Digital transformation (DT) is all the rage. Ovum‘s annual ICT Enterprise study into the business challenges and IT investment intentions 2017/18, found that over 90% of enterprises have it as a top item on board agendas. The same research also shows that the clear majority of organizations are struggling badly with it for a whole host of reasons, such as digital skills shortages, misunderstandings around purpose, and how to progress from a bird’s nest of tired old legacy systems to the brave new digitized world. What should be more worrying to key stakeholders, particularly employees and shareholders, is that only a meager 8.5% have a clearly articulated vision of what DT means for their businesses and another 16% have nearly figured it out but are not quite there yet. What are they all waiting for?
The focal point for digital transformation must be the customer
Every business faces a common challenge – growth, and that depends on continued customer relevance. In a world of accelerating shifts in customer expectations, influenced by enterprises that have got their digital acts together, persistent customer relevance is becoming more elusive, by the minute.
The ghosts of Darwin and Copernicus are hovering over the challenge. Enterprises must learn to adapt at the right speed or risk losing customers and going out of business. It’s a classic Darwinian challenge. Customers no longer march to the beat of the enterprise, and won’t suffer the indignity of being an afterthought, as the last stop on the end of a product-centric process. Just as Copernicus realized the Earth revolves around the Sun and not the other way around, so too must CEOs of any business recognize the central importance of the customer, and seek to orbit the customer to meet their desired outcomes.
Six recommendations for getting digital transformation on track
- It must start with an enterprise-wide commitment to the customer – you can’t fake trust. If you are not thinking about the customer at the center for your digital transformation, don’t be surprised if your organization simply becomes more efficient at alienating them. A sign of progress will be the dismantling of departmental and channel silos.
- Establish a cross-functional customer experience team to develop a customer perspective and coordinate activities and offers. The CEO needs to be the ultimate sponsor not the CMO.
- Design from the customer back – customer journey mapping is useful as a starting point but at best a proxy. To help break through cultural baggage, consider design thinking, as a collective guided thought process, to orient the team around customers.
- Don’t waste time reinventing – use a cloud-based customer engagement hub or platform, to provide the foundation for an omnichannel flywheel between the customer and the back-office systems. Forget about CRM point solutions, they simply won’t hack it. What is required is an intelligent customer engagement hub, and leading CRM vendors are now providing this.
- Lastly, omnichannel customer engagement is a dynamic environment so machine learning support will be required to enable enterprises to cope with the scale and volume of customer interactions.
While Millennials get all the headlines today, the wisdom of the past can often be a better guide.