MBA ENGLISH EDITION – an interview with Luca Gatti

1 September 2023

Luca Gatti, Customer Experience and Digital Transformation expert, is Lecturer in Digital Business (re)Design in Bologna Business School’s Executive MBA English Edition.

The Master’s program, part-time hybrid weekend, in English language and with an international outlook, is designed for professionals who want to lead companies on their business innovation path.


– What is customer centricity?

It is about putting the consumer, the customer, at the heart of the organizational and decision-making process.
Companies have traditionally optimized around the product, asking the final user to adapt to their model, through which he or she could benefit from quality and efficiency.
Why has it become so necessary to rethink the model? Three elements caused the “perfect storm” for companies: how easy it is for the user to get frustrated, the multiplication of alternatives, and the lowering of switching cost. For example, today we are used to the efficient operation of mobility apps for hailing a cab. This experience expands to all other areas, so the standard expected by the consumer is in general high: the risk of frustration, consequently, increases. Then, technological innovation has lowered the cost of bringing new things to market, and there is no longer the idea of starting to offer a service with maximum efficiency: you set the idea in motion and improve it on the way. Last, the collapse of the cost of moving toward an alternative: today except for a few entities, think of the onerousness of moving one’s checking account to another bank, flexibility is very high and cheap. Shifting from one service to another is simple and low-cost: the power is in the consumer’s hands, which brings him or her to the center of the business.
It is not easy to define what “putting the consumer at the center” means in practical terms. It is a paradigm shift that overwhelms everything. And even more difficult is to keep this goal as central, while also sacrificing some classic efficiency parameters to it.


– A quarter century after the theories of The innovator’s dilemma, in which terms can we still talk about innovation and digital transformation in business?

The innovator’s dilemma is not what to do, but how to act imitating the flexibility of a start-up, even though you are in large company. To give a very “visual” example: I can see the iceberg and choose to change direction, but if the ship is too big and does not have enough maneuvering space, I will still strike it. With a small, agile craft I will avoid it. Without setting a new course, through customer centricity, the risk is that the digitization of one’s model paradoxically makes the Titanic “speed up” while maintaining the collision course. Digital transformation is an enabler.
The underlying point of view needs to be changed quickly: if I start with “what creates value today for my target customers?”, then I look at digital transformation as a set of tools to streamline or remove activities with zero perceived added value for the end customer. It becomes an overall thought pattern.
To do corporate innovation is much more complex and slower than setting a new start-up; but it is a process that is offset by valuing all the sources of competitive advantage that can come from being hooked into a strong structure with an established consumer base.


– In a context oriented to the new digital transformation trends, what are, in this sense, the strengths of the Master Executive MBA English Edition?

This module is designed to make business managers understand how Design Thinking is a tool to have in their “toolbox.” The purity of the method, which is brought by designers, does not matter. My goal is not to turn business managers into designers, but to create enough awareness about the value that design can bring to business. The key concept is to help them to think. One should not start thinking about solutions until it is clear what the question is. Usually, problem solving goes in the direction of proposing solutions, when often the real problem is not in focus.
In this Master’s program we take the time to explore the customer or target user’s needs, and from this understanding determine what we want to solve, and only then do we put ideas into play to find solutions.


– Could you explain the value of the concepts and tools related to Design Thinking applied to business models?

It is about providing participants with that segment of knowledge that is called the horizontal, the upper part of the classic “T” formation: the vertical line, the specific technical and practical knowledge, is now necessary to work in companies and, therefore, our target audience has it, or otherwise are provided by other modules of the Executive Master.
This module is very useful for integrating the tools you already possess with the heterogeneous soft skills you need to have in order to reorganize the business around the customer.


– What profile represents the ideal candidate?

A profile that is intellectually curious and open to receiving input and stimulation from other worlds. Multidisciplinarity is needed, bringing to the table people who are very different from each other, competent in the field they have to lead (a necessary condition) but able to offer the plus of open-mindedness, of empathic listening.
Ego must be left at the door: the true leader is the one who pulls his or her team toward success, and the goal is to transfer these elements to the participants.


– What are the competitive advantages of doing an executive MBA in BBS?

Bologna Business School is a very innovative School, able to design Programs with a mix of academic and practical knowledge, coming directly from the business world. There is a lot of buzz, the new Campus under construction, events, a strong integration in the territory, with companies and local realities.
Bologna and BBS find the right balance between not small, but not stiff and bureaucratic, generating productive ground enhanced with innovative spirit.
BBS is continuously growing, but it is managing to preserve this delicate balance between consolidating itself as an educational institution and staying lean and agile to capture innovation wherever it is. I wish the School to continue to have this revolutionary spirit.


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