Five Resolutions for Digital Transformation Executives

by Vijayanta Gupta

Posted on 01-09-2018

Trans­form­ing your enter­prise into an expe­ri­ence business—where dig­i­tal and phys­i­cal inter­ac­tions with your brand merge into a sin­gu­lar, flu­id stream of engagements—requires adopt­ing a cus­tomer-cen­tric view.

Dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion is not sim­ply about invest­ing in new sys­tems or shift­ing process­es to dri­ve pro­duc­tiv­i­ty. Although achiev­ing high­er pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and bet­ter cost effi­cien­cy will always be hall­marks of great trans­for­ma­tions, today’s evo­lu­tion is about using data to pro­vide the expe­ri­ences con­sumers demand. It’s about con­nect­ing with them at a deep­er, more per­son­al level.

Here are five res­o­lu­tions suc­cess­ful dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion exec­u­tives are mak­ing in 2018:

Keep an eye on the details

Suc­cess­ful dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion requires engag­ing at mul­ti­ple lev­els, with data from all lev­els pro­vid­ing the cru­cial details for under­stand­ing your cus­tomers better.

Think of it this way: The best way to draw a horse is to begin with sim­ple shapes. You out­line the tor­so, legs, and head, then you fill in the details that refine and com­plete your vision—the ears, mane, tail, col­or­ing, and so on. These details will allow you to under­stand the com­plex­i­ty of your subject.

Over the last two decades, many new dig­i­tal solu­tions have emerged to help brands trans­form their busi­ness­es. Some enter­pris­es moved swift­ly to assem­ble inde­pen­dent tech­nol­o­gy solu­tions to fit their needs. How­ev­er, in their haste to adopt new tech­nolo­gies, brands often miss the val­ue that tech­nol­o­gy brings.

Tech­nol­o­gy can help you extract details about your cus­tomers quick­ly, then move with agili­ty to deliv­er the expe­ri­ences they want. But if you’re work­ing with mul­ti­ple, dis­parate dig­i­tal plat­forms and ser­vices, are you extract­ing the true val­ue of technology?

Your invest­ment in dig­i­tal solu­tions must fol­low a holis­tic approach and improve your abil­i­ty to under­stand and address your cus­tomers’ needs, pref­er­ences, inter­ests, and lifestyles.

Don’t be afraid to make hard decisions

When imple­ment­ing your brand’s dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion, think of the old Pol­ish proverb, “Not my cir­cus, not my mon­keys.” The def­i­n­i­tion and scope of trans­for­ma­tion can vary sig­nif­i­cant­ly for each brand. If you’re giv­en the man­tle to adopt new tech­nolo­gies to become a cus­tomer-focused expe­ri­ence busi­ness, you’ll have to decide—sometimes brutally—which lega­cy tech­nolo­gies to aban­don and which new options will help trans­form your enterprise.

The scope of your trans­for­ma­tion will like­ly be unique. And although there are best prac­tices for any endeav­or, the man­ner in which you take the brand for­ward will have a pro­found effect on your suc­cess. Where are changes nec­es­sary? How will new solu­tions be inte­grat­ed into exist­ing suc­cess­ful prac­tices? What works for oth­ers may not apply to your transformation.

The way for­ward will depend on your abil­i­ty to eval­u­ate your dis­tinct needs, resources, objec­tives, and goals as they per­tain to engag­ing your cus­tomers and enrich­ing their expe­ri­ences with your brand.

Recog­nise the dif­fer­ence between being smart and being lucky

Be care­ful not to con­fuse suc­cess­es that are a result of painstak­ing leg­work with those that hap­pen because of good for­tune. Iden­ti­fy­ing the caus­es of suc­cess (or fail­ures) is crit­i­cal to trans­form­ing your organisation.

Enter­pris­es that run on gut instinct or on the high­est paid person’s opin­ion (HIPPO) risk falling behind com­pe­ti­tion that has imple­ment­ed dig­i­tal solu­tions to accu­rate­ly define cus­tomer pro­files and con­fi­dent­ly adapt mar­ket­ing practices.

Of course, data under­pins any suc­cess­ful trans­for­ma­tion. So hav­ing a clear, com­plete, and accu­rate view of your data is crit­i­cal to matur­ing into an expe­ri­ence busi­ness. Data tells a sto­ry about your cus­tomers that is irrefutable, but analy­sis of the data must also be clear, com­plete, and accu­rate. How eas­i­ly can your teams draw insights from your data? Ana­lyt­ics’ func­tion­al­i­ty, such as anom­aly detec­tion and con­tri­bu­tion analy­sis, go a long way in help­ing to inform whether your approach is smart or just plain lucky.

Learn from failure

There’s a well-known expres­sion that’s applic­a­ble to dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion: “Some­times you are the pigeon and some­times you are the statue.”

Not every ini­tia­tive that one under­takes as a part of their brands dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion will be suc­cess­ful. There will be fail­ures. Learn­ing from them, is not only crit­i­cal, but also instru­men­tal in improv­ing the prob­a­bil­i­ty of future suc­cess. Dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion ini­tia­tives typ­i­cal­ly have board lev­el vis­i­bil­i­ty and cus­tomer lev­el impact. Fail­ure as well as suc­cess of these ini­tia­tives is very vis­i­ble exter­nal­ly as well as internally.

Suc­cess­ful trans­for­ma­tion lead­ers bal­ance their long-term goals and short-term suc­cess as their brand transforms.

Dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion usu­al­ly has the con­no­ta­tion of being cool and sexy, many times it is not; some­times it is just hard grunt work. But it’s impor­tant to con­tin­ue to learn from both suc­cess­es and failures.

Adapt to succeed

When a trans­for­ma­tion exec­u­tive with a rep­u­ta­tion for dri­ving change tack­les a busi­ness with a rep­u­ta­tion for resist­ing change, it is usu­al­ly the rep­u­ta­tion of the busi­ness that remains intact. Suc­cess­ful dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion lead­ers under­stand that they need to adapt their approach as they roll out cul­tur­al, orga­ni­za­tion­al, pro­ce­dur­al and tech­no­log­i­cal change as a part of their trans­for­ma­tion agenda.

When things change quick­ly, peo­ple with­in your organ­i­sa­tion can per­ceive these changes as dis­rup­tive. It is there­fore imper­a­tive to take every­one on the jour­ney. Use vocab­u­lary to inspire a pos­i­tive envi­ron­ment and vis­i­bly engage teams at every stage of your trans­for­ma­tion. Some­times, it can be a sim­ple change from say­ing, “we need to fail fast,” to “we need to learn fast.” Help­ing your team exe­cute your cus­tomer-cen­tric vision requires a com­bi­na­tion of great lead­er­ship and good lis­ten­ing. You must learn from oth­ers, while mak­ing sure you get your point of view across clearly.

Dig­i­tal transformation—like all transformations—will be chal­leng­ing. There is an abun­dance of tech­nol­o­gy solu­tions avail­able to make that trans­for­ma­tion pos­si­ble. But sim­ply stitch­ing togeth­er solu­tions and rolling them out enter­prise-wide won’t accom­plish your objec­tive. With a healthy per­spec­tive and a focus on incul­cat­ing these five habits, your brand can mature into the expe­ri­ence busi­ness you envision.

Topics: Digital Transformation, customer-centric focus, UK, UK Exclusive, Digital EMEA