Businesses are almost universally undergoing Digital transformation today, but only five percent of organisations say they have mastered Digital to a point of differentiation from their competitors, according to a new report. On behalf of Accenture Interactive, in May 2016 Forrester Consulting conducted an online survey of 396 organizations across the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Germany, France, China, India, Japan, Brazil and Mexico to evaluate their digital and customer experience strategies. In the report, Digital Transformation in the Age of the Customer, Forrester found that "improving the customer experience" (21 percent) edged out "growing revenues" (17 percent) as the top business priority for the next 12 months.
Additionally, companies pursuing Digital transformation are primarily driven by increasing margins (58 percent), speed to market (51 percent) and customer satisfaction (48 percent), according to the report.
New rules of engagement.
At its core, Digital transformation is a way to focus an organisation and leverage new ways to engage with customers, employees and suppliers. Customer behavior is changing and quite rightly, customers demand better experiences. Companies need to ask themselves how long customers will accept poor experiences before they completely sever ties with a company. In fact, a 2014 survey by Parature discovered that 65% of consumers surveyed said they’ve cut ties with a brand over a single poor customer service experience.
Companies are focusing their Digital channel efforts on making customer interactions more engaging. A “Digital Transformation in the Age of the Customer” report by Forrester found 63 percent are planning to enhance their online experience and 46 percent are looking to add or improve their mobile offerings, but only 39 percent are focused on improving their in store experience.
Therefore, customer experience is now clearly at the heart of Digital transformation, and Digital transformation is at the centre of customer experience. Many companies have considerable ground to cover on their path to becoming Digital enterprises. They're challenged with setting a Digital vision and strategy, getting the right people in place and measuring digital success.
Who is responsible for Digital transformation in your business?
The Forrester report also found enormous differences in opinion as to who should be setting the Digital vision and strategy. According to respondents, ownership is currently divided between the CEO (38 percent), CIO (33 percent), Chief Digital Officer (10 percent) and CMO (8 percent). But when asked who should own the organisation's Digital vision and strategy, it was the CIO who came out on top (30 percent), followed by the CEO (27 percent), the CDO (17 percent) and the CMO (8 percent).
Many Digital transformation efforts fail because of the difficulty, scope and the organisational impact which connects different departments internally and aligns them to desired business outcomes. Information Technology is integral to Digital transformation, but business strategy, operational processes and metrics all need to line up as well to make that transformation successful. Any leader who sets the vision and strategy needs to have a strong understanding of IT and a clear understanding of the elements impacted upon. Whilst a significant investment in IT may need to be made, Digital transformation needs to support business alignment therefore the Digital strategy and tactics implemented need to support the business strategy.
The Forrester Consulting and Accenture Interactive reports have four main recommendations for leaders who are driving Digital transformation:
- Advocate Digital transformation and the customer experience at an executive level. Digital transformation needs to be a company-wide initiative, which requires strong collaboration and evangelism from company leaders. The study found company culture and organisation lag behind process and technology when it comes to digital readiness. For Digital transformation to succeed, you need to make cultural change and educational aspects of transformation a highlight of your plan.
- Execute change within the context of an end vision. You need a clear vision for the end-state to get everyone moving in the same direction and you need to communicate any changes to that vision during the process. Standardising on a core set of technologies that the business can build around is a great way to accelerate change and keep the organisation connected.
- Be willing to take risks and learn from mistakes. You will need to take risks and develop agile processes in order to keep up. Digitally mature companies don't require traditional approvals and a detailed business case for every change. If new functionality is in the spirit of Digital transformation and the customer experience, give it a try, solicit feedback, and then iterate on it.
- Find partners whose capabilities complement your own. Enlist third-party solution providers to help you navigate change and implement new strategies. It is often cheaper and faster than building those capabilities internally. Find partners that understand your broader strategies and have specific strengths in the functions and areas that your company lacks.