Looking at the Forward Edge

The forward-edge-of-the-customer-area, or Forward Edge, is the foremost limit in the network of capabilities where business capabilities are deployed in direct contact with the customer. These capabilities probably make up 15-25% of the capabilities in your business.

Extra attention should be paid to Forward Edge capabilities. The Forward Edge is a two way street. This is where you create the relationship with your customer. It is also where you can be learning from your customer how to improve your ability to meet the customer’s needs and expectations.

There are a number of areas where you directly interface with your customer. These include product development, sales, product and service delivery, when the customer uses your product or service, customer care, and invoicing and payment. These capabilities should be focused on meeting the customer’s needs and learning what opportunities exist in the market.

Many businesses make the mistake of using technology or outsourcing to cut costs in these areas without considering the customer impact. When technology and outsourcing is used to improve the companies capabilities at the Forward Edge, its great. But when the customer experience or the ability of the business to learn what the customer’s emerging needs are is compromised, these are not good ways to implement the Forward Edge capabilities.

How clearly do you understand the customer’s expectations at the customer edge? How well aligned are the other capabilities in your organization to meet these expectations? What do you have in place to understand your performance here and to learn about emerging customer needs?

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