With the increased adoption of emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT), blockchain and augmented and virtual reality, most businesses are trying to keep up with these changing times.
However, many businesses haven’t fully adopted even the most basic digital technologies, including mobility, cloud, social media and big data analytics. If you as the CEO or owner of your business haven’t yet started a digital transformation, I believe you are already too late. It is not if the current way of doing business is going to become obsolete, but when.
All business-to-consumer organizations depend on consumers. These consumers have already transitioned in their lives and behaviors to become more digital, more social, more mobile, etc. As a result, many businesses and enterprises are enabling their products, processes, services and all their customer interactions to become more digital as well. Otherwise, they could risk losing their customers and revenues to other, digitally savvier competitors.
The disruption is led by consumers, not technology. We have to suitably develop solutions that address the right need and set our goals accordingly. For some businesses, this could mean leveraging the cloud. For others, this might mean going mobile-first, becoming social media agile or implementing IoT and other advanced technologies. There is no one solution that fits all organizations, and it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It is all case by case.
I’ve worked for companies that focused on various tech initiatives, including improved mobility, automation, cloud migration and more. In my current role, my company specializes in advising companies on their strategies regarding AI, IoT devices, chatbots and robotic process automation (RPA) to enhance the customer experience.
Throughout my time in the space, I’ve learned a few things you need to keep in mind when undergoing a digital transformation. It has to ultimately benefit the customer experience:
Determine why the digital transformation is necessary.
The size of your business and the industry sector you operate in impact which digital technologies you need to adopt.
For example, some of our larger banking and financial services clients embarked on mobile platforms to make it easy to engage their customers. Other small- to medium-sized companies leveraged social media engagement strategies that were keyword-specific, product-specific and geographic-specific to make the necessary impact.
On the other hand, there are some businesses solely built on the digital business model. It is common these days to find new-age companies, such as Uber and Airbnb, that are totally digital. They became the world’s largest taxi and accommodation providers, according to TechCrunch, without owning a single automobile or hotel asset. They have turned the legacy business models on their heads.
However, digital transformation just for the sake of keeping up on technology is futile. CEOs need to be clear about why going digital is important. This will help in selecting the right technology and solution for your company. I have always been a proponent of making business objectives customer-centric. This means that the goal here should be to enhance the ultimate customer experience.
Keep the customer top of mind.
It is imperative that all interactions consumers have with your business are fast, easy, digital, social and minimal. A few ways to do this could include leveraging the cloud, becoming mobile-first and developing an omnichannel customer interaction capability for your marketing, sales and customer service efforts to carry through the entire customer experience life cycle. Business-to-business organizations might adopt some of the above technologies and platforms based on the nature of their products and services.
Once businesses have the basic digital technologies in the works, they should quickly identify if any of the more advanced technologies, such as AI or RPA, are appropriate for them to leverage. For example, as a manufacturing or retail company, you might be able to leverage AI in your production or warehousing processes. Or a service company might be able to use RPA to impact productivity and accuracy.
Don’t overlook any challenges.
There are also some challenges you might face while pursuing this journey, such as getting all of your employees on the same page. It’s critical that you ensure complete focus is on the primary objective of enhancing the customer experience, so before making any changes, ask your team what they think, and answer any questions they have.
You also need to think about how a digital change could affect your team’s daily tasks. For example, if you are launching new social media channels, make sure you are extremely responsive to customer queries. In some cases, it might mean resourcing those departments to be available 24/7. Otherwise, it will likely lead to customer dissatisfaction.
A third challenge I’ve seen organizations face when undergoing digital transformations is building transparency and credibility, which is why it’s key to be open with the communications and solutions being shared. Please be aware that social media and cloud content lasts forever, and customers have the ability to verify and question them.
Thorough testing of AI solutions and chatbots also needs to be done through pilot rollouts, or else businesses can lose trust and credibility. Improper cloud architecture can put customer data at risk, which is why these tests are crucial (especially for financial- and health-related businesses). Be thorough in making sure your systems are highly secure.
Finally, avoid getting carried away with aggressive automation and AI and eliminating human interface in your communication. This will lead to loss of customer experience.
In conclusion, I believe it’s inevitable that organizations will need to adapt to changes in technology. But by assessing why those changes are necessary, keeping the customer in mind and preparing yourself for challenges along the way, you’ll build the foundation you need for a successful digital transformation.