There are compelling incentives for an organization to innovate and transform, including revenue growth, new markets, operational efficiencies, cost savings and gaining the ability to derive value from IoT data, just to name a few. While most organizations know they need to transform digitally to reap those benefits, it can be difficult to know where to start.
Digital transformation starts with a strategic plan. Once that plan is in place and you’ve selected the right development tools and platform, you’ll be ready to deliver on your digital transformation goals rapidly. The key is to think continuously and iteratively vs. thinking about a defined end to your digital transformation. You’ll never run out of ways to improve your business using technology.
Start with a strategic business and technical plan that can guide your digital experience efforts. Unlike other strategy planning processes, this should be a nimble plan that is tied specifically to the most important business goals. Five key components set organizations up for success.
- Business and Technology Alignment. Align company and team objectives and measurements.
- Customer Experience Brainstorm. Identify customer experience initiatives.
- Employee Engagement Brainstorm. Identify employee engagement initiatives.
- Channel Optimization Brainstorm. Identify partner optimization initiatives.
- Digital Initiative and Investment Summary. Produce a prioritized list of initiatives by impact and feasibility.
Align business and technology
If you have goals that cascade through your organization, you have a great starting point for step one. The idea here is to leverage any existing corporate-level strategic plans regardless of what methodology was used to drive the planning process. What’s important is that the goals reflect the organization’s primary mission. At the very top it should address major go-to-market topics like revenue, operating margins, customer growth, corporate expansion and so on. For this exercise, less is more, so simply identify the three key company objectives along with measurable results. If it can’t be measured, it can’t be a goal.
This process should be done for each major business function, including sales and marketing, products and services, finance and operations and customer service.
Brainstorming the customer experience
Since digital transformation starts with the customer, we’ll first brainstorm what we can do to improve the customer experience. Start by choosing a slogan as a guiding principle or some inspirational approach to get people in the right mindset. Next, assess customer preferences for both digital and physical interactions by doing a high-level persona evaluation. Consider their geographic location and the potential of harvesting IoT sensor data to more deeply engage them. It’s important to identity future customer considerations as well and to understand just who comprises your audience. Different generations have different preferences. Finally, consider digital opportunities at each stage of the customer journey from pre-sale, to the actual purchase process, to post-sale.
Brainstorming the employee experience
Employee engagement and customer engagement are symbiotic, with research revealing that organizations with happy, productive employees have much higher customer satisfaction ratings and profitability, plus the ability to attract and keep quality talent.
We will use an approach for employee engagement that will produce the same output as the customer experience process. I like to use an attract and retain every day approach to set the stage. Think in terms of the entire employee lifecycle, which includes branding and recruiting. Think also of innovative tools to make employees lives easier and more efficient, such as mobile field service apps that leverage sensor data to further enable productivity.
Brainstorming partner optimization
Depending on the structure of your organization, it may be important to consider your channel or partner ecosystem. Take a holistic partner ecosystem approach and consider aspects such as:
- Partner recruitment and training
- Company and partner system integration
- Partner selling and transaction support
Don’t neglect your supply chain and your sales and marketing channel. In both cases, it’s imperative to think about the entire partner lifecycle.
Digital initiative investment strategy
Before we prioritize and build a high-level timeline, it’s time to think about digital from a different perspective. This will complement the assessment that you did for customer, employee and partner.
In this exercise, you’ll consider how digital or the combination of digital and physical can be used to impact each company objective. You should include each discipline that was identified as part of the upfront corporate goal alignment step.
Next, prioritize your digital initiatives by assessing three elements: value, acceptance and risk. Plot them on a diagram like the one below where impact represents value, and success feasibility addresses both acceptance and risk into a single factor. One way to do this is to place each digital project in the appropriate quadrant, looking for initiatives that have the highest impact as well as the highest probability of success.
To be successful, participants in this exercise need to come from across the enterprise. In addition to AppDev and IT, they should include groups like sales and marketing, products and services, finance and operations and customer service. By the end of the process, you should have a clear plan for success for your organization’s digital transformation.
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