Design For Digital #2 – What’s Your Story?
The name may suggest differently, but Digital Transformation is all about people. Whatever solution is shaped, it needs to be based on an outside-in perspective, designed from a deep empathy for what drives the people involved. And as we are only human, we prefer compelling stories above a long list of requirements, hefty specification documents and multi-layered diagrams. The ability to tell a story, and even better to listen to a story, is critical in creating digital experiences that actually excite and delight.
Much of digital transformation focuses on the customer experience, operations and new business models. In these fields, and in the next areas of transformation, new solutions have to visibly and powerfully help leadership turn digital investment into digital advantage. The best way to achieve that purpose is to move from the concept of or to the concept of and.
The digital enterprise as a social enterprise deeply understands that people are integral to making the transformation vision true. It appreciates people as individuals and it appreciates the power of the crowd to intelligently co-create with customers, employees, partners and others involved - in a culture of collaboration for mutual business benefit.
The priority of the digital enterprise is first to respond to, second to anticipate, every wish of its customers – providing them with a first-rate experience: the customer perspective is fast becoming the viewpoint from which all enterprise transformation is being assessed and shaped. But long-term growth and profitability depend on investing in the front end of the customer experience and investing in parallel in enabling capabilities.
To successfully invest in enabling capabilities – such as adaptive operational processes – the customer experience and the employee experience have to be developed along symmetrical lines. We need to visualize a coin, the two sides of which being the customer and the employee value propositions.
Finally, a key measure of transformation leadership is the corresponding evolution of the enterprise and of its ecosystem. Social has transformed the way in which enterprises conceive their place in the world and how engaged they are with it. They evolve their cultures through a process of co-creation and innovation, they harness the collective intelligence of their ecosystem and engineer their enterprises to use social to maximize the transformational impact of their solutions.
In such a world – with multiple perspectives – it is a matter of taking a radical outside-in approach, always taking the viewpoints and drivers of the individuals involved as the starting point. Design Thinking (as mastered by iconic companies such as IKEA) should be the key inspiration here: it combines the notions of purpose (taking the needs of personas as input for envisioning customer journeys and employee journeys), human-centricity (tapping into the power of empathy and compassion) and iteration (mixing research, creativity, intuition and experimentation to jointly create solutions in an explorative way). Design thinking certainly requires new skills such as creative design, human research, concept testing and user experience – UX – development.
The excellent new, future vision of the Consumer Goods Forum ("Rethinking the Value Chain: New Realities in Collaborative Business") prominently features the persona-based journeys of different consumers in 2025: Jorge and Isabelle in São Paulo - typicall city-dwellers with young kids, Manju and Puja - a newly married couple living in a single story dwelling in the Indian countryside, Maureen - an ‘empty nester’ from a small city in the south of England, Jamie - a 26-year old business professional living in urban Boston and not interested in owning a car, as he often works remotely. Though their eyes, we much better understand their individual needs, what drives them day to day and to what extent the new digital world will change their lives.
Above all, design thinking requires the appreciation of a good, compelling story. If we start to live and breathe the stories of our customers, partner and employees – of our fellow humans – we are truly well on our way to become digital masters.
Expert: Maggie Buggie
Part of Capgemini's TechnoVision 2016 update series. See the overview here.