Digital Transformation - you, your customers and your people
Digital Transformation is hot and trending. Like most technology trends, it often means very different things to different people.
To me it means transforming an organisation’s technology, culture and way of doing business to provide customers with a great experience. It also means moving towards a much faster way of evolving the business to respond to competitive change.
In this blog we will take a look at what I see behind this major trend, what transformation means if you are already offering a digital experience, and what kind of people are needed to drive this transformation.
One thing is for sure, there is a lot of investment going into this space. Recent announcements by our two banks are an example of this. Bank of Ireland is currently transforming their core banking platform with an estimated budget of half a billion euro. AIB is aiming to become the best digital bank in Europe by 2018. Both are focusing on creating the ultimate digital customer experience.
This idea of a digital customer experience has been around a long time.
CRM systems were the first wave to help internal staff provide customer care. As consumers embraced the web, the B2C companies clamoured to go online. Most companies now have some sort of "MyServiceportal" where the consumer can log in to view and update their subscriptions and services.
With the explosion of the smartphone in the last 6 years, consumers expect to have access anytime, anywhere, and on any device. This has driven demand for mobile apps and mobile responsive sites that allow consumers to get this "MyServicePortal" view enabled on their smartphone.
There is a tangible business benefit to giving a great customer experience. Forrester, the thought leaders in this space, run comprehensive annual customer experience surveys and have consistently found empirical evidence that,
“Customer experience leaders grow revenue faster, drive higher brand preference, and can charge more for their products.” [source]
So there are very good reasons to think hard about this.
What does a good digital customer experience look like?
We hear this question a lot when talking to clients, vendors, and our own people.
To me, a good customer experience is a seamless, joined up experience of buying or using a product or service. It should be consistently good no matter how you engage, whether it’s face-to-face, on a mobile app, using the web or on a telephone call.
The digital element is where the interactions should be powered by timely, relevant information about you as a customer, your preferences, your history, and your subscriptions.
Many companies are already serving their customers with a digital experience so why do we need to call it transformation?
I believe the transformation piece is being driven by the need for:
- releasing continuous small improvements for the customer
- having a faster time to market for new and improved services
- being able to respond quickly to competitive events
I also think the reason that CIOS, CMOs and business leaders are talking so much about Digital Transformation is the sheer size of the changes required.
If it truly means “transforming an organisations technology, culture and way of doing business to provide customers with a great experience” this then means it requires a pretty fundamental overhaul in how the business works and how it serves its customers.
That’s a lot of change at once… the technology, the culture, and the way of doing business.
How are organisations tackling this and what does this mean for your resource requirements?
Transformation needs people who are change agents. It needs people with the skills and experience of taking an organisation through a difficult time as people adopt new ways of working, with new personal responsibilities and new colleagues. It can be a threatening time for those used to doing things a certain way and who may be comfortable with their existing role.
When we look to resource a team for a transformation program we are looking for leaders, skilled facilitators who are experienced with both business and technical requirements. This is not a role for the faint hearted, nor is it suited for people who want a business as usual role. It will take tremendous personal willpower, stamina, patience, and a good sense of humour along the way to make this successful.
Finally, consider the following four elements
From what we see in the market and from talking to our clients, vendors, and internal staff, I see four main elements to consider.
- Map out a new end-to-end cross channel customer experience.
- Create a new way of working in the organisation to put the customer at the heart of everything you do.
- Implement customer facing channels that will support agility in an ‘always on’ world.
- In-source the people and teams to make rapid, small and continuous improvements.
In my opinion the last point will have the most significant impact to Irish businesses over the long term. According to a survey carried out by Forrester around customer facing web and mobile experiences in 2016, 76% of companies’ surveyed reported people and resources is the key barrier and challenge to their success with only 9% of companies saying they have no difficulty in finding people for their roles. For this reason it is important to hire the right people and partner with a company you trust that understands IT and what digital transformation can mean for your company.
An organisation can outsource and buy in expertise to help drive the first 3 elements above, but if the business at its core does not have a beating heart then it will not be able to compete with those that do. Having great people with the right skills who understand the customer, who understands the business and the technology landscape means that you have a core capability that can drive the organisation forward.