Monthly Archives: April 2013

Prepaid services in the Enterprise Canvas

Tom Graves answered a set of questions I asked on Twitter in a blog post in great depth. Thank you for that.

I’m afraid my focus is still in the commercial area and I argue from an organisational point of view in this post. Bear with me, please.

I’m still chewing on how to model a prepaid service (say a prepaid mobile phone service) adequately in the Enterprise Canvas.

Well, my first attempt failed spectacularly–see Tom’s post for that. In his response, Tom suggested a fractal model of the overall service, but I’m afraid I’m missing a few hints before I can see how this works on a very concrete level. While I was content with the notion of fractal services, I turned to Mapping the Enterprise (Graves, 2010, p. 55) for further insight:

Customer-Relations (customer-side/future): build and maintain relationships with potential and/or actual ‘customer’ service-consumer entities, mainly about what may or should happen in the future, and to communicate the Value-Proposition in relation to the enterprise vision.

Value-Return (customer-side/past): receive balance or compensation from ‘customer’ entities (e.g. payment for goods)

In the context of a prepaid service, “what may or should happen in the future” might just be the operative phrase here. A customer’s prepayment of a service (i.e. the creation of a balance/credit on the customer account) can, I think, be understood as a statement as to what should happen in the future (“I am entitled to 100 mins of national phone calls from your mobile network by this prepayment.”). In fact, that’s the way financial accounting looks at this scenario and forces the service provider to create financial provisions for the service obligation. Thus I think it might be possible to look at the prepayment-transaction as part of the Customer-Relations cell.

Value-Creation is then all about fulfilling the service obligation (the service promise) and enabling the customer to make those 100 mins of phone calls.

As a consequence, Value-Return (from a financial perspective) occurs when the service provider dissolves these provisions (and recognises revenue) after the customer made her calls–minute by minute if the customer so chooses. Of course, there’s much more to value creation and value returns than the monetary/financial perspective.

Interestingly, the monetary & financial aspects of value return are now aligned with these important relationship-oriented aspects of value return. And value return does indeed happen after the value creation activity of enabling the customer’s phone calls.

Tom, what do you think?


Graves, T. (2010) Mapping the enterprise: modelling the enterprise as services with the enterprise canvas. Tetradian Books.


Not all services are equal

Tom Graves has published an excellent blog post on migrating from edge to backbone today. Tom argues that it may well be appropriate to change and evolve services on the edge of the (service) network in an agile or even fairly casual manner. On the other hand, services at the other end of the spectrum, i.e. services in the backbone, may well have to be developed in a much more controlled manner. To me, these edge services and the backbone seem to (loosely) map to pods and the platform in Dave Gray’s vocabulary. Continue reading

The service economy is dead

The old economy has been dead for a while. The service economy has followed suit and has been replaced by the experience economy. Although that is looking a little frail, too, but the relationship economy is just around the corner. Or so we hear.

Actually, successfully delivering services to customers has always involved delivering satisfying experiences in addition to satisfying outcomes — whether we knew it or not. And yes, these days customers may have much higher expectations of experiences than in the past, and experiences may well be a much greater differentiator than outcomes.

Similarly, the rise of the connection or relationship economy is being widely discussed. Again, this doesn’t seem to be entirely new: establishing & maintaining good connections or relationships in one’s market has always been essential to successfully delivering services (at least when customers had a choice). However, a service provider’s failure to adequately connect/relate to its customers and other stakeholders may have much graver and far-reaching consequences today than in the past.

So, by all means, let’s co-create excellent experiences with our customers (and employees, partners, suppliers, etc.), let’s connect to others on a human level, and let’s invest in our professional & personal relationships, but let’s call a spade a spade, and a service a service.

Update 2017–03–24: Changed last section to “co-create…with” instead of “deliver…to”. Thanks, Jeff Sussna.

Services from an operations perspective

Service Operations Management: Improving Service Delivery” by Robert Johnston & Graham Clark was and continues to be one of the major influences on my thinking on planning, designing, building and delivering services to customers. While this textbook is written from an operations perspective, it takes a holistic and customer-centric view on delivering services. Continue reading