Many business strategy experts have written about digital transformation and the way that it has redefined business through the use of modern technology. I believe that there is really a much more complex blend of how people behave and use technology as well as the processes that allow new ideas to become new products or businesses. It is this mix of your business processes and people that really define how new technologies will work.
With this in mind there are four really interesting examples of strategic planning that allow companies to take advantage of digital transformation and not be swept away by them:
- Look beyond your competition; in 1958 the average lifespan of a company listed on the S&P 500 index was 61 years – this has dropped significantly now to 20 years. Just two decades – and that is for large listed companies. Think how many companies fade within a few years. The biggest danger of all is watching your competitors and failing to notice that if your industry transforms then all the existing competition may need to adjust. When Kodak failed to notice that digital photography was going to finish their business were they looking out for Instagram
- Learn directly from your customers; your business is moving so fast that your management team cannot possibly predict which services will be important in future. Your R&D and planning processes need to engage with your customers so they become a part of the future design process.
- Use leadership; transforming a business with digital tools is not just about introducing new products, it is an enormous process of change in the way that the company does business. Change always has supporters and detractors. The only way transformation can work successfully is if the top management team really supports it so your CEO and C-level executives need to be open supporters of any change.
- Align culture; management thinker Peter Drucker once said ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’. What did he mean? Simply that any manager can propose a strategy, but it doesn’t mean that people on the team will buy into it. If you can create a culture that has the right values then your team will automatically do the right thing when needed.
But regardless of how well planned any digital transformation is, there is always the human factor. No matter how well you design the customer experience in your organisation, there is always the need to remember that humans are human. Micah Solomon explains this point well in Forbes magazine:
“These connections can be positive or negative. A hardware store, even if haphazardly managed and maintained, might have the good fortune to evoke a customer’s childhood days because his mother, a craftsperson, took him to a similar store years ago on errands. A hospital, although clean, bedecked with plants, and decorated with sunny artwork, will, for some visitors with tragic prior experiences, inevitably evoke death and pain and mortality.”
So even the most perfect processes, systems, and team members might still create a negative customer experience if the customer associates that service with something negative. This view of how people will see and use your products needs to remain at the forefront of any digital strategy.
The key is to focus not on the digital system or technology itself, but on what the transformation will achieve. Just look at how beauty brand L’Oreal believes that digital transformation is creating an entirely new type of relationship with their customers. This is not just about finding new digital channels for selling, transformative processes can entirely redefine what your business does and how you interact with customers.
The human experience is digital transformation is the key point to remember, for the customer, the brand, and the product. However you design the technology or processes the most important factor will always be how can people interact and use the product once it has undergone a complete transformation.
What do you think about CX and the human touch? Leave a comment here or get in touch via my LinkedIn profile.
Photo by Logan Ingalls licensed under Creative Commons.