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  • Writer's picturewilliam wright

Unified commercial engines

Updated: Oct 10, 2022

Is it time to suspend belief in rigid functional silos that are destroying value in your business and focus on more innovative management of commercial and operational disciplines required to adapt and grow? Driving relentless, systematic growth and rigorous execution at scale doesn't happen by accident: it's diligently planned and managed. It's based on discipline, evidence, connected capability and unified operations.

Customers don't need to understand your organisation, what they do understand is the value you create and how you deliver it. But which disciplines create and deliver value in your organisation? How do you optimise these disciplines to support seamless customer experience? Can you systematically manage them to drive change, differentiation and build more adaptive and resilient businesses? Could management of these disciplines be the key to growth of your most valuable intangible assets and intellectual capital?

Most CEO's look to their 'front-end' commercial operations to drive growth, revenue and capital asset value. And, forward thinking organisations have made significant commercial gains by focusing on their customers, leveraging emerging technologies and exploiting new business models. Despite these advances orthodox functional siloes are limiting growth and commercial success. Consequently, business leaders are now re-shaping their organisations, uinifying commercial operations to provide streamlined customer experiences. There is now renewed focus on how to systematically drive cost efficiencies, revenue and cash flow throughout all customer and market facing operations. And, leaders are also placing particular emphasis on how to systematically manage capital assets and intellectual capital that drive differential advantage 'in market'.

New, unified commercial operations offer considerable benefits. Some estimates suggest between 5 and 15 percent growth and 10 to 30 percent reduction in marketing costs alone.

To realise these kinds of benefits there are two key questions to answer:

  1. In each of your target markets what are your sources of differential advantage?

  2. How do you systematically industrialise these sources of advantage to drive cost efficiency, revenue, cash flow and most importantly capital value?


5 simple rules to unify 'front-end' operations

1. Focus in future customers

Although this sounds obvious, all too often organisations are obsessed with current customers and although current customers are important there is a tendency to neglect what customers could be like in the future. Progressive leadership, vision and different strategies are required to build a more adaptive and sustainable business, aligned to current and future needs of customers. While there's a lot of talk about journeys as if they never change, there's not enough focus on how journey dynamics and customer strategies evolve over time.

Although customers can often say what they want, it's true to say customers don't always know what the future could be like or what they might need in that future. There's a responsibility on businesses to help their customers to realise a better future and to explain the 'art of the possible'. In doing this, leading organisations re-shape their strategies and operations to support that better future in advance of the competition, thereby creating differential advantage through operational innovation.

2. Move from 'functional friction' to 'disciplined flow'

Orthodox functions like sales and marketing are arguably redundant, and perhaps their existence is now a constraint on commercial success. Disconnects between these kinds of functional silo's disrupt customer experiences and divert attention and resource away from customers to unnecessary internal management. One solution lies in managing the specific disciplines, rather than functional silo's, needed to execute customer and commercial strategies. But first these disciplines must be clearly defined. For too long 'front-end operations' have lacked precise definition, that's no longer the case. These disciplines and processes are now clear enough to systematically engineer improvements, to design, execute and measure performance, improve operations and deliver differential value to customers through seamless experiences without the constraint of traditional organisation.

There are at least 38 discrete yet connected disciplines associated within 'front-end operations'. These can be grouped into 'engines' supporting discovery, leadership, activation in market, enablement and performance improvement. The engines are fuelled by new adaptive operating models that provide connectivity, cohesion and flow. These are all part of our modular methodology: adaptomy DNA


Learn more about redefining 'front-end' commercial operations in your business?


3. Embrace evidence-based change

Increasingly leading edge businesses are driven by evidence. Not just data, but qualified, quantified facts. Intuition, creativity and innovation are still vital, but the days of 'gut feel', hunch and untested assumption are long gone. Change requires creativity and imagination but is has to be backed by evidence, commercial and behavioural insight, data and science. To systematically improve strategy and operations there needs to be proof and to consistently engineer and deliver differential advantage to market there has to be evidence. To help people believe in change there must be measurable benefit. Evidence-based change, transformation and performance improvement in customer and market facing organisations is now a fact of life. Sharing the insight and analytics that drive customer behaviours and operations will inevitably help diverse teams understand the need for, and impact of change.

Any change carries an element of risk and the effort and commitment required to build new unified commercial operations should not be underestimated. It takes time, resilience and tenacity but the commercial and customer benefits far outweigh the pain.

4. Measure what matters

Maintaining focus on key metrics and measures is at the heart of any commercial operation but knowing which metrics and measures are strategically and tactically valuable has never been more important. To build credibility with the CFO commercial managers must learn to operate with a financial mindset. That means focusing on revenue, cost, margin, cash flow and knowing what key financial metrics really mean. It also means helping the CFO manage capital value, intangibles and off-balance sheet assets like brand and intellectual capital. It means understanding process performance measurement, resource effectiveness, utilisation and productivity to help improve operations. It means searching for lead indicators and proof to ensure that measures like NPS and customer satisfaction are actually meaningful and true. It means embracing advanced analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning to decipher complex behaviours and the trends that inform commercial decisions in ways that drive competitive advantage and customer value.

5. Build new behavioural models

Delivering systematic growth through more commercial and customer value depends on unified operations and the people involved in doing this need to be incentivised to behave as an integrated team. This means changing culture and how people are recognised and rewarded by shared goals and outcomes and team-wide KPI's aligned with individual compensation. It means creating a clear sense of shared purpose, transparency, accountability and acute focus on customers needs. Deeper understanding of team capabilities, individual behaviours, motivations and preferences is essential to make unified operations successful. This means psychometrics, emotional intelligence, effective management of mental health, development of new capabilities and new organisational models built around disciplines not functions.


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