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Less than a decade after its breakthrough, Digital Transformation has become a common concept. No one would challenge the idea that Digital transformation is imperative for all businesses, from small to large.

Impressive statistics highlight this massive adoption :

  • 85% of enterprise decision-makers believe they only have 2 years to integrate digital technologies before falling behind competitors.
  • 89% of organizations have adopted or have planned to adopt a digital-first strategy plan.
  • 27% of executives rate digital transformation as a matter of survival…
  • … while only 17% of US businesses and 9% of European businesses consider their digital technology as advanced.

With this apparent convergence in focus, one could believe that Digital Transformation is quickly transforming what businesses look like. However, this is not quite the case. The hard truth is that the CEOs of half of large, US-based companies believe that less than 50% of their strategy is successfully implemented.

The driving force behind this situation is a whole set of pitfalls. We can learn from these experiences in order to define what could be the winning strategy.

Vision : the high-levelview challenge

  • Unclear vision of the Digital Strategy:
    35% of executives acknowledge that lacking a clear transformation strategy is a major roadblock to achieving its full digital potential. In the absence of such a vision, many companies adopt the « let 100 flowers bloom » philosophy, leading to the inefficient spread of energy and resources.

Keeping digital strategy  and enterprise strategy apart is one of the frequently observed reasons for this situation.

  • Going it alone:
    Many companies adopt an old-style business approach, where things are kept unshared and closed-off. Indeed, 79% of top performers are more likely to be involved in a digital ecosystem. Failing to engage with an ecosystem of partners is a significant limit to acceleration and access to innovation, talent and technologies.
  • Difficulties in taking the right actions and decisions:
    Achieving financial goals in a given time span of time to satisfy boards and shareholders is rarely done without stress and pressure. Too often, this performance-race means taking counter-productive actions and decisions, favoring short-term instead of long-term rewards and aspirations.

Planning: difficulties articulating the right sequence

  • The digital silo:
    Labs and accelerators are great when it comes to innovation and speed but how many POCs really scale-up and inject transformation into organizations, despite absorbing resources and management attention?
  • Disconnecting from company financial targets:
    Like any investment, Digital Transformation needs to build confidence and gain payback. Forgetting to include quick-wins in your roadmap is likely to cause your transformation to run out of fuel.
  • Understating the talent dimension:
    Deploying and running digital transformation requires taking on new talents and to develop the existing workforce. Underestimating that dimension will considerably slow down transformation and potentially stop it. 49% of CMOs recognize a talent deficiency in their organization.
  • Trading technology for experience:
    Integrating a disruptive technology (chatbot, IOT, block-chain) will not increase value as expected unless a thorough upstream reflection on customer needs and aspirations is carried out.

Execution: even more crucial in the digital world

  • Resistance to change:
    43% of the CIOs of large corporations observe resistance to change as the main roadblock to a successful Digital Transformation. Underestimating the necessity for change management is a common trap into which many corporations fall.
  • Lack of pace:
    Investment planning in the digital world does not follow traditional risk-avoiding logic. Speed is a core component of the success equation, especially in the customer-facing areas. This being said, only 4% of major US businesses achieved 50% of their digital investment in under one year, with the majority taking two to three years to achieve this level.
  • Lack of continuity:
    Despite the need for pace in conducting Digital Transformation, it will not happen overnight. The variety of topics involved, the acceptance of failure, the constant need to adapt and the ecosystem fluctuations make it almost impossible to pursue a plan. Leaders need to balance the continuity of their company’s vision with staying flexible enough to be able to adapt to short-term hazards.

Business Model

  • Convergence between evolving customer readiness, technological evolutions and data abundance is paving the way for a dramatic shift in business models.
    One of IT industry most impressive moves is the transition from a licensed software model to a completely cloud-based one; allowing companies to carve out a permanent pace in the changing industry.
    The business model you are operating on today won’t probably exist tomorrow

Customer Journey

Connect with your customers to unveil their needs and address their pain points. Design a new way to bring them value and address these needs. Create a new experience : easy, efficient, memorable.
Sephora, one of the top French perfume retailers, has outperformed competition by adopting mobile as a key part of a their customer journey:  from booking a service with a Sephora assistant to providing location-based mobile messaging or mobile exclusives and early access to events.
Your customer journey will make or brake the future of your business.

Data

  • Data is one of your key business assets. Used for customer acquisition, operations monitoring, service & delivery, experience improvement or as an asset to monetize, your data requires a strategic approach.
  • Implementing Data Management strategy will enable you constantly improve and grow your data and its use.
  • APIs, web services and ETLs enable greater integration and data use maximisation. Integration platforms like Mulesoft enable a seamless use of your data, enabling to deploy your strategy.
  • Thanks to its analytic platform, Shell has been able to run predictive models and detect machine downtime . Indeed, 72% of small businesses invest in big data solutions to improve their business operations.
    Tomorrow’s winners will be the players that crack data exploitation.

