Although we should be probably be citing Tim Berners-Lee rather than referencing the gym gyrations of Olivia Newton-John, what do we really mean by ‘Going Digital’ and why are so many businesses failing to achieve this aspiration?
In Steve O’Neills Information week article recently, he asked what it means to be a digital business and cites ‘Companies that only “look and feel digital” view customers from the inside out and end up applying new technologies that make life easier for employees but don’t do much to make customers happier‘. I couldn’t agree more!
Can you hear my mobile talk, my mobile talk?
To most organisations right now, going digital means getting on the bandwagon of Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud (maybe they need a ‘SMAC’ to break them out of this mindset) by recreating the existing organisational processes in digital technology based on a ‘keep in the game’ business strategy.
Porting your sales applications on to mobile devices enables them to provide more flexible on-the-road coverage but, does this really improve their ability to win and retain key business? In what way are they digitally empowered to make a difference exactly?
Is your digital strategy fit or fit to drop?
When Jeff Bezos started Amazon, he may have started by simply creating a digital channel for a traditionally physical retail process but, he also adapted the model and culture of the organisation from the outset, and at every subsequent iteration of their customer experience.
By putting the customer at the heart of the bookstore (as it was back then), and by using key transactional data from each customer visit, he added customer value, understood what consumers needed and evolved the organisation to fit; each subsequent digital capability aimed to change the market, the customer and the organisation in parallel.
It sounds simple but it was not; this ‘can adapt’ ethos needed to be integral to the fabric of the organisation and its daily approach to improving service.
What about your digital strategy going forward?
In keeping with the questionable leotard-clad fashion from the song, here are the 7-steps to avoid on the Digital Treadmill:
- Giving the board and senior leadership team iPads
- Creating workforce apps to mimic current application functionality
- Creating a mobile and online presence for your existing channels
- Going paperless with your current documentation and forms
- Creating a Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn social presence to stay in the game
- Putting all your current data in a big data powered ‘business data lake’
- Moving operational BAU applications from on-premise to cloud
I have highlighted words here such as ‘mimic’, ‘existing’, ‘current’, ‘stay in the game’, ‘current data’ and ‘BAU applications’ on purpose. No, No and No again!
Go Digital like Burberry rather than HMV
You are going digital not rationalising your IT estate! We should be thinking ‘adapt’, ‘innovate‘, ‘differentiate‘, ‘ahead of the game‘, ‘know my customer‘ and finally ‘CEI applications‘ (stands for Customer Enhancing Interactions!). If the outcome is cost-reduction without revenue and/or service enhancement, you are doing it wrong!
Note: however tempting the gift-wrapped retina screens of step 1 might be to ‘reducing the treadmill incline’ for that next funding request with your C-Level, its unlikely to result in digital success. Angry Birds does not a transformation make 🙂
This is not going digital, it’s digitising physical!
It’s not what digital can do for you but, what it could do for your customers!
Whilst you will absolutely need to incorporate some of the above concepts as part of any digital transformation initiative, going digital is in fact:
- A change of business operating model and culture
- Adaptation of existing roles, responsibilities and new skills development
- A shift from employee process-centricity to market product-centricity
- New agile operational processes with ‘customer at the heart‘ of key interactions
- A more entrepreneurial approach to business agility (CDO not COO is King)
Papering over the cracks means your digital presence is far from smooth
I have seen numerous businesses, race on the treadmill to the paperless office when actually, in my opinion, they should be striving for the officeless paper.
Taking existing customer application forms and physical channel procedures and simply making them paperless is missing the point isn’t it? All we achieve is a ‘digital movement’ of documents through an inflexible and departmentally hindered physical process.
Don’t think digital filler, think physical killer!
Why not think about this from the customers perspective first? Walk in their shoes to banish your digital blues! (I think the pop song adage is getting repetitive now!)
Instead of digitising that form, think about simplifying it based on what you already know about your customer. Think about blending information from external cloud services (such as credit bureaus and social media sites for example) and collaboration tools that reduce the effort for both the customer and the employee during key interactions and, provide a means to rapidly respond when things go wrong.
Aspirationally, think more ‘1-click customer resolution’ than ‘computer says no’ (from the Little Britain comedy) and you will be on the right track.
Oh and, if the original song holds memories for you, this fabulous Youtube ‘Lets get Digital’ Spoof might entertain you, as you ponder how to truly transform towards a digital model in your organisation.