The digital era is rich with opportunity. However, it also comes with a myriad of pitfalls. While customers enjoy an enhanced user experience and a wealth of choice and flexibility, it can be quite a different journey for businesses.
Knowing where to start with digital transformation is far from easy. For many companies, the concept of overhauling a workplace culture, retraining staff, and remodeling long-trusted practices is a daunting prospect.
But here’s the thing: digital transformation is no longer an option.
It’s no longer just a means of communication or even a separate marketing channel.It is the channel. It is the future. Digital Darwinism is upon us.
How to Survive Digital Transformation
Digital transformation isn’t just a quick add-on. As Uber and Airbnb have already proven, it is a full-scale disruption. Industries will continue to evolve and advance in the quest of providing the best possible customer experience.
The problem that many businesses face is that they are prepared to keep up, rather than step up. Research by CIO ascertains that this attitude is simply papering over the cracks of ailing systems, which is not a great foundation for the future.
Over the past decade, giants like Borders, Kodak, and Blockbuster have succumbed to digital Darwinism because they weren’t able to maintain pace with the rapid changes.
Even in the stronger economy of today, major retailers like Sears and JC Penney are faltering.
Knowing how to approach digital transformation and survive the changes has never been more critical. Let’s explore 10 ways organizations can survive in this ever-evolving and often tricky landscape.
1. Adopt a Customer-Centric Ethos
To get ahead of the pack, companies must become finely attuned with what customers actually want. Investigate how your target audience engages with your brand, whether it is on the website, through email or social media.
Luxury brands have been fast to adapt, taking into consideration that 98% of luxury shoppers have smartphones. They have responded by developing a very customer-centric focus, targeting these users with interactive apps.
L’Oréal is the perfect example, using digital to communicate with people in a conversational way and developing a massive following by using influencers to promote their brand.
Businesses should always look to improve their understanding of customer behavior, at every stage of the buying journey. Having this customer-focused attitude as a guiding principle of your digital transformation is integral to success.
2. Avoid Digital Silos
Remarkably, 52% of companies don’t share their customer intelligence data with other departments outside their contact center. Creating these data silos in the digital age is a stumbling block that prevents progress.
Digital is no longer a stand-alone department. Just as the body has several vital parts that ensure survival, a business has many key facets that make it possible to remain competitive. To stop sharing information and restrict communication between various departments will only make the business suffer.
Digital should be embedded across the organization, uniting the workforce with a common vision and shared goals. Breaking down silos is a major step to transforming for the future.
3. Track Metrics That Matter
Getting a lot of likes and comments on your social media posts may seem like things are working, but it’s often a false dawn. These vanity metrics don’t give you the full truth when it comes to customer engagement.
McKinsey research shows that less than 15% of businesses are in a position to quantify the impact of their digital initiatives. Rather than focusing on the social media stats, consider the Return on Experience (ROE) and Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).
These let you know what really matters – do your customers enjoy the experience with your brand? By getting a better understanding of the customer journey, you can find the friction and look to improve the ROE.
4. Make Smart Investments
Going digital is not a one-track road. There is a plethora of choices laid out for companies to choose from. It’s important to figure out what will give the best return on investment at any given time. Perhaps more spending is needed on staff training and development so they have the skills for the digital future. Or, maybe it’s better to invest in a social media advertising campaign.
With big data, cloud computing and customer relationship management becoming increasingly popular, it isn’t easy to decide on the best avenue. Investments in digital transformation are expected to top $2 trillion in 2020.
Making the right choice will save money and equip your business for the years to come.
5. Explore Multiple Channels
The digital age provides consumers with many different ways to research products, interact with brands, and make purchases online. Companies can’t afford to rely on only one channel. Instead, they must consider every touch point in the buyer’s journey.
Studies show that most customers go through several channels before making a purchase. More striking is that those customers who use multiple channels spend an average of 82% more on every transaction. That’s a lot of opportunity that can’t be ignored.
6. Focus on Leadership
Digital transformation cannot happen without leadership. Moreover, it can’t happen without leaders who are prepared for the digital age.
Deloitte claims that 42% of companies believe developing leaders is very important. With digital Darwinism taking down companies that lack the right figureheads, companies must have leaders who are well versed in digital practices and open to innovative new trends and ventures.
Having genuine skilled digital leaders in charge will dramatically improve the chances of a successful digital transformation.
7. Leverage Big Data and Machine Learning
The rise of machine learning is, ironically, making the online shopping experience more personalized. By exploiting the full potential of data insights and automation, businesses can learn much more about their customers, ultimately putting them in a stronger position to fulfill their needs.
When the vice president of Airbus, Leonard Lee, planned to leverage the massive potential of the data they collect, he was on to something. Airbus has used this data to improve their customer experience, through initiatives such as predictive maintenance. This has helped the company save over $36 million in one year.
8. Empower Your Workforce
Technology may wield a lot of power and potential, but it is useless without knowledgeable people around it. One of the biggest barriers to digital transformation that many companies face, is that they have a workforce who aren’t skilled or knowledgeable about digital.
Instilling a digital culture that fosters communication, learning and development is key to any company evolving. There are a lot of benefits to empowering your workforce, such as increasing customer satisfaction and also boosting workforce performance and productivity.
Microsoft Japan conquered long-ingrained traditions in the country to implement cloud technology. Their initiative, Telework Week, brought cloud and mobile technology to the forefront, producing incredible results including 3,281 productivity hours gained and $10,000 in annual savings per employee.
9. Track Trends and Digital Developments
It’s not easy to stay on top of every new development. However, the companies that have their ear to the ground will be the those spearheading the charge to the future.
Innovation is a key skill for any digital leader, and as such, it is crucial that companies undergoing digital transformation look to embrace new social media platforms or adopt intuitive software.
Starbucks launched a mobile application that allowed them to attract more customers and build brand loyalty. Most importantly, it helped to increase total revenue. The app includes a digital loyalty system, which eliminates the need for old-fashioned cards. Its success continues to soar, with over 12 million users across the US.
10. Don’t delay
When it comes to digital disruption, the ability to quickly adapt and try new things is vital. Even if it fails, getting involved and learning from the mistakes are not something that companies can delay any longer.
Gartner research estimates than only 30% of companies who undertake a digital transformation will actually succeed. With technology like artificial intelligence progressing so rapidly, there is no time to waste. Companies that don’t get involved now will be left behind, possibly to the extent that they will never catch up.
The digital age provides businesses with the means to connect with their customers, digging deeper into the market to truly deliver valuable content and useful products and services that people want and need.
Making a full digital transformation is essential to keep pace with the rapid movement to the future. Companies must find the balance between people and digital technology to remain relevant.
Global futurist, Chris Riddell, believes this is not just a technology revolution, but a human revolution. There is no time left to debate about digital Darwinism. It’s here and the next few years will shape the century ahead.