People & Culture

  • Your employees are a key dimension of your organization’s transformation. In fact, 75% of change initiatives will fail due to a lack of digital culture. Turn your employees into key transformation agents and they become the ambassadors of this change.
    Considered as partners, Starbuck’s employees are engaged in promoting the brand through social media.
    Your greatest challenge is probably to help your team thrive in the future you envision

Innovation

  • Serving your customers in a differentiating way and introducing new technologies and paradigms in your offers, business models and experiences will help drive your digital transformation.
  • “The BTU protocol” introduces blockchain to their customers, providing them with more visibility regarding hotel availability in order to balance-out the hospitality market. Prepare your business for innovation and know that it can be approached from different angles: customers, technology or adjacent sectors.
  • True innovation is created at the crossroads between what is desirable, what is feasible and what is possible. Make sure your innovation innovation  is always balancing market need, technical sustainability and sound business model.
  • Don’t forget that 70 to 90% of innovations fail. Make sure that you have the rights KPIs to measure success as early as possible.

Organization

  • New ways of serving your customers implies finding new ways to organise your strategy.
  • Being able to align your organization with customer promises is paramount to yielding significant performance improvements which stand the test of time.
  • To address its digital transformation, La Poste has transformed its entire organization process to diversify and digitalize its services such as banking.

Your transformation will succeed if you are able to re-align all components of your organization.

Marketing

  • The 4th industrial revolution has changed everything about the way businesses relate to their customers. From content to channels, from awareness to advocacy. Digital Transformation leaves no stone unturned as traditional marketing levers are giving way to customer experiences.
  • When based on consistent purpose, values and practices, the way in which companies tell their story is one of the key components of their customer’s experience.

Our key recommandations

Secure the basics:  Embracing new complex business challenges is great for keeping a dynamic and competitive organization. However, one has to make sure that the technological foundations are strong enough to support these additional dimensions (robust data structure, data organisation, technical architecture enabling migration and integration).

Ensure quick wins:  Digital achievers are driven by rapid and diverse experimentations. Providing a structure with regular milestones and quick wins will build momentum for the organization. Quick-win sequencing is strategic as it highlights rapid business improvements and provides clear criteria to measure the potential payoff of a multi-dimensioned transformation initiative.

Identify KPI to measure success:  Pre-identified, relevant and easily measurable indicators help measure what matters. Good KPI definition is a strategic step to sharpen expected business outcomes and is deeply linked to quick wins.

Review all of your processes: Digitally transforming your organization requires a reconsideration of every internal and external process. Tomorrow, it is predicted that almost every employee will be customer-facing. From organizing your supply chain, to addressing your client or working collaboratively with your teams, your business processes will need to be reconsidered to be aligned with your actions.

Change your team’s mindset: Digital transformation requires changing your management plan to address company culture as much as technology. Constantly onboarding and supporting your people with training and communication of the company mindset is key for your success.

Create your own digital agenda: While the re-alignment of new investment in technology and of business models takes time, and while this process is different for each company, strategy and execution can not be tackled separately. A well though-out digital agenda will allow for your company to define specific and personalized milestones to achieve its transformation.

Remain flexible: As a team leader, your capacity to reach your objectives is a priority. Sometimes, it may be impacted by an unplanned event in your team’s workload or project timeline. Thus, as a digital achiever, your digital agenda must be flexible enough to adapt in an unsteady environment.

Get customer data right

There’s no doubt that digital transformation is a complex game. So many options and technologies multiply the possibility of losing track of your digital transformation agenda.

In this labyrinth of possibilities, your only guide will be your ability to develop a a robust core-data architecture that will collect and protect your core data whilst enabling other systems to connect to and use it.

Although it is not the only data of strategic value to most businesses, Customer Data is universally critical and a key building block of any transformation in today’s climate. So you’d better get it right.

We deeply believe in a robust CRM platform like Salesforce. A cloud-based, CRM application is a sure play to kick-start your transformation. From boosting your business actions, to providing a 360° vision of your clients or allowing for cohesive customer journeys as well as unique service and marketing journeys, Salesforce brings together a wide panel of business applications to incorporate, analyze, and coordinate your client data.

Whatever your technology belief is, make sure to get the core right.

In a nutshell

  • Have a digital agenda supporting your vision : know where you are heading and share your vision but remain flexible.
  • Consider the organisational and cultural dimension of the changes you are implementing as being the main factor that will make or break your strategy
  • Keep the momentum. Ensure quick wins, track your actions, keep your team focused on achieving common goals.
  • Hunt in packs : having an ecosystem of partners will help you go faster, further, more safely.
  • Care for your data. Ensure you have a data strategy. Nest your most valuable data – customer data – in a state-of-the-art CRM such as Salesforce
  • Be disruptive, your customers are ready for change.
  • Optimise everywhere you can, your customers also welcome smaller improvements.
Written by: Albert Dupouy

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