For some, COVID has forced an acceleration of existing digital transformation plans. For others it has been a turning point where, if they had done nothing, they would have risked their very survival.
Now, more than 18 months later, the effort being put into digital transformation projects is not only continuing but is gathering pace. Digital has become the new default surface for all customer engagement and interactions.
Organisations are realising that the ‘new normal’ conditions in which they are operating will be in place for an extended period. They understand further digital transformation will be required to ensure operations can continue in the short and medium term.
For many businesses, digital transformation strategies are now being driven by a renewed ‘customer obsession.’ This is all about being able to deliver the right product or service, at the right time, to the right customer.
Often, delivering the ‘right product’ means having more focus on the customisation of that product or experience rather than simply having a generic offering. To achieve this, businesses need to put in place mechanisms and systems that allow them to achieve a better understanding of exactly who their customers are and what they want.
To gain such understanding, a business needs to start with the very first customer contact, maintain through the transaction, and then continue in post-transaction follow ups. This process involves a tightening of customer focus to align with actual customer outcomes.
In many cases, this could require an understanding of the benefits that a businesses’ products or services provide to a customer, beyond the fact that they simply purchased something. A good example is a clothing apparel and accessories manufacturer such as Hermes. They don't sell shoes and clothing but rather a luxurious experience.
As an increasing proportion of business is conducted digitally, it is providing more alternatives to gather valuable information about customers. This could be anything from the items they view on a website to whether they abandon a shopping cart before checkout.
A successful digital transformation project can also put in place new mechanisms to reach customers and prospects with targeted messaging and advertising. If you understand more about a customer’s ambitions and desired outcomes by having more data collected across digital channels, then you have a better chance of delivering a more appealing product or service at the right time.
Achieving successful digital transformation
Recognising the need to boost the pace of their digital transformation strategies, businesses are taking a range of steps. These include:
● Increasing their use of multi-cloud infrastructures to improve flexibility and adaptability. This also allows them to take advantage of economic benefits and unique platform capabilities. It becomes much easier to switch workloads across cloud providers to take advantage of the best features and reduce operating costs.
● Deploying artificial intelligence and machine learning tools to help deliver richer insights into data. Without these tools in place, such insights would be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve.
● Embracing multiple development languages to attract and retain staff at a time of talent shortages. Giving developers the freedom to innovate with the tools and technologies they feel comfortable with will make an organisation much more appealing as an employer.
● Providing broad, strategic enterprise connectivity to bring all services and data together to rapidly compose and deliver new digital products and experiences.
● Fostering a culture of discovery, self-service and re-use of services across the enterprise to speed up digital innovation and reduce the cost, time and risk associated with the delivery of new capabilities.
Maintaining the pace
As was the case prior to the pandemic, digital transformation is far from being a one-off exercise. Businesses need to put in place a strategy that will guide their efforts for an extended period.
Maintaining this pace will require the allocation of funds and staff who can undertake the work required while not being distracted by other priorities. Strategies also need to be led by senior management so they are given the priority they will require to succeed.
Those businesses that follow this strategy will be best placed to take advantage of new opportunities as they emerge and capture a larger slice of the potential market. When this is achieved, digital transformation will have delivered on its promise.