If marketers and their employers care about the future prosperity of their companies, then the intersection of customers and digital is where they need to be: in other words, digital transformation.
The latest insight from US research group, Altimeter, provides both a line in the sand and a high level “how to” guide for companies willing to embrace digital transformation.
But amid the dense documentation, it highlights two especially compelling ideas for marketers and communications professionals vis-à-vis their responsibility for customers. These are:
- Asking the question: “What would my digital customer do?”
- Digital transformation offers to deliver the original promise of social media, in which businesses really talk to people and become more human as a result.
But as Altimeter principal analyst, Brian Solis, explained in the webinar accompanying the research launch, this is all easier said than done:
He said: “In an era of Digital Darwinism…customer experience is often elusive. Digital Transformation is about how businesses improve and create value throughout the lifecycle and it’s a continuous journey; learning about the relationship between technology and customer behaviour to earn relevance.”
Instilling in an organisation the concept of “Digital First” is important where digital is fundamental to its evolving interaction with customers, Solis added.
The Digital Transformation catalysts
But what compels companies to see Digital Transformation as a way to remain competitive and transform in the eyes of the customer?
While the advent of social media roles within companies has been about recognising the potential value of new technologies to marketing communications, Solis asserts that this has led to social media silos. Despite being established to serve customers better, social media functions have become “largely unfamiliar with the entire customer journey”.
And so, what it takes is people passionate about change, technology and customers to jump on the so-called “Wheel of Disruption” (slide 14 in Altimeter’s report) which combines social with real-time and mobile marketing to keep up with “more nimble and informed customers”.
The trick is not seeing social and mobile as “bolt-ons” to existing customer strategies but as catalysts for entire enterprises to transform their digital capability, build long term customer relationship and transform the customer experience.
As Solis says: “Customers don’t see a department – they see one brand. Digital strategists trying to optimise the entire customer journey and deliver real results are the essence of digital transformation.”
Getting organisation-wide buy-in to this is another matter: obstacles such as politics, egos, self-preservation, lack of understanding and expertise and different ways of engaging with customers are very real inhibitors.
However, Solis deems the Digital Transformation movement as so important that such roadblocks have to be overcome for the sake of the organisation. He cites the role of the “change agents” within companies who have a vision of what’s possible and are willing to take risks to help the enterprise become “more meaningful to a different type of customer – the digital customer”. With buy-in from senior-level executive sponsors who have been persuaded of the value in digital transformation, you’re on your way.
And the ultimate benefits of Digital Transformation?
- Updated company vision
- Thriving culture of innovation
- Improved customer journey
- Greater competitive advantage
- Increased internal collaboration
- More empowered workforce
- Improved efficiency
- Deeper data analysis
- Increased customer conversion and loyalty
And, for determined strategists keen to see digital transformation take hold in their organisations, Altimeter has produced a handy checklist free of charge.
While still a fledgeling movement Digital Tranformation – so Altimeter estimates – is “quickly becoming a priority for many leading organisations.”