“If We are Going to Open Our Kimono…

Written February 22nd, 2009 by
Categories: CEO's Blog
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…we had better look good!" proclaimed Tomo Razmilovic, the President of Symbol Technologies in late 1999, as he challenged his management team to expose their SAP system to their customers over the web.

To Mr. Razmilovic's credit, he understood the strategic importance, to the Symbol Corporation as a whole, of providing a real time SAP integrated eCommerce website to his customers.  Not only would it add immediate direct value to his customers, but it would set Symbol Technologies on an important journey to clean up their SAP implementation.  He understood that his Customer Service Representatives' "tribal knowledge" was covering up the "ills" in his SAP implementation and by removing them as the middlemen, things would have to get cleaned up! 

A few months later, Symbol Technologies became one of the early adopters of HAHT's eScenarios for SAP.  All of the founders of b2b2dot0 were involved in that implementation and helped make Symbol a premier reference for us. 

As a bizarre aside to this story, on the heels of making such an enlightened decision in 2000, Tomo made an equally idiotic decision a few years later, and now has his picture posted in all of the post offices of the United States of America.

In the last few months, we've continued to experience the "Kimono effect" many times over.  Here are a few examples:

  1. In the process of placing an order, a website customer uncovers that they are missing a new ShipTo that should be associated with their SoldTo.  A quick call to their CSR permanently fixes the problem. 
  2. A website customer orders a discontinued product that uncovers an oversight in maintaining the Material Master.  Rather than just substituting the right product in the warehouse, all affected records are updated to prevent this error from reoccurring.
  3. Every client always struggles with how to present product availability on the web.  Some don't want to because their SAP system isn't ready to, and some can, but simply don't want to for business reasons.
  4. A future client of ours delays going to the web because they still haven't solved their "product catalogue" challenges.
  5. Another future client of ours delays going to the web because their pricing procedures have "devolved" into a complicated set of manual processes.
  6. One client has known limitations in being able to calculate accurate freight charges in real time for some shipping conditions.  Most orders flow smoothly from the web through SAP.  However, those "exception orders" are put on delivery block so that CSR's can intervene manually while energy is expended to solve the problem once and for all.

Over ten years, and scores of implementations, we believe that there are a few very important lessons to be drawn from the Kimono Effect:

  • Embrace it – The Kimono Effect is the Holy Grail of becoming "customer driven".  Giving your customers 100% transparency to your SAP system will align all of your resources around the customer.  It will definitely be uncomfortable at times, but you'll be guaranteed that you're working on the right problems…the ones your customers care about most!
  • Segment your customers -  Not all of your customers need a
    catalog to order from and not all of your customers have complicated
    pricing rules and procedures.  Don't punish all of your customers (and lose out on the internal efficiencies to be gained) while you shore up your capabilities for some
    of your customers. Some of your customers, EDI orderers as an example,
    will never order from your website, but would love to track their
    orders and reprint documents from your website.
  • Set continuous improvement goals -You are not going to go
    from an SAP system that only supports EDI customers and your Customer
    Service Representatives today, to one that supports hundreds or
    thousands of customers in real time over the web over night!  Set
    yourself SAM (Specific, Attainable and Measurable) goals based on the
    number of customers and/or the number of orders that you want on the
    system at the end of each month or quarter, and work backwards from
    what it will take to get there.
  • React quickly – You'll never be able to clean up 100% of your data before you GoLive. Rather than striving for perfection before you GoLive, commit to be responsive when issues arise after you GoLive.  Control your GoLive and react quickly.

So that is the history of the Kimono Effect.  It's a ten year old story that is at the core of b2b2dot0's operating philosophy today.

In my next post I'll describe an important new capability of the b2b2dot0 service (which we still don't have a name for).  It was recently developed to support a more "modest" approach to revealing what's underneath your Kimono…for the more "out of shape" SAP organization.

Sam