While organizations have done a great job of digitizing individual functions, challenges persist when unified response is frequently called for requiring cross-functional cohesion and cooperation. With lack of a common platform connecting the various functions, inefficiencies creep in and the cost of service delivery increases significantly, customer dissatisfaction being the heaviest overhead.
In a rapidly changing market place, adaptability is seriously impaired with conventional systems. While these systems are stable and perform several critical functions, they are not geared to meet the demands of a new, highly fluid market place. As with nature, adaptability determines survival rather than size.
Is your organization providing the same quality on products and services across various touch points? Are your add-on services as good as your products? Are your software systems as good as your people assets? Is there a way to capture customer response across each touch point and react promptly for optimal customer satisfaction? Do you have the processes and technology in place to quickly interpret data and make swift decisions?
In the age of tech savvy customers and breakthrough innovations due to which years of customer loyalty can be lost overnight, effective digital transformation can help you stay aligned to changing customer behaviour leading to necessary innovation and redesign of products and services. The right blend of innovation, quality and efficiency can only be achieved through successful digital transformation.
From marketing to operational readiness, best practices implementation to a self-driven workforce, successful digital transformation can help organizations respond on the fly to internal and marketplace demands while lowering operating costs and innovation expenditure.
The Digital Dilemma
While most leaders and managers agree that digital transformation is the way forward, their experience with new technology is not encouraging. Capital investments in technology for many organizations do not pay back linearly. Quick results sought from such investments remain elusive.
Though cloud computing, mobile devices and analytics are helping few organizations minutely capture and respond to even the smallest shifts in customer behaviour, internal factors, everyday business pressures and organizational inertia delay digital transformation in many.
Pressure of Digital Transformation
Where the need for digital transformation is clear, the path to a digitally transformed state that is productive is full of challenges and risks. As many companies recognize the challenge and are making attempts to implement digital transformation, almost an equal number want to change but feel overwhelmed. Only an insignificantly small number say that digital transformation is irrelevant.
The following are a few factors that can reduce the chances of achieving successful digital transformation in your organization:
- Acclimatizing your workforce to the new advanced digital paradigm
- Threat to the existing organizational structure and power base
- Aversion to risk taking
- Lack of Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) to measure the outcomes of initial investments
- Sacrificing the important for the urgent
- Anxieties around Returns on Investments
Building a Digital DNA
Digital transformation has to be holistic in nature. Certain functions within your organizations may be in urgent need of digital transformation compared to other business areas. However, digital transformation should eventually encompass the whole organization for agile service deliveries and leading innovations.
Successful digital transformation involves the following activities and outcomes:
- Information collected from touch points drives your organization’s strategy
- Investments in digital technology are linked to larger financial objectives and profits
- Each investment in a digital asset is made in order to create measurable outcomes which are defined in advance
- Operationally, quantified reductions in the costs to provide service justify investments
- Customers feeling engaged and an improved responsiveness results from your digital transformation investments and changed processes
- Your most precious assets, your employees feel empowered with a change in organizational culture
Unified Customer-Brand Experience
Services are delivered across several channels viz. online, brick and mortar store or a retail call-center. Any flaw in services provided from one channel can have an impact across several touch points. Digital transformation helps maintain a unified Omni-channel experience and service quality.
Chief Marketing Officers-CMOs’ are realizing that customer confidence in the brand starts with focussed marketing. CMOs’ are spending a large chunk of their budgets on analytics. Using analytics reports on available customer and market data, CMOs’ are able to target individual buyers and meet their specific needs including customized configurations, packaging and delivery along with multi-channel ordering options and support. The customer begins to see highly relevant and usable options from the suppliers with a freedom to choose a suitable interaction channel.
Technologies are available today to instantly flag the few transactions that need urgent attention among thousands transacted across multiple channels. Such tools work in real time to notify all stakeholders including brand evangelists who can then respond proactively and effect corrective action. Stakeholders usually ‘far away’ from customer contact are also included.
Enhanced operational efficiencies are achieved through instant access to vital information, collaborative tools and cross functional reporting. Collective accountability through digital transformation results in benchmark efficiencies in services across all channels.
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One of the major challenges of digital transformation is figuring out where to start. Is it innovation, operations or employee engagement? Initial investments must provide quick wins – with tangible improvement in customer satisfaction levels and clear financial returns. Employee engagement is vital, from day one. A digital asset that works for your competitor might not be the right fit given your organization’s operating culture and current digital baseline.
Tying your Digital and Physical Elements together
Digitally controlled and monitored physical facilities have become the norm to ensure data and information security from every angle. Physical infrastructure should meet Business Continuity Planning (BCP) requirements and physical structures should be resilient to geographical, political and environmental risks in a given location. Back up infrastructure ensures unimpeded deliveries of your carefully designed products and services to valuable customers.
Today’s enterprise is borderless and works 24x7 to render services when and where needed. Without the IT infrastructure and hardware to match, a strong digital asset base is like an office building without electricity.
General Hardware, Specialized Devices, Connectivity, speed and scalability are critical to the success of digital transformation. Cutting edge technologies like “Beacons” which are Bluetooth based reach tailored services, products and pricing to the indoor customer where lack of signal penetration has at times impeded access. Macy’s uses this technology to alert shoppers about deals and offers. Virtual mannequins help consumers select co-ordinated apparel and check suitability. NFC-Near Field Communication technology is being used by Casino supermarket in France. Using this technology and an app on their mobiles, customers scan purchased items. At the checkout counter they quickly generate a bill through a NFC compatible reader attached to the cash counter.
Digital transformation enhances customer experience.
Organizational Restructuring to Support Digital Transformation
Businesses and enterprises employee people with varying skill sets. Some are tech savvy while others are not. Technology used in digital transformation should match employee skills so they focus on the customer or their specialization instead of grappling with systems and software. When productivity and efficiency levels jump as a result of digital transformation, employees buy into the new technology with its associated processes.
In a digitally transformed environment, information available to managers points to team members’ strengths and weaknesses paving the way for clear definition of roles and responsibilities, training opportunities, and mentoring. Employees feel a sense of belonging as they operate within their skill sets while at the same time, training for more complicated work types. With technology, employees do more with less and respond effortlessly to fluctuating volumes.
Digital champions within your organization and dissemination of genuine success stories from digital transformation in various business areas can energise employees into participating in the new digital transformation program.
Digital transformation creates sharp alignment to dynamic customer needs, drives product and service redesign and supports proactive employee training improving efficiencies significantly, thereby reducing operating costs. Financial resources are available for performance incentives to improve team morale and further cement employee involvement in digital transformation.
In the age of the internet with information at your customer’s finger tips, innovative technology can prove disruptive to established ways of conducting business. Digital transformation does not merely guard you against obsolescence but also aids understanding of customer behaviour, quick response times and highly relevant inputs against specific customer needs.
1Google in its “Think with Google” website has published the following information:
New research from CEB's Marketing Leadership Council shows that potential business customers are increasingly using digital channels to form opinions about major purchases. Today's business buyers do not contact suppliers directly until 57 percent of the purchase process is complete. The challenge for marketers is to be present in these channels at all times with content that educates buyers and helps guide commercial decisions.
Digital transformation is a present reality. Adapting a flavour suiting your business needs will drive success in the marketplace.
1Survey done by Google and CEB’s Marketing Leadership Council. (Feb 2013). The Digital Evolution in B2B Marketing. Retrieved from https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/articles/b2b-digital-evolution.html
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