Lessons learned from common mistakes in digital transformation
We are in the eye of the perfect storm. An imminent recession, changing attitudes accelerated by the pandemic and a population in rapid shift with higher and higher expectations when it comes to digital and customer experience. What’s happening right now is a clear, serious sign to all companies (regardless of size) that it’s finally time to take digital seriously.
In a previous article, I explored the key concepts of digital transformation and the radical questioning of how we approach the use of technology, human resources and processes within an organization in order to improve the company’s performance.
In this article, I will share a few lessons that I’ve learned over the years by taking part in different digital transformation projects.
“Learn from the mistakes of others.
You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt
1. Define your business goals before you invest
Digital transformation (DT) offers organizations the opportunity to understand today’s buyer, engage with them and meet their expectations in terms of a multichannel customer experience. It’s a particularly attractive mission for leaders who wish to leave a lasting legacy.
Often, when an organization is thinking about improving its performance through the use of digital technology, they have a specific tool in mind that they build their thinking around. For example, “Our organization needs a CRM strategy/artificial intelligence.” That’s a mistake. DT should first and foremost be guided by business goals, from which you can then develop a customized digital strategic vision. The choice of technology should be secondary, so that it’s perfectly adapted to the goals and strategies you’ve set.
2. Draw on internal rather than external competencies
Companies seeking transformation (digital or other) often appeal to an army of external consultants who have a tendency to apply one-size-fits-all solutions in the name of “best practices.” I’ve learned the hard way that it’s better to first consult with the employees and leaders with an intimate knowledge of what usually works and what doesn’t in their organization. It’s only after these invaluable insiders have been consulted that you should be turning to external providers or internalizing competencies. Note that if leaders do bring in external consultants, it’s essential for them to emphasize that the DT process is a unique opportunity for employees to grow their expertise and adapt to the market of the future.
3. Design the customer experience from the outside in
If the goal of DT is to improve customer satisfaction and relationships, it goes without saying that any effort should be preceded with a diagnostic phase based on in-depth contributions by customers. Experience has shown that, very often, the best way to maximize customer satisfaction is to make small-scale changes, adjusting different tools and points of contact along the customer journey. The only way to know where and how to modify tools is to obtain detailed, in-depth information on your customer. Consequently, the main predictor of success that allows you to offer a flawless multichannel experience isn’t your CRM system, but the ability of your organization to analyze and study the data you collect.
4. The customer is the one behind the wheel
By all accounts, digital technology has transformed our consumption habits. Mobile devices, apps, machine learning, automation and a great many other things allow customers to get what they want at almost the exact moment they need it. This recent digital technology has transformed customers’ expectations and given rise to a new type of buyer, a buyer who’s always connected, a native app or web user, and aware of the options technology offers.
Because of the opportunities offered by the emergence of new technology, customers are now evaluating organizations first and foremost based on their digital experience. To enhance this experience, it’s therefore imperative to familiarize yourself with this new type of digital customer.
5. Encourage start-up culture
Given that the DT process is intrinsically uncertain, tech start-ups are known for agile decision-making and rapid prototyping. Changes need to be made provisionally, then adjusted; decisions need to be made quickly and groups from across the entire organization need to be pushing in the same direction. This need for agility and prototyping is even more pronounced than it might be in other change management initiatives, because so many digital technologies can be personalized. Leaders need to decide which applications to use with which suppliers, identify the business sector that would benefit most from the switch to the new technology, determine whether the transition should be carried out in phases, etc. People, processes and mentalities therefore need to be taken into account during the financial planning stages in order to establish a priority roadmap for agile prototyping.
6. “Digital first”: an essential state of mind
To avoid deer-in-headlights syndrome, how should a company without much digital experience get started? Yes, you’ll need to invest – but most of all, you’ll need to commit.
You need to identify the right partner, the right agency or internal players who will be best able to establish a climate favourable to digital within the organization. It’s a major challenge, but one that’s crucial if you want to prosper in the economy of the future.
Digital is no longer necessarily something that just happens on a computer. Once upon a time it may have been a complementary channel, but now it’s a must, in that it has completely transformed the way that consumers buy goods and services. Digital is now just as important as having a truck, a delivery fleet, a store or any other model we’ve relied on in the past.
In a contemporary society in constant evolution, always connected and always shifting, organizations are being forced to consider the implementation of a DT strategy in a very serious way, if they haven’t done so already. DT has proven fruitful for companies whose leaders have returned to their fundamental priorities by working to change the mindset and culture of their organizations, adapt organizational processes related to strategic planning and operational governance, and done all this before selecting the digital tools they will need to make the shift.
It’s the place digital will hold in the future of the company that should guide the choice of technology, and not the reverse.