It takes an integrated business approach to delight and retain customers — every time, across every touch point

As a long-time champion of market-leading global enterprise software products, I have been in the world of digital transformation for quite some time, digitizing activities, tasks, and processes all along. It seems like ages ago since my enterprise business product-oriented colleagues and I first began the digitization process of enterprises. And we have since seen various business models change too. So what exactly is digital transformation and how does real life differ from all the hype? I’ll outline the key differences and highlight why it's a big deal.

1. Pace of change is getting faster than businesses can keep up

Every business across every industry is a technology business now. This has accelerated the pace of business transformation and technology innovation regardless of the products or services it offers. It has surpassed the pace at which companies operate today. This is forcing businesses to develop a new operating culture of proactively adapting and continuously evolving. Achieving business agility that comprises of operational and strategic agility — where a business sense and respond to the customer need quickly and continuously is key to the success. Past processes and approaches around establishing long-term strategies, annual budget cycles, annual talent management, and bureaucratic operational processes don’t work in the digital world.

2. Customers expect to be served when they want it, where they want it, and how they want it

Customers in a digital world have choices as preferences evolve. Successful businesses have learned how to develop deeper empathy with customers and delight customers across every touch point from initial interaction, to developing, delivering, servicing, and repeat use of their solution or service. This has changed technology innovation to become business-enabled and a team sport where solutions get co-authored with customers. Successful businesses have adopted an integrated approach of having cross-functional teams from various departments  work in an autonomous environment with shared goals. Such cross-functional teams work in an accelerated build-test-deploy cycle, across customer journey maps, to improve the overall experience as the new working model. This has forced IT to grow out of their silo — a mostly internal operational agenda — to an innovation partner of a business that is aligned on achieving the desired customer and business outcome.

3. It is about cultural change to succeed in this digital age — top to bottom

Whether you are working at the top of the leadership ladder or as an individual contributor — skill and behavior expectations require changing significantly at both ends to be successful in the digital world. There is a lot of expectation for bottom-up transformation due to the democratization of approaches and autonomy within a company to accelerate customer connected innovation. Similarly, there are significantly different leadership mindsets and cultural behavior expectations from the leaders to transform themselves, be the role models, and change agents in the digital world. This has driven different leadership demands where technology leaders are expected to bring various company functions to operate together — busting down the traditional silos, gaining strategic alignment, processes, transforming culture, and growing talent needed to become a business co-creator.

Bottom line: Change or Become Obsolete

Ignore digital business transformation at your own peril. With the rising pace of change, more businesses are getting disrupted than ever before and experiencing a shorter life span. Businesses in the digital world are expected to create operating conditions where they are ready for continual evolution and proactively adapt as part of their new DNA… or face irrelevance. And that is at the heart of any digital business transformation — businesses that successfully pursue digital business transformation agenda focus heavily on cultural change agenda and operate differently than their competitors. Today there is more focus on HOW over WHAT.

Opportunity Abounds

The good news here is that digital business transformation is tilling the land and unearthing a great set of opportunities that were unavailable before for a traditional business. As traditional businesses undertake the digital business transformation journey they uncover various adjacency ready to be disrupted that can grow their overall market. Businesses that are ready to challenge the status-quo and willing to ride the transformation wave are positioned to reap significant rewards.

Stay tuned for Part 2 to understand more about how to approach the transformation journey.

Author: Burke Autrey

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