We have seen how the world has transformed through the power of technology and businesses all over have either switched to the digital economy or are in the process of doing so. But the truth is, not every company gets it right. It isn’t just about creating an online website, an e-store, social media channels, CRM, ERP, YouTube and all that fancy stuff. It is more about creating pathways for your customers to interact with your brand, it is about helping all your internal departments have all kinds of information they need, to provide quality products and services and at the end of the day, for your company to make a tidy profit.
Many companies face hurdles when they transition into a digital business. The most common issue they face is the speed of change and the transformation this requires. Only when they embark on the journey of digitization do companies realize that a successful end result largely depends on the ability to deploy complex sub-strategies simultaneously. Many companies may have one or two successful cases where they have deployed a single component of the digital ecosystem successfully, let’s say for example, a CRM or an online e-store, but most companies are still very silo-oriented and will find it extremely challenging to convert all their digitization goals into successes. The ultimate challenge is pulling all those initiatives and sub-strategies together into one integrated machine and becoming even more customer-centric.
You need two extremely important things to deliver rapid results that are tangible and cost effective. A focused plan and talent to execute it. Creating and setting the plan in motion are dependent on a two pronged approach. For one, a long term strategy of visualizing what the company should be like in ten or twenty years. This should be coupled with a person or a group of talented and capable people who can realize this vision. In many cases, companies have the talent but they might be hidden somewhere and you need to find them and give them all the tools, including the trust and the confidence to get the job done. In order to build your talent, you may need to actively fill the gaps by looking for suitable people outside your company.
All that is a good start you might ask; but what is or are the main components to a successful digital transformation strategy? I can’t say this with all certainty but I can attempt to educate you with all humility and based on my limited experience, on what I think is a great way to start. Companies in the digital world need three things to engage with their customers digitally.
First, is access to data. Being data driven or data focused is a crucial and almost compulsory element to becoming successful in the digital economy. Companies need to constantly look into all kinds of data, be it within their CRM or e-CRM, social media platforms including social care and beyond. They need to properly understand customer behavior and other information about its customers. How can we learn more from customer interactions in order to serve them better?
Next, is a plan to convert all that data or information or insight that will help us design a strategy to effectively communicate with our customers. What should be our approach to our customers? Should we adopt an entirely content driven strategy or apply another approach. How should we create engagement with our customers so that they buy from us at the end of the day?
Finally, what is the delivery mechanism for this initiative? Should we communicate solely via social media and other digital outlets like PPC, programmatic advertising, landing pages and the like or should we consider using some form of traditional media? How can we create a continuous improvement process to constantly and consistently serve our customers? What are the KPIs and how are we going to measure them?
The problem is that for the last five or six decades, most companies have strongly been product driven and for the new digital ecosystem to not only work but thrive, they need to switch to an end-to-end customer driven approach. One key thing to get this done successfully is to have or create the talent and capability within your team. The team would have to successfully fill the gaps wherever applicable and ensure that these three phases of a company’s digital transformation journey overlap and integrate in a way that provides the company a scalable, flexible and cost effective way of managing its business internally. This journey would also have to give the company’s customers an easy, integrated, omni-channel approach to enjoying engagement with the brand in ways we haven’t seen the in past.
Barry Rodrigues is Head of Marketing & Product Development at Future Communications and an associate advisor with the International Advisors Group in Kuwait. He has worked for industry leaders like Agility and National Aviation Services in various marketing capacities in addition to delivering marketing projects for the banking, hospitality and petrochemical verticals. For comments or questions, please email Barry [email protected].