About the awards
In 2020 the Business Ecosystem Alliance (BEA) launched the Zero Distance Awards. The awards identify and celebrate the work of organizations throughout the world in eliminating the distance between their employees, their operations and their customers. The BEA believes that ecosystems are a dynamic means of bridging the gap between organizations and their customers. Each year, BEA acknowledges the groundbreaking work of ten organizations in seeking to achieve Zero Distance.
About Zero Distance
The concept of Zero Distance was introduced by the Haier Group. It emphasises the connection between the business and the end-user or customer. This has become central to the management model of the Internet of Things era.
In 2015, Professor Dennis Campbell published “Zero Distance to Users” as a Harvard Business School case. He taught the case in the “High Performance Organization and Cultural Design” class. From the case, the principles of Zero Distance are clear:
Having a management philosophy that allows the organization to proactively react to newly identified user needs
An organizational design and processes that eliminate organizational barriers that separate employees from end users
The use of user-focused and independent teams that can move fast and smoothly within the organization
End-to-end accountability for the experience of end users is taken by the company and/or independent teams
The systematic collection, storage and use of end user data in order to increase value for end users
Commitment to the ecosystem principles of openness, equality, co-creation and co-sharing.
With 3,800 employees the healthcare and health insurance company has created its Well-B Innovation Center, an ecosystem to proactively identify health care problems and opportunities. This is supported via a human-centered design approach which includes direct and frequent consumer engagement when understanding problems, coming up with ideas, prototyping concepts, and testing solutions.
Committed to empowering its users to build better lives, it started the biggest transformation in the company’s history in 2016 with the goal of transforming the Robert Bosch Power Tools division into a user-centric organization based on agile principles. It follows a holistic definition of agility embracing leadership, a collaboration culture, organisation, processes and methods as well as strategy. All underlined by a strong focus on communication internally as well as to and from customers.
What does it mean to win a Zero Distance Award?
“For us, Zero Distance means having no barriers for front-line staff to interact directly with our clients and being able to respond as they wish without needing any approval. We certainly plan to continue to ensure there are no organisational barriers that separate our people from our clients.”
“It’s a great moment for Jaipur Rugs to win the Zero Distance Award and a testimony to our philosophy of connecting the weavers directly with the end consumers. I feel more confident than ever that our vision of democratizing the carpet value chain, by eliminating the middlemen to empower both the weavers and the end consumers, has been recognized by the Business Ecosystem Alliance.”
“Winning the Zero Distance Award means that our transformation is working. It was only four years ago when we read for the first time about RDHY and its Zero Distance principle. In 2020, we confirmed the power of Zero Distance as a business driver that’s enabling our very successful performance. We have taken the Zero Distance concept to a totally new level, applying it to every single angle of our work.”
“Winning the Zero Distance Award is a source of great pride. External recognition is always a boost for confidence and a sign that our organization is moving in the right direction. We have been pushing for a customer-obsessed mindset in our organization. Zero Distance means that we are putting the customer at the heart of our organization and that we are more agile and more responsive to the customer’s requests and needs.”
“Government needs to improve the way it engages with citizens, taking the lead from business best practice. Ideas such as Zero Distance from customers, organizational agility and the lean start-up movement all have lessons for government. Taken to its logical conclusion this might even mean that every citizen has their own account manager – even if that account manager is an algorithm or AI-inspired bot or avatar.”