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THE NEXT CHAPTER OF DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

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Digital experience has become part of our daily world and it’s all about how we/our users see the world.   We are constantly interacting with digital, whether it is through our mobile devices, computers, TVs, local malls and so on.  It’s a constant barrage of companies looking to one up their competitors and to create something so unique or so consequential in a user’s life that your brand becomes part of their daily life.  Apple anyone?   How many of us walk around with our iPhones visible to others? Or visit Starbucks and pay with their mobile app because who carries cash nowadays?  Starbucks makes you think that paying with cash or credit card is old school and the list of companies attempting to position their experience as a critical part of their product goes on indefinitely.   Because of these experiences and customer expectations, many companies in today’s marketplace are facing huge challenges in the pursuit of their own digital transformation and ability to deliver these same personalized experiences.

In Digital, What’s New is Old

From social media to web applications, big data, websites, mobile, and smart homes people's digital lives are continually being inundated with metaphoric “updates” and new service releases.  In today’s world, what was new 24-hours ago is now old because there is always something new happening, or some new service that distracts us from something we were previously interested in.  In many cases, companies have taken user experience and improved it and every user is now comparing their business to their best digital experiences.  Mark Partner, Chairman and CEO of Nike, stated that “the consumer today expects a premium experience, with new innovative products and services that can be delivered faster and more personally.” 

Get a Digital Transformation Partner

It’s safe to say that digital transformation is in its infancy and many leaders in this space have billions of dollars to invest.  But if you aren’t Google or Microsoft how is it possible for your business to compete and create innovative products and experiences that make your customers happy?   The first step that many companies can take to begin their digital transformation is to partner with a digital transformation expert who has the capability and framework to lead a digital transformation effort.   This framework includes team members who can lead, support, evaluate as well as have the processes in place to ensure each company's unique path through the transformation can be successfully achieved.

Align Your Company to Your Digital Goals

Once you have found a partner to help with your process, what's next?   First, align your company resources and create a support structure for your digital transformation.  One simple is step is to create a cost center within the company.  By doing this, the new cost center can unite key stakeholders, allow for short-term initiatives to begin and ensure the transformation is measured and tangible.  If you aren't willing to put the financial resources of the company behind the project, then what's the point?  With resources now in line, your company can begin the next stage of your digital transformation. This can be achieved by simply rebuilding your digital presence – website, web application, mobile apps – or other mediums that a user interacts with on a regular basis.   In doing so, you can quickly update your customer experience and have an immediate win that will not only benefit the company, but also create a framework for future transformation.

Your Resources Are Required for Your Digital Transformation

It sounds simple but a recent survey on TNW listed several key challenges companies face when attempting to begin their digital transformation and you will see they are closely associated with our starting points.  There are multiple reasons indicated but for this blog entry we want to focus on two key areas – budget and human obstacles.  For those that were surveyed, 30.5% indicated that a lack of budget and resources were hindering business advancement in digital.  One can interpret this as saying the company doesn’t think it is an important change or their revenues have declined to a point where they can no longer sustain updates to their offerings.   In most of these cases, companies have a mindset that “we have always done it this way” and don’t view digital transformation as a necessity.  Instead they see the incoming revenue as sufficient, not realizing that by waiting they may have already missed the opportunity for change.

Don’t Get Comfortable

A really interesting case of this was described in a recent article about Toys R Us.  As you likely know, in September Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy.  There are many reasons for their bankruptcy, but several misses in their digital transformation journey showcase a company getting too comfortable and not realizing they were destroying their business. In the article, they lay out the previous 17-years and speak to the early wrong moves Toys R Us made when they partnered with Amazon. The main takeaway of the article is that Toys R Us started their digital transformation but were slow to react to the marketplace. In the end, they failed because they didn’t have a coherent digital strategy paired with a unique high-touch experience that users desire and demand in today’s marketplace. As a result, they essentially gave the keys to their kingdom to Amazon who was entirely focused on delivering what the customer wanted.

Human Barriers Can Be Challenging

In addition to budgeting, 25% of those surveyed said that politics, egos, fear and other “human” barriers stood in the way of digital transformation.   The survey doesn’t indicate the positions of the persons surveyed within their organization, but our digital agency experience can back this up 100%.  Often, there is someone sitting in the room who sees digital transformation as an attack on them, or immediately thinks that their own position in the company is at risk.   For example, a frequent talking point during digital upgrades is around moving their online properties into the cloud and giving them all the benefits that a cloud framework can provide.  Someone in the room will always say, “well what are we going to do with all of our servers and the administrative staff who support the hardware?”  Are they wrong?  No, as these are considerations that need to be accounted for, but it removes the digital benefits from the conversation and turns it into a personal discussion about one person or one group within the company. The focus should be on how digital transformation can support their role and what benefit is there for the end user? 

Digital transformation is about business success.   For everyone involved it is an opportunity to put egos in check and look at what the company needs to be successful. 

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