail and instant messaging

  • Automating real-time reports & analytics that are currently tracked manually via spreadsheets and project management charts

  • Sharing proprietary data and processes via secure and private communications with your networks of partners, suppliers, and customers.

Starting Simple: One Step At A Time

This digital OS stuff sounds complicated but it’s actually quite simple to start. Just focus on digitizing one process at a time.

  • Step 1: Identify one or two processes to digitize

  • Step 2: Create process map illustrating the steps involved. Include the task list (checklist) for each step. On average this takes 1-2 days to map one process, depending on number of process steps involved and people involved. Most processes have 8-10 steps.

  • Step 3: List the information types involved. These include documents, templates, forms, notes, databases, data sources, etc.

  • Step 4: List the apps or legacy systems used during the process

  • Step 5: List the internal & external organizations involved.

  • Step 6: Finally, rapidly prototype / configure the process on a next-generation work management platform, built to digitize your business processes exactly. This should take no more than a couple weeks and require no software programming.

“An organization’s digital OS provides a unified point of control and reporting for coordination of people, information, and systems that optimizes operational and financial performance.”

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