How to (not) become a Digital Enterprise

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This blog post is the first of a five-part series based on the keynote I presented at CamundaCon 2019 (You can find the recording on YouTube).

The Quest for the Digital Enterprise

A few weeks ago a Startup called Ethos raised $60M Venture Capital, bringing their external funding to more than $100M within 14 Months. Ethos want to make getting life insurance fast and easy by “turning a process that was once like going to the DMV to more like shopping online”.

In the US, you have to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to get your driver’s license, register your car, etc. And apparently, it’s not a very pleasant experience. So Ethos want to offer a much better experience for getting life insurance, defining “shopping online” as their benchmark. That actually reminded me of a newspaper article that I quoted at CamundaCon 2018, which stated that insurance company executives who focus on digital transformation define their objective as: “Getting an insurance needs to be as simple as buying a product on”

But it’s not just about buying it.

I recently had a very interesting interaction with one of those executives, the senior manager of a car insurance damage claim settlement department and that gentleman described a fascinating phenomenon:

For years now, they have been running customer satisfaction surveys on a regular basis. So from 2015 to 2018, their customers were generally ok with how that insurer settled damage claims, what the insurance paid for and what they refused to pay. One year that satisfaction went down, then it went up again, and so forth. In terms of being polite, their staff actually received better feedback over the years. Great. However, regarding speed, like how fast they settle the customer’s claims, the customer satisfaction dropped dramatically during these past four years. So what happened? How did that insurance company become so bad at processing claims in time? What did they change?

CamundaCon 2019 Jakob Freund Business vs IT 1970s and 1980s

The answer is: Nothing.

Their process cycle time KPI was constant. They were exactly as fast in 2018 as they were back in 2015, actually a little bit faster.

But further investigations uncovered that their customers had significantly higher expectations than four years before. And the data suggested that this was mainly because they had become used to instant experiences from so many other product categories (consuming music and videos, getting retail products delivered to their doorstep, almost always the next day if not the same day, getting nice restaurant food delivered within 15 minutes, whatever). A good part of that behavioral conditioning has happened indeed on

So it is obviously not just about “as simple as buying a product online”, but also about “as fast and convenient as consuming it online”. And I guess it’s pretty clear that this challenge does not only apply to insurance companies, but to almost any established organization in any industry.

They need to become Digital.

Well fine, but how? Let’s say you work at one of those companies, how can you turn your company that is sometimes more than a hundred years old, into a Digital Enterprise that is on par with Amazon, Google, all those tech startups, etc.?

This is the question I am going to investigate in this series of blog posts, and I am doing it predominantly based on the experiences we at Camunda have made when working with our customers.

CamundaCon 2019 Jakob Freund Business vs IT 1990s

At Camunda we have seen some exciting growth over the past few years and besides thousands of open source users, we’re now closing in on 300 enterprise customers. Because of our customer base and the nature of our product, we have a fairly unique set of insights: Established organizations, in financial services, telcos, media, energy companies etc. use Camunda as part of their digital transformation efforts. And because it’s a horizontal technology, we can look at this matter across industries. And because it’s about business process automation, we often have access to the senior leadership level, which leads to very enlightening discussions.

So the established organizations like Camunda because it’s flexible and they can integrate it with their existing, sometimes legacy tech stack. But in addition to that, the most innovative startups adopt Camunda to power their top-notch green field tech stacks. As a result, we get a pretty complete picture of both digital transformation and digital disruption.

Based on our insights, we have identified four key elements that an established organization needs to put in place in order to become a Digital Enterprise:

  • Prioritizing customer-focused innovation.
  • Bringing technology to the heart of your company.
  • Automating your business, one project at a time.
  • Putting executives in charge who care about long-term success, their people and the world.

What’s next?

Each week I’ll be diving into one of these elements, sharing my experience gained over the years working with our Camunda users and customers and, hopefully, giving you the best practices and tools to become a Digital Enterprise.

If you can’t wait until next week, check out our users’ CamundaCon 2019 presentations – like this great one from Dr. Eric Euerlings, Senior Integration Domain Architect and Project Architect at Helsana, explaining how he led a digital “grassroots revolution” using Camunda at this 100-year-old insurance firm, earning him the nickname ‘The Prince of Camunda’.

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