Digital transformation: The steps for success

Is your organization embracing digital transformation? And if you are not embracing it, should you?

Enterprises need constant evolution to address their changing business landscapes. Their IT spending is governed by the changes to meet their business requirements. Leaders want IT to be focused on meeting these requirements apart from the business results, innovation, and continuous improvement. Today, the need for acceleration of business activities, processes, and models to fully embrace the changes and opportunities of digital technologies is important deliverable and impact in a strategic and prioritized way.

There are a number of significant changes one can make to signal a shift through the organization. It’s not just about a chief digital officer or a chief data officer or a chief analytics officer. Actually, this digital thing becomes everybody’s job, everyone’s responsibility.

Culture and Business Models
Any change process starts with an awareness that there’s an issue in the organization. The style of management needs changes to keep up with these disruptions. Leadership needs to be around the office and to be more open to more junior levels in the organization, than they may have been in the past.

The key performance indicators (KPIs) and the measures must be defined, for individuals and for teams and for the entire organization and drive this change. These new KPIs need to be on a dashboard published and seen, and constantly changing with the culture and model, rather than the traditional approach which may not have changed much for a decade.

Customer Experiences
Organizations need to define their customer experience journey. How will their customers benefit and drive sales and growth. The top-line growth can be enhanced with Digital process enhancements in Selling, and predictive marketing. Customer Understanding can be measured using Analytics and Social Media Sentimental Analytics, for segmenting and reaching customers better. Analytics and tools needs to be connected back to KPIs to measure success and adapt to the changing culture and business Models.

What are the customer demands and expectations on the business, and the demands on technology to meet business needs. Customers demand increased technological capabilities combined with the desire for ease of use. Business leaders must constantly challenge their organizations to ensure this change can unlock productivity gains and significant competitive advantage all while delivering exceptional customer experience.

Operational Process
The key drivers of digital transformation are profitability, customer satisfaction, and increased time-to-market. The New business, focused on Digital Journey, must have both product and service augmentations, and have a digital footprint in the physical world. New business process must become operational to reshape organizational boundaries, redistribute authority, and enabler nimbler decisions taking to achieve success of all the key drivers for the ultimate success towards transformation.

Best Practices Of Digitally Born Companies

Enterprises today are undergoing major technology transformations, in the way they do and conduct their businesses. The Digital shift is forcing non-technology companies, to adopt several best practices to catch on to this transformation, there by becoming more nimble, efficient and geared to operate in the dynamic future.

There are the original ‘Born Digital’ companies, which started out recently, never had to operate in the old era, and were immersed to adopt the newer styles of doing business from their very inception. As per Gartner, Born-digital enterprises are “a generation of organizations founded after 1995, whose operating models and capabilities are based on exploiting internet-era information and digital technologies as a core competency.” These companies have adopted several practices which can now be leverage by traditional enterprises to help them make their inevitable shift toward the digital transformation journey easier. Conventional companies can replicate certain aspects of born-digital companies, particularly in three key areas: Business, Risk mitigations and People.

Processes

Operating Model: Born Digital companies have flexibility in their operating models. Conventional companies must learn to change their older models to more nimble, flexible ones for faster access to markets serving their customers better. Some of them can try a few models and end up with a blended one.

Your users: It is imperative to always focus on the users (customers) and making their experience near perfect. Relentless focus on the end user seems to succeed in the winner-take-all digital world.

Operations: Businesses operations and IT systems must now reflect all phases and elements within the customer journey—not just the exact moment of purchase a customer did. And the experience must be continually updated as feedback to their platform, to make their experience and journey even better.

Risk Mitigations

Decision Making: Traditional businesses usually make or take decisions based on gut feelings, but born-digital businesses must use every tool and all data to guide the decisions. Collection of data at every single point is essential, and only with data and proper reporting, decisions should be taken to grow the business.

IT Platforms: Enterprises need to maintain core transactional processes and systems, whether they are accounts payable and receivable, order management, procurement, or something else. And they must also make sure those business processes and technologies remain efficient. But now, they must reflect all phases of and elements within the customer journey—not just the exact moment of purchase. And this experience must be continually updated.

Data First: Born Digital companies take business decisions based on ‘their data’. It is important to take risks, measure all key metrics, and plan carefully before building newer systems or planning for growth.

People

Hiring: Digital companies are comfortable hiring fewer people if those hires are of a higher caliber. Now, Smaller teams must deliver higher performances and diversity to increase creativity. One must be able to just invest a lot of money in a handful of people, versus an average amount in a larger number of people.

Lean: The number of employees no longer reflects the success of the company. When you scale up your businesses, adding people may add bureaucracy. Investing in newer software, machine learning techniques, to improve efficiency would be better than mapping requirements to actual headcount. It’s about maintaining speed and agility.

