Digital transformation has attained superhero status as a top priority for many organisations. While some view digital transformation more superficially as an exercise for resource/headcount control or cost saving, others are making more significant changes, using digital to streamline and improve customer and employee experiences. While these executions could not be more different, the commonly held view of digital transformation is that it’s a race, in which those organisations who lag behind will not be able to outlast the competition.
Yet digital transformation delivers effective change to those organisations that define it best: it is not solely about improving technology, but more crucially about improving experiences for people. That is the real transformation taking place.
Technology is not the silver bullet. Digital transformation requires a focused effort, juggling multiple changes all at once. These are the changes that people both implement and undergo themselves within the organisation. Technology is an enabling agent (and sometimes also the catalyst) of digital transformation, which is an iterative journey and not an end goal – there is no magic wand here, no instant results. The journey requires offering meaningful value to your customers and employees, which can only be done by learning more about them.
Consider customer and employee experiences
Businesses are tasked with adapting their thinking to understand customer behaviour, map customer journeys, and redefine them. The journeys result in experiences that not only delight customers, but are also seamless and natural to the context of human engagement. In order to connect the dots, the organisation and its culture must undergo change management to orient themselves primarily towards customer and employee experiences, as opposed to product sales and marketing or transactions.
Organisations ask about digital customers and how they differ from their current customers and how best to leverage them. But this question isn’t framed properly. The real concern is how to engage customers (and employees) appropriately across any channel, and how to enhance their experiences so that value is created for them.
Here are some other key questions to ask:
- What uniquely defines the profile of the target customer?
- What are their experiences with our brand?
- How can we differentiate their customer journey to add value for them?
- What are their brand touchpoints? How do they interact with these touchpoints? What benefits do they gain? What channels/devices/products/services do they use?
- What are their expectations? What do they value? How do they define a successful experience?
- How are they influenced, and by whom? How and whom do they, in turn, influence?
Customers are changing their behaviours faster than businesses can adapt
Technology is no longer the domain of the computer geek programming lines of code to service business needs. It has made human-machine interactions more intuitive, empowering people from all backgrounds to engage with all kinds of technologies directly. It rules the day-to-day lives of the vast majority of consumers, who are constantly changing their habits. Technology is now the medium through which businesses must adapt and operate.
But again, digital transformation is not actually about man and machines interfacing. That is now a base assumption. It’s about the information age where most people are technology literate. Digital transformation requires holistic alignment of all ongoing interactions related to services, people, processes, policies, and technologies in order to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Transformation comes from customers and employees embracing the journey and delivering positive commercial outcomes. Any transformation starts with one person at a time, using relevant insights to make decisions throughout that journey.
Moving from ‘why?’ to ‘how?’
Now that we understand the rationale behind the transformation journey, we can build the framework to deliver it. At a high level, these are the first steps to start planning:
- Build an ‘aspirational’ storyboard for the desired customer and/or employee experiences. Use data and user insights to set the agenda.
- Map out relevant ‘as is’ journeys for the current experience, highlighting relevant policy, process and technology considerations.
- Now design the ‘to be’ journeys. Focus on solving pain points by creating end user value. Investigate ways of improving the journey by experimenting with ‘what ifs’. Investigate how using or extrapolating existing information, or even the acquisition of data or information, can enhance the journeys.
- Build and deliver the transformation, using enabling technology assets.
- Automate all repeatable predictable activities.
- Repeat all steps. It’s an iterative, continuous journey after all!
Ultimately, digital transformation is a story of people inside and outside organisations. While technologies are changing customer behaviour and enabling businesses to respond differently to how they would in the past, the emphasis needs to be on humans and creating value that is fundamental to individuals. Digital transformation is a significant, and worthwhile, journey for organisations that seek to compete effectively by delivering real value to customers and employees.