Digital transformation offers companies significant opportunities. Business and IT leaders around the world are now committed to it more than ever before. In a recent survey of 340 large global organizations, 73% of the companies admitted digital transformation is a priority. In fact, 70% claimed to have a formalized digital transformation strategy.
All sounds well. But dig a little deeper and cracks start to appear.
Creativity—A key aspect
It turns out that 78% of the respondents are implementing discrete digital projects and, amongst those that have a formal strategy, 46% encompass the business partially. In other words, initiatives are isolated which do not result in transformational innovation and substantial outcomes.
Imagine if Apple had released the iPod as a stand-alone product. Yes, it would have been an innovative digital strategy. But it would just have been a digital version of the Sony Walkman. Apple was successful because it reimagined how people could consume and experience music. By combining the iPod, the iTunes store, iTunes, and the ability to purchase single tracks, it transformed how customers purchase, select, own, manage, and consume music.
Another example is a truck builder and operator we worked with. The company wanted to rethink truck building and operations to drive larger revenues and margins. Although it had designed a new connected engine with an embedded computer, the company didn’t have a clear vision and tangible roadmap to transform their business model and enhance customer experience.
The embedded computer could help deliver predictive maintenance, but was that transformative enough for the company to become a global leader? In detailed research, we discovered that retention of drivers was a major problem that led to the loss of revenue and negative customer experiences, threatening the business model.
So, we looked at it from the drivers’ point of view, walking in their shoes and mapping out their day-to-day journeys. We believed that if the company truly understood their needs, desires, objectives, and aspirations, valuable insights and possibilities would be uncovered which could significantly improve the business outcome. Our innovation design approach helped the company create a clear vision and effective business model to achieve the much-desired outcomes and produce a realistic roadmap to deliver them.
When it comes to digital transformation creativity is king. Sadly, in our survey, only 33% of organizations said they were using techniques such as design thinking to rethink both the customer experience and business process design.
Experience is excellence
The need to deliver superior user experiences is well understood. Over 60% of survey respondents indicated that user experience and design are their biggest digital implementation priorities and 70% utilize their digital capabilities and technologies to improve customer experiences.
But don’t fall into the trap I have seen many companies become prey to. If you want to create great user experiences, you need to identify users’ unarticulated needs, dreams, aspirations, and hopes. Don’t just rely on the inputs of existing processes, system functionality, business analysts (BAs), and subject matter experts (SMEs). They tend to look from the inside out, documenting what they know and have seen in the past, which won’t ensure future transformation. Adopting an outside-in view is crucial to creating something new and disruptive. On the same lines, if Apple had relied on music industry experts and business analysts, I don’t think we would have the revolutionary music business model we have today.
To provide the best experience, a deep understanding of users’ demographics, objectives, challenges, needs, the outcomes they expect, the devices they use, and many other factors are needed. In the HCL Digital Consulting Practice we look at a day-in-the-life of each user from a practical and empathetic perspective. This digital consulting practice helps us understand what the world looks and feels like from their perspective, including the positive and negative experiences they witness.
Execution is everything
Companies may be committed to digital transformation but, when it comes to turning digital strategy into action, it’s a woeful tale. Just 10% said they have a plan to fully deploy their digital transformation strategy and only 26% of organizations are reaping the benefits. But why?
Even if companies have a clear digital strategy and vision, in my experience the problem they have is breaking the vision down into an implementation roadmap.
Taking projects from concept to conclusion requires a solid understanding of the potential of new technologies, the experience, and product mindset to design and deliver a scalable solution, and the skills and knowledge of how best to deploy it in order to ensure ownership, adoption, and ongoing use.
Digital transformation offers companies lucrative opportunities to re-think and re-imagine business models and customer experiences. But navigating a successful digital journey is not without its pitfalls. By following the strategy discussed above organizations can smoothen their digital journey and ensure they successfully evolve into true digital businesses.