A Framework for Digital Strategy & Transformation

Digital is the new buzzword. It means a lot of things to lot of people. One thing is for sure, it has come to represent an evolved view of how software can help transform businesses and consumers in an unprecedented way. This article describes a strategy framework for digital enterprises. This article also uses a case study to share insights and learnings.

Objectives

The objective of any digital strategy and transformation project should be to create a digital experience that puts customer at the center of the experience. The new digital experience must improve efficiency and effectiveness, by orders of magnitude, in reaching customers, delighting users, growing business and in achieving operational excellence. This implies creating a new digital architecture or a blue print for success that intersects business, marketing, technology and design. For a sustained transformation to becoming a digital enterprise, digital has to be at the core of this new strategy.

Digital Experience Defined

Any time a customer interacts with a digital device via a touch point to transact business or avail service, the enterprise is creating a digital experience for that customer. That experience could be visiting a mobile web site or downloading an app to paying a bill from a mobile phone or trying to reach customer support.

Anatomy of a digital enterprise

A digital enterprise demands moving from preservation of records in digital formats to engaging digitally with people, processes and things. In order to engage effectively, a digital enterprise needs to consider 5 pillars. They are design, technology, marketing, business process and people as shown in the diagram below.

 

Design of user experiences

Organizations need to design a user experience for all types of users – new and old – across all touch points and devices. This is a tough problem as older (not necessarily elder) customers would be used to a predictable albeit cumbersome experience. Experiences that sound pedantic to new and younger customers who are used to growing up with digital devices may backfire. A successful design can only come about from deep user understanding. This is often not well understood or is typically rushed in the race to become a digital enterprise. Another major consideration is augmenting physical experiences with digital. Digital experiences need not be in isolation. Digital experiences expect location awareness and behavioral history to offer contextual services by leveraging user data. The user can be anywhere and yet be part of a brand’s digital experience.

Use of Technology

We are at the cusp of several technological trends. To name a few, there are bots, virtual reality, Blockchain etc. The rise of bots is a great example of automation. It is replacing low/semi-skilled, procedural, labour intensive roles with automated responses. Situational awareness from use of analytics and Machine Learning are creating incredibly intelligent autonomous systems. Blockchain technology’s distributed ledger is another revolutionary approach to storing and transacting records that is bringing vast efficiencies to hitherto closed systems.

Business Processes

With all of the changes happening around, it is hard to ignore the impact on internal and external business processes. Processes that have been created for on-boarding, managing vendor, partner, customer relationships, curation of inputs, life cycle management, sales, customer support etc. will all need to be looked at afresh with the lens of what is now possible.

Digital Marketing

Is marketing going to be all digital? Perhaps not. But, there is no doubt that Internet is the dominant medium of discovery of new products and services. The challenge with digital marketing for a traditional industry is to embrace digital in a way that preserves and extends their brand value on the digital medium.

People and Culture

Moving to an entirely digital enterprise requires a tremendous mindset shift. Unless the people driving change have either seen or understood the destination, it is difficult to create an inspiring vision and a roadmap. As a result there may be a lot of talk and investment but the end result may not be in symphony with the user trends. Also, traditional industries such as banking, oil and gas etc. have to work within the stipulated government regulations. Regulations should not regulate Innovation. There is still a huge canvas of opportunities to provide outstanding digital experiences while working within the boundaries of regulations.

Summary

Any digital strategy and transformation project will need to be looked at holistically. Leadership and technology are two areas commonly identified by companies for digital transformation. However, it will be unsustainable if we ignore design, business process realignment, thoughtful marketing and culture along the journey to create a rewarding customer centric digital enterprise.