There are many forms of digital transformation. Some businesses are being altered by the ability of machines to analyze and think, in addition to communicate with each other. Others are dealing with an influx of data that—done right—will lead to a revamp of processes centered around customers. Still others are completely recreating their customer experience based on what’s possible in the digital era.
What’s not different is how companies should prepare for this digital journey.
1. Get a map. You wouldn’t drive in an unfamiliar area without turning on your GPS or your map app. But some companies are attempting to prepare for digital transformation without a clear plan. Roadmapping your journey includes fully developing the role new technologies will have in your business evolution, understanding what digital means for each business area and being able to articulate the opportunities involved.
2. Step on it. As soon as you’ve got a route mapped out, grab your gear and jump in your vehicle. Companies that postpone this trip will be left in the dust because innovation is virtually the only thing that matters right now. IT leaders must constantly seek ways for technology to facilitate the development of new products and services. Just as important, they must be able to articulate these ideas to IT-savvy and not-so-IT-savvy business leaders.
3. Travel light. Jealous of people who arrive at their destination with one small bag and still manage to look fabulous the entire time? Here’s your chance to emulate them. Take a hard look at your processes and throw out anything that isn’t a core competency. Don’t chuck them out the window, of course—carefully hand them to a reliable outsourcer.
4. Pick up the right people. Yes, your mother told you not to pick up strangers. But on this journey, you’ll want to seek out as much digital talent as you can. PwC says 73% of CEOs believe the lack of employees with key technical skills is a threat to their company’s growth. These days, spending time searching for full-time hires may not be the best option. Often, a team of outside professionals put together specifically for your needs and intimately familiar with your industry is a faster way to get you where you need to go.
5. Install screens in the back seat. Are we there yet? OK, this one’s a bit of a stretch, but digital transformation is hard, so work with HR to help every employee stay engaged. They need to understand why you’re doing this, what the plan is and what success will look like along the way.
As stated, digital transformation takes many forms and does not happen overnight. Let’s look at some digitally enabled customer-experience transformations taking place right now.
Online retailer. A major specialty food company created a 20-question quiz to learn more about its customers likes, dislikes and eating habits. After completing the online quiz, site visitors can receive personalized suggestions about recipes they might enjoy.
Restaurants. A large fast-food chain is installing kiosks that let customers customize their food. It’s also supporting mobile-pay solutions, giving away products related to national TV ads via social media and using a digital newsroom to keep various departments informed about marketing, legal news and social media trends.
Apparel. An athletic apparel company created a platform to track, analyze and share personal health data to customers’ phones. Worn running shoes increase the chance of injury, so the company notifies customers when they have run more than 400 miles and offers new products based on their athletic behavior and purchase history. A similar program was later introduced for hiking boots. The app also lets the company identify fitness and health trends, leading to a fast deployment of localized marketing and distribution after identifying a walking trend in Australia.
The path to digital transformation could be bumpy at times, but there’s little doubt the journey is worth taking. So tie your shoes, grab some snacks and hit the road.