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There is no escape from the need for digital transformation

17

DECEMBER, 2018

By Salvator Vella, François Delvaux

Today there is no safe harbour to shield businesses from the competition of digitally-native companies or from players with pure digitally driven business models. The sheer size of a company is no longer enough of a factor to protect a company. Big market leaders such as GE, IBM, bpost, or BNP Paribas Fortis are having to adapt to the emerging force of digital and facing new challengers in their markets.

Digital transformation is much more than an IT project

Digital transformation that is framed internally in a business just an IT project to improve the front office of your company is doomed to fail. As said your customers expect a different experience beyond just the product they buy and have as benchmark the instant gratification that the GAFA offers them. A transformation can’t be achieved just by a new mobile app and a chatbot built on top of an existing business process that was designed years ago. Accelerating a traditional business processes without ensuring it improves the customer experience does not drive the desired impact. This path is daunting because the impact goes far beyond the limits of the IT department.

Digital transformation means everything and nothing.

Digital transformation should not be confused with concepts as Digitization or Digitalization:

  • Digitization is the conversion of analog and physical information to digital format (for example user manual)
  • Digitalization is the use of digital technologies to enable or improve current business models and processes.

It is quite clear that digitization and digitalization often predate digital transformation, but they are far from being sufficient

Today companies use the term digital transformation too often and too broadly.

As said earlier it is not because a business implemented a new technology tool internally nor by naming a digital officer that the business can claim a digital transformation.

Digital transformation can go as far as completely changing the business model of a company. It can encompass all the aspects of the business: HR, sales, marketing, production, pricing, etc. and is therefore a strategic journey from the current situation to the future state – this can happen gradually or fast.

Keep in mind that to help reduce the complexity of such a journey it can help to:

i) divide what needs to be done into small digital initiatives that are well defined

(ii) keep your plan dynamic as market and competition evolve and stay agile – focusing on what needs to be done

(iii) you need to ensure get your personnel along with you as part of the journey as the digital transformation represents major changes in working methods; ensuring deploy relevant training and change management programs.

Customer centric digital transformation

At Minds&More we believe that digital transformation is far too broad. We think what is more relevant is a customer centric digital transformation for a business  – Companies should start from the outside in (and not vice versa) and determine ways that digital can help to innovate, bring new offers, and evolve the purchasing/usage process and overall customer experience.

Companies can integrate digital over a period of time as part of applying a customer centric approach. If the digital investments does not positively enhance the customer interactions, customer experience or bring additional value then the company will not get the returns it is looking for. Customers need to be at the core of such a digital transformation or digital evolution. Ideally start by mapping the buyer journeys of a customer segment, seeing where there are customer paint points and using digital enablers to address these pain points. The approach can be gradual – addressing pain points one at a time and getting quick wins.  We see this approach working today with our clients be it in the construction/build materials sector, insurance, travel payment and expense management.

François Delvaux

Partner at Minds&More

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