Dependencies: Teams would no longer have to wait for sign-offs, handoffs, and preparation of test environments. These tasks would be managed within the team, with immediate input from development and operations specialists. Such freedom could help development teams reduce their release times from months to hours.

Companies must now stay competitive in a world, where providing great customer experience has become most critical. In nearly every industry, they must continually innovate digital products and services, as well as the business processes that support those products and services. They can gain greater agility if they abandon rigid management practices of the past and adopt a new approach that enables evolution, adopting change quickly, and incorporating the latest and greatest functionality and best practices to stay relevant and move towards digital transformation.

How Companies Can Kickstart Digital Transformation Initiatives

Companies should drive digital practices in 2017, linking some of their performance objectives towards this cause, and enable more people to participate in this transformation.

So, what is Digital transformation? Digital transformation is the use of technology to radically change the way business is done to improve its performance and reach newer customers and bring about efficiencies. This is a much talked about topic for companies across the globe today. Executives in all industries are using digital technologies such as analytics, mobility, social media and smart embedded devices as well as improving their use of traditional technologies such as ERP to change customer relationships, internal processes and value propositions. The other impact is visualizing how fast the use of technology is disrupting industries in the past decade, and to know they need to pay attention now to changes in their industries now.

Digital Maturity is achieved when the best companies should combine digital activity with strong leadership to turn technology into transformation. Companies vary in their digital maturity, and those that are more mature outperform those that are not. Leading digital transformation projects would require managers to have a vision of how to transform their company for a digital world.

What is your 2017 digital transformation strategy and priority list? I am sure your organization is looking to improve customer experiences, develop new products for new segments, and deliver insights and conveniences that will drive growth. Or maybe not? Are you’re working for the one in three enterprises that is not ready for digital transformation, where your CXO team entrusted this important journey to the managers to drive the transformation and the planning is just getting started?

Enabling organizational capabilities that drive transformation
The three major building blocks with which companies are digitally transforming customer experience are customer understanding, top-line growth and customer touch points.
Should you wait for a completed digital strategy before setting priorities? Can your CIO plan for some basic rules and changes, that the organization will likely need to execute a digital transformation program? Regardless of where your organization is in planning or executing a digital strategy, there are several organizational priorities that should be considered.

The three major building blocks with which companies are digitally transforming customer experience are customer understanding, prioritizing processes, top-line growth and customer touch points.

1. Understand your Customer needs – Every organization should spend time in knowing their customers and prospects, on their needs, values, frustrations, and practices. Transformation often requires organizations to reimagine their business model, products, and services based on a new set of digital opportunities and threats. Enterprises need leaders with newer and different background and skills to discover digitally driven opportunities that play a greater role servicing customer.

Companies are now starting to take advantage of older investments in their campaigns to gain an in-depth understanding of specific geographies and market segments. Some are exploring social media to understand what makes customers happy or what leads to dissatisfaction.

In addition, companies are learning to promote their brands more effectively through digital media. Many organizations are building analytics capability to understand customers in more detail.

2.  Prioritize Your digital practices – Organizations need a top down strategy, but digital transformation is enabled by bottoms up practices. New concepts and technologies such as DevOps, agile process development is now in vogue so that teams can process customer feedback and update their priorities. It also needs teams to automate configurations so new development and testing environments can be turned on when needed. To succeed in transformation, many more employees will need to analyze data and share insights.

3.  Top Line Growth. Better understanding helps businesses to transform the sales experience. Companies are now integrating past customer trending data, which would have been purchased, to provide better personalization, understanding trends, propensity to buy and better customer service packages. Companies are also engaging in location-based marketing uses analytics to send personalized mobile coupons to customers as they near a facility; the company can then track them in real time. These require new systems to be built and connected in real time via the Internet.

Some companies are now trying to simplify their processes through a digital plug-in for their customers, offering insights in to the customers last online shopping list into its e-commerce site. This streamlines the shopping process, allowing customers extra time to look at other products. Customers can then decide whether to use home delivery or a drive-through service with a specific pick-up time.

4. Customer Touch Points. Customer service can be enhanced significantly by digital transformation. Social media like a Twitter handle account can be used to answer client complaints quickly, helping customers avoid going physically to a branch. The digital initiatives can also leverage crowdsourcing with several employees and other customers. Multichannel services require envisioning and implementing change across customer experience and internal operational processes. Many retailers now offer home shopping with the option to receive products by mail or in a store. Many companies are now offering customer apps to enhance customer touch points. New smartphone apps are linked to the customer’s profile, enabling integration across SMS, and social media efforts.

Digital transformation will affect many departments and people in your organization at different stages. The best way to have them ready to participate and be open to change is to engage them early on different activities that are likely to be foundational for their participation. The CXO should be able to anticipate some of these practices governance, set definitions, and technology adoption to transformation priorities more strategically.