Leading technology consulting firms are urging businesses to kick-start a “digital transformation” or risk being crushed by their competitors. Accenture tells clients to “create a comprehensive digital strategy that leads to new architectures, new services and new platforms.” At the same time, PriceWaterhouseCoopers instructs businesses to “understand the value of technology and to weave it into the fabric of their organizations.”
In some cases, companies let their fears of new technology keep them from pushing forward into creating better customer experiences. For example, many companies fail to fully execute the power of cloud computing, which is the foundational technology for offering a multi-channel experience and for offering customers anytime access to their data. Businesses fail to push forward with the cloud because they have fears about security, even though the most effective virtualization security products can easily address most concerns.
In spite of these fears, digital transformation sounds like an intelligent and sensible step forward. After all, just as human society transformed from an agrarian system into an industrial system, it can be argued that society is transitioning right now from an industrial system to a digital system. Thankfully, MIT Sloan Management Review has teamed with Capgemini Consulting to give companies some direction for starting the digital transformation. Their manifesto, called “Embracing Digital Technology: A New Strategic Imperative,” suggests three frontiers businesses should prioritize.
Improved Customer Engagement and Customer Experiences
Businesses should start the digital transformation by figuring out how to leverage technology to create a great customer experience. Technology can change customer engagement and customer experience in the following ways:
- Multi-channel customer services. Both business customers and consumers want to interact with their favorite companies on the Web, through online chat, over the phone, over email and through social media. Technology including cloud call centers and social media management platforms can provide multi-channel engagement out of the box.
- Anytime, anywhere access. In today’s business world, 24/7-availability is non-negotiable. In addition to providing around-the-clock customer service, companies have to make sure their
- websites function at all times. Managed services can offer improved uptime and better business continuity.
- Personalized engagement. CRM technology lets any customer service agent see a customer’s purchase history from the moment that a conversation begins. Companies that have no comprehensive CRM solution in place will be left behind.
Efficient Operations and Workflows
Writing for Forbes, former KPMG senior manager Greg Marks suggests starting with these five areas to deploy technology that could improve company workflows:
- Handle Web inquiries. Decide how customers ask questions or make mention of the company online, whether through online forms or social media mentions. Then, automate a workflow to handle each type of inquiry.
- Distribute leads. Hopefully, sales staff are no longer cold-calling people, and marketing automation software is automatically nurturing leads. Let the same automation software distribute leads to the most qualified people.
- Overdue invoices. Automate the process of sending messages to clients who haven’t paid, copying not only the accounting staff but also the salesperson in charge of the account.
- Manage inventory. No business should try to manage inventory manually. Take advantage of barcodes and just-in-time ordering by deploying automated inventory management.
- Proposal and quota follow-up. Create reminders for following up with proposals and create alerts if sales from particular clients are lagging behind previous years’ levels.
New Business Models or Lines of Business
Starbucks Chief digital officer Adam Brotman, back in 2009, developed a system that would allow Starbucks customers to use mobile payments to purchase their lattes. Now, the company processes more than 3 million mobile payments per week, and the initiative has reduced the time Starbucks customers spend in line by a total of 900,000 hours. When Brotman came on board in 2009, Starbucks had a stock price of $8 per share. By 2013, the company’s stock price had shot up to $73 per share thanks to the company’s new mobile business model.