“Hello Tomorrow!” We now live in a living, breathing, constantly changing, digital landscape. The rate of transformation is accelerating as fast as technology is, and the role each of us plays is also changing to keep pace. This landscape affects every organization from the digital startup with their disruptive idea, to large multi-national corporations seeking to maintain their position as an incumbent market leader.
If we take a step back from the frantic changes, we see that organizations today can be divided into two types: those that were born in the digital age and those that are in the process of being digitally reborn. Those that don’t successfully transform or learn to easily adapt, responding to the necessity of being truly digital, will not withstand the changes in today’s new digital market.
Kodak, a global household brand name a few years ago, didn’t take the right steps to go digital, nor did it correctly understand who its real competitors were. Barnes & Noble, the brick and mortar giant, is struggling to be relevant in the digital age. Amazon was born digital, and today, it is one of the fastest growing companies in its sector. Netflix was also born digital and continues to adapt and grow seemly exponentially.
The impact of the digital age is being felt around the world. Digital business models are now affecting and influencing every business sector. For businesses to survive and thrive in the digital age, they must be agile and flexible, be able to scale up and down at will, be intimate with their customers, understand what they want, and engage with them through whatever means their customers desire.
The key is about cultivating an organization that will foster the adoption of digital practices. It isn’t as simple as it may sound — a lot of organizations who tried and failed mis-stepped and developed the wrong digital app in the process. The majority of those are sitting on the shelf, unused, after a short trial period.
Some failed because it wasn’t useful or was poorly designed. According to Apple, 6 percent of all app submissions to the App Store are rejected on the basis of bad design alone. In an effort to keep costs low, some companies outsourced to foreign workers who often work at cutthroat rates and promise near instant results. While these claims might appear attractive, rarely are they able to deliver upon their initial commitments.
Being reborn digitally means changing the internal business culture, step by step, from a traditional functional, siloed organization into a flat, modular machine. Research shows that modular organizations reach digital maturity with greater ease. They encourage distributed decision-making and empower middle management. Empowering these internal teams with digital tools, they can reach a higher degree of autonomy, and will work from within to reform it.
So, the business need of the moment is to be reborn digital. How is this accomplished? To transform your organization into an agile, fully digital organization, you need to take a top-down approach to change. It starts at the C level. This means you must be a leader who will take ownership of the entire customer experience and lead the team to developing and implementing digital initiatives. Here are three imperatives to getting it right.
1. Focus on the Customer Journey. Customer experience now drives everything. If you’re trying to be digital, but not starting with a customer focus, you’re not likely to get it right. You have to get to know your current digital customers thoroughly. Learn all you can about them. What do they seek from your business? What are the challenges of reaching and serving them? Create a Customer Journey Map that details the most critical customer touchpoints and make sure you are getting them right. Run a pilot, run tests, do surveys, gather feedback. Business success in the future is all about the customer. Period. Head your oganization in that direction. Do it now.
2. Realign your Organization. Use your Customer Journey Map to align small cross-functional teams with each key customer touchpoint. Think of these teams as startups within your organization. Shape them so that you can send a team of highly focused specialists to work on different functions identified in the Map. It’s like bringing together an adhoc medical team to tackle an emergency. Each professional knows their function, when to deliver their expertise, and when they have met their objective and should stand back. That is the work style of the future for all organizations. It becomes much more about the customer’s experience, not the department’s mission. Digital transformation requires an organization that’s free from authority silos, staffed with cross-functional specialists, and eager to rise to new customer challenges.
3. Stay alert. Transformation never stops. Every member of your cross-functional teams must continuously seek out new trends and evolving processes and practices to improve the customer experience. The idea of Digital Transformation doesn’t stop once it has been implemented. Transformation (or business evolution) is a continuously ongoing process. Research and development and seeking creative uses of technology to enhance your brand experience and the underlying customer journey are keys to progress. Effective leaders should understand that they need to constantly be looking for new ways technology can transform their business, while validating that the changes you’re making are market appropriate. Test, Research, test, and test again. It’s more important than ever to be running small experiments with new technologies and processes. Devise an experiment you can conduct on a test group of customers with the goal of improving the customer journey or providing a new and interesting one. The digitally transformed organization is able to experiment, innovate, and offer new products and services with new business models just as quickly as customer needs change. Run experiments, build a prototype, research, get feedback, and don’t stop. Improving the customer journey is going to become job number one. And, it won’t end when you get there.
At CabForward, we know what it takes to be digitally reborn and truly care about the success of your product. How much do we care?
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