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Our 2018 Annual Review

Centre on your customer

In 2018, we showed the power of ingenuity to build a positive human future in a technology-driven world. And we highlighted how organisational agility unlocks this power. Our research found a key aspect to agility is centring on customers, something that’s been at the fore of our business model for 75 years.
 

Centre on your customer

What’s the biggest threat facing organisations in the next few years? Is it the competition? Is it technological change? Is it uncertainty in politics or scarce resources? All good answers – organisations do worry about these things. But their biggest concern is their customers. Nearly three-quarters of the leaders we talked to for our 2018 research on organisational agility said changing customer needs and expectations would be the biggest challenge facing them by 2023.

Now more than ever, organisations can’t ignore their customers’ experience for a second. Why? As individuals, we’re increasingly subject to what has become known as expectation transfer. That means if we have an ingenious experience in one aspect of our lives, we rapidly expect that to be the new norm, regardless of product or sector.

The bar has been set high, both by big names and smaller, disruptive and innovative brands. With simple and slick customer interfaces, contextual data and insight, and personalised interactions, they’ve made themselves super-relevant in our lives. These brands raise customer expectations and provide a new lens for what constitutes a good customer experience for everyone else. In an increasingly subscription-based world, that could have a big impact fast.

As customers have an ingenious experience in one aspect of their lives, they rapidly expect that to be the new norm, regardless of product or sector

Most organisations we talk to know they need to become more agile. Specifically, 7 out of 10 said it would be about being faster – faster at finding out what customers want, faster at getting new products and services to market, and faster at getting a grip on new technologies. They must become part of their customers’ universe, understanding the individuals and organisations that inspire them. This is a new reality we call Customer 4.0.

7/10 organisations said agile is about being faster

Whether you’re an established heavyweight, or a disruptive digital native, the central challenge is the same. You need your own ingenious ways of creating value for customers and helping them achieve the outcomes they’re after – and all this while keeping the day-to-day plates spinning to stay on top of business as usual. For many, it will mean learning to reinvent and reorganise themselves.

Who is your customer? What do they want and how can you help them get it? Alongside these questions, there’s another one to answer: how do you find your way into their world, now that it’s no longer just a case of enticing them into yours?

Think why, not what

Plotting customers’ buying habits used to be a good way to find out what to sell them next. But now the magic piece of knowledge isn’t so much what they’re buying but why they’re buying it. We’ve worked with a major financial services company on how to stay relevant and hold on to market share. Among other things, it’s meant looking at why customers are in the market. They want savings accounts, but are they saving to send their children to university, buy a house or fund a comfortable retirement? The answers hold the key to insights about what goals are driving customers’ behaviour, and what the business can do to help.

Data analytics makes this increasingly possible. We’ve helped an airline integrate and analyse data from different sources to challenge assumptions about their customers. By scrutinising frequent flyer and booking data alongside complaints and satisfaction surveys, we built a clearer view of customer segments that highlighted a previously unknown £35 million revenue opportunity.

Explore the universe

The customer’s universe has three zones that can influence how they go about achieving their goals.

The authority zone is full of organisations that set the rules, like regulators.

The advisory zone is made up of organisations offering free or paid-for advice to fit customers’ specific circumstances, whether it’s independent financial advisors giving information on mortgages or Citizens Advice centres helping with debts.

The advocacy zone comprises formal or informal contacts who influence how customers feel about what’s in the market. Bloggers, celebrities or business associates all make up this space, along with friends, colleagues and the reviews of online strangers.

Mapping how you create value for your customer means exploring all these layers. Only then can you enter your customer’s universe. When we helped a public sector client redesign their business model, we mapped all these forces to show how customers came to use and recommend their service. The insights led us, among other things, to cut the time between signing up for the service and using it. This helped drive a threefold increase in users.

So, as well as segmenting customers by demographics and postcodes, you must probe what outcomes they’re looking for – and organise around them. Only then can you hope to centre on your customers in the way truly ingenious organisations do.

Our client work in action

Picture of Ecobooth

Ecobooth

Finding new uses for old plastic and creating a sustainable business

Ecobooth

Finding new uses for old plastic and creating a sustainable business

Plastic is increasingly hitting the headlines as a global waste headache, whether it’s clogging oceans or piling up in landfill. Ecobooth, a sustainable events company, wanted to reduce the huge amount of plastic waste produced by the events industry. We partnered with them to transform an innovative idea into a successful business.

Our technology experts researched, analysed and identified potential materials, manufacturing technologies and certification approaches. We then helped link choices on certification, materials and technologies back to a deeper understanding of the customer value proposition.

In less than a year, the business has transformed from an idea to a fully-operational organisation.

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Schroders

Transforming into an agile global organisation

Schroders

Transforming into an agile global organisation

We led an Agile transformation programme for Schroders’ global IT organisation. That included training more than 600 IT and business professionals in Agile techniques. We also developed a new operating model for the IT organisation to bring focus and structure to the way it serves the business. We helped bring people on board with the changes through a global network of change champions.

Now that they’re using Agile methods, the IT organisation is completing projects faster – over nine months the speed of release went up by 20 per cent. They’re creating more user-friendly systems and there’s a closer, more productive relationship between the IT organisation and the business. This will support Schroders’ ambitions for the future.

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United Nations

Driving sustainable development by helping business leaders understand new technologies

United Nations

Driving sustainable development by helping business leaders understand new technologies

The United Nations (UN) has 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): pledges to overcome some of biggest challenges the world faces by 2030. They want to end poverty, protect the planet and bring prosperity for all. Business has great potential to drive progress.

The UN asked us to identify the new technologies most likely to transform business. And to explore how they could help businesses do business in a better way – minimising waste to protect the environment or having a positive impact on society for example. We’ve developed briefings for 12 technologies including drones, robots and digital agriculture.

We’re now working with the UN to develop practical support to help business leaders take action.

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Virgin Hyperloop One

Developing the next evolution in transport

Virgin Hyperloop One

Developing the next evolution in transport

Virgin Hyperloop One is reinventing transport. The new transport system will levitate magnetically, running in a partial vacuum to reach speeds of up to 670 miles per hour – on land.

In India, Virgin Hyperloop One, with our support, is on track to connect Pune and Mumbai, two major economic centres, creating a competitive mega-region with a combined population of 26 million. A pre-feasibility study found the time, cost and accident benefits of the Pune-Mumbai route could be worth $55 billion over 30 years. That’s a seriously positive human future, built by a transport mode created for customers, rather than infrastructure.

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2018
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2018
PA's Annual Report

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2017
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2017
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PA Consulting Group Half Year Report - September 2019

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