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Key considerations for digital transformation

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Alison Jacobson, Britehouse Digital’s Strategy & Digital Consulting Managing Director.

Companies often find themselves straining under the demand of remaining competitive and relevant in a hyper-connected world.

Customers are fully able to bypass your advertising, compare pricing and features, and switch between brands at the click of a button. Digital is everywhere, and it can either be the fuel for your success or your failure.

The fact is that a customer-centric, agile approach to your digital strategy will help you future-proof your business. So how do you design your own winning digital strategy? Here is a recommended approach that will deliver very clear returns.

1. Working from the outside in
To avoid a superficial or narrow focus your digital transformation journey must address customer touch points as well as operations, logistics and supply chain. You have to cross the divide between your websites, branches, contact centres, sales teams and your operations and support through automation, big data and analytics and enterprise mobility applications.

An authentic customer-centric approach reveals so many opportunities for improvement. This spans across front- and back-office operational processes through to your entire value chain. Customer journey mapping and customer value proposition mapping, together with value chain analysis will highlight quick wins where you can digitally enable cumbersome manual processes or breaks in the journey between your different to-market channels.

What’s more, you can get exponentially more return if you consider not only your company, but your extended ecosystem – staff, consultants, suppliers, customers and their customers.

2. Maximising data and insights
Designing end-to-end customer experiences that are digitally enabled means closing the loop, continuously. The process kicks off when a customer is made aware of your offering and closes out at fulfilment, only to start again (or never stop) in an endless stream of feedback loops. This generates insights and leads to improvements in a virtuous cycle – one that is built and fed by data and insights.

Every part of your business can generate data, which provides intelligence for other parts of the business, whether these are customer experience metrics or process improvement stats from your production facilities.

It’s imperative that companies who want to go digital understand that digital businesses are data-driven. The virtuous data cycle is one of continuous improvement, and is constantly evolving performance and customer satisfaction.

3. Transforming the enterprise from within
Your digital strategy needs to be flexible and your organisation needs to be flexible in order to drive digital. You have to become dynamic and responsive to market feedback. Your digital strategy is as much about organisational transformation as it is about serving an increasingly digital customer.
Digital isn’t something you do. It’s something you are. Effective organisational design for digital is agile and self-organising. Digital businesses have highly effective sense-and-respond capabilities, more so than traditional command-and-control hierarchies.

Digital transformation is a whole business activity and as such it requires leadership to take a hands-on approach. In today’s world of digital, there is no business as usual. Everything is up for grabs as digitally fluent disruptors make their way into every industry, eating away at the margins of slower, less responsive businesses. You need to constantly reassess your position so that you can refine, adjust or replace as needed. As such, digitally-enabled business model innovation has to become a core competency at an executive level.

4. Rapid prototyping
Although a comprehensive digital framework is crucial to long-lasting competitiveness, this doesn’t mean you have to wait before driving digital to solve immediate problems.

Find the low-hanging fruit that will improve your service offering or optimise the customer journey. You can achieve quick wins with digital through rapid prototyping.

Agile sprints of no more than six weeks give rise to ongoing value creation. Quick product release cycles include real customer insights, or even better, real customers. These digital sprints create visibility and credibility for your digital transformation. More importantly, as you release these improvements into the market, you’ll listen to real customer feedback which will allow you to kick off your own virtuous cycles – continuous improvement to your processes and iterations of your digital strategy.

5. Prioritise and drive
Choose one or a few projects that offer a combination of providing the greatest value to your customers with the least cost of effort. Sprint, review, and repeat.

Your digital strategy and the organisational transformation required is a digital operating system for your business, not just a business plan with digital added in. And your digital operating system has to focus, not just on technology or marketing, but on the whole range of people, processes and policies that will allow you to operate your business successfully in a digital world.

The digital transformation journey often marks a pivot, or a move into unfamiliar territory for most existing organisations. As the digital market is moving so quickly and in such unpredictable ways, it’s essential to get strategic advice from experts who have helped other organisations disrupt themselves profitably.

Ultimately, your digital strategy will come into focus when you don’t just ask, ‘What will digital do for my company?’ but rather, ‘How will digital add value to my customers?’

By: Alison Jacobson, Britehouse Digital’s Strategy & Digital Consulting Managing Director

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