Insights - Polymorphic Service Propositions.

Polymorphic Service Propositions.

by Dr. Thomas Papanikolaou on April 21, 2016

What if you could design a service proposition once and use it for multiple customer segments, meeting needs arising in different situations? Then you would have the initial ingredients of what we at Neos Chronos call a "polymorphic service proposition" (abbreviated as PSP). This article provides a quick introduction into the concept and highlights a number of reasons why a CEO, CMO, CTO of a company should care to learn more and act.

To clarify the notion of polymorphism in the context of service propositions we will use the following 3 examples. The title of each example reflects the mechanics / underlying implementation of the proposition, while the text describes the user experience.

POLYMORPHIC SERVICE PROPOSITIONS for
CONSUMER and
ENTERPRISE

1. REVERSE-CHARGED CALL HUNTING

Consumer: A mobile carrier offers a children safety service, as a "Call the Parent" phone number. Charges for this service are paid by the parents. A call to the number rings consecutively each parent, optionally assigned family relatives, and finally a dedicated 24/7 emergency number to ensure calls from children to their parents are always answered.

Enterprise: An company offers clients a no-charge "Contact Sales" number. When a client calls the number, it rings consecutively all members of the sales team. If no one is available to answer, the call is forwarded to a 24/7 line so that the client can always reach the company.

2. PERSISTENT COLLABORATION

Consumer: A Communications Application shows the thread of messages, files, voice calls and videos exchanged between users whenever a communication session is set up. This provides the communicating parties with a quick context of the previous interactions.

Enterprise: A Contact Center Operator Console brings up the history record for a calling client. This allows the operator to review previous interactions and handle client issues faster.

3. GUEST SERVICE LOGIN

Consumer: A WiFi Router with a "guest login" feature is used at home to offer an easy login for friends visiting the family without revealing the router's password.

Enterprise: A WiFi Router with a "guest login" feature is used at a small startup / company to provide WiFi access to visiting clients and partners.

There are many more such examples that can be "uncovered" or "invented". In fact, every well-designed software makes use of polymorphism techniques to add flexibility, and reduce duplication. The reason why such cases are becoming obvious at the service proposition level originates from a simple yet intriguing

KEY INSIGHT

The consumer and enterprise personas and their associated behaviours are converging. This is due to the exposure of Millennials from young age to technology, and the natural resulting convergence of usage patterns in every service being created to serve their needs. The "surfacing" of more and more polymorphic service propositions simply reflects our evolved ability to recognise these common and reusable service patterns (which always existed within well-designed software).

BENEFITS

The reason a CEO, CMO, CTO of a company should care about PSPs is that thinking and acting in terms of polymorphic service propositions has several benefits:

  1. The underlying mechanics of a polymorphic service proposition are designed and implemented once and can be used towards multiple customer segments. This provides a significant advantage in Time-To-Market and reuse of existing investments (lower CAPEX). Refer to all our examples.
  2. As the underlying mechanics remain the same, polymorphic service propositions require little to no additional learning for users when they switch context. This allows to create much more natural upgrade paths in terms of user experience, which creates a unique competitive advantage. An succinct example is Microsoft buying Skype (a consumer proposition) and leveraging Skype's user interface to revamp Microsoft's enterprise offering. The familiar underlying mechanics of Skype and Skype for Business enable consumers to become productive enterprise users much faster. A further, more recent example, is Facebook Workplace . Refer to our key insight!
  3. Polymorphic service propositions stand for user experience patterns that re-occur in daily life in multiple situations. They enable to offer packages of "user experiences" rather than packages of "features". For example a "WiFi guest login" experience, can be bundled with both a consumer home broadband package as well as Unified Communications enterprise proposition. At Neos Chronos we speak of service providers becoming "integrators of user experience".

COURSE OF ACTION

An organisation needs to take a number of transformational steps to take full advantage of polymorphic service propositions. Here are some indicative examples in the context of Communication Service Providers:

  1. In technology terms, the service architecture needs to be further consolidated and unified. For example, if you are launching Voice over LTE, make sure you purchase one (1) telephony application server that can serve both consumers and enterprise users. Make sure you have one (1) charging system, one (1) user profile, .... Refer to our first example.
  2. In marketing terms, the organisational division between consumer and enterprise marketing needs to be urgently reconsidered. Our experience shows that such a division often causes duplication. For example, having both Consumer Rich Communications clients and Enterprise Unified Communications Clients with the same functionality, implemented twice, offered to "different" customer segments, via different sales channels, ... is neither economical nor does it recognise the convergence of user behaviours. Adopting a unified, holistic view on the user experience can remove duplication, and release resources to be utilised to drive innovation.
  3. Finally in strategic terms, CSPs must review their existing service propositions portfolio with the purpose to identify polymorphic service propositions and opportunities to combine those into integrated user experiences.

IN SUMMARY

The consumer and enterprise personas and their associated behaviours are converging. This is due to the exposure of Millennials from young age to technology, and the natural resulting convergence of usage patterns in every service being created to serve their needs. The "surfacing" of more and more polymorphic service propositions simply reflects our evolved ability to recognise these common and reusable service patterns (which always existed within well-designed software). To fully benefit from polymorphic service propositions it is necessary to critically review the technology strategy and the organisational division between consumer and enterprise marketing and move from offering silo-service propositions towards offering integrated user experiences.

CREDITS & REFERENCES

For the avoidance of doubt, Neos Chronos are not affiliated with, and have no financial interest in any of the companies mentioned in this article. All names and trademarks mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners. Please observe the Neos Chronos Terms of Use.

  1. Wikipedia: Polymorphism
  2. Microsoft: Skype for Business
  3. Facebook: Facebook Workplace

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