Seven essential digital transformation competencies
We’ve all heard the hype around digital transformation: it seems everyone wants to talk about it. But just because there’s a lot of hype doesn’t mean it’s not important—or that you can ignore it.
- Two-thirds of businesses recognize their company must digitize in order to stay competitive.
- IDC forecasts that worldwide spending on technologies and services that enable digital transformation will reach $1.97 trillion in 2022.
- But 70% of all digital transformation initiatives do not reach their goals.
That’s a pretty wide gap to bridge in a very short time. So, what will it take to actually transform your organization to thrive in this digital, customer-led era? And where should you begin?
Stop talking about digital transformation and start doing it
To deliver the digital experiences that customers love and drive sustainable business success, we believe you need seven organizational competencies. By mastering each of these seven competencies you will move beyond the buzzwords and one-off tactics—and be able to deliver connected digital experiences that drive value.
Insight: Understanding your customer in the context of your business
To create digital experiences that people love, you must first gain insight into the people you hope to engage and serve. This is the very core of becoming a customer-centric organization. And it requires that you have a real and present understanding of your customers, including their journey, goals and motivations.
Insight starts with direct customer research, but it shouldn’t end there. A well-crafted voice of the customer program will keep insights flowing into your organization on an ongoing basis to improve product and service design and customer support. As part of this research, you need to continuously understand the market landscape and trends influencing your industry, as well as insights from your own employees.
Everence, a faith-based, member-owned financial services organization, knew it needed to transform around digital. The customer research PK conducted as part of the Everence digital experience strategy unearthed a better understanding of the new customer segments and markets that Everence needs to attract and retain. And personas and journey maps established the groundwork for building and growing those relationships across the spectrum of BFSI solutions Everence offers.
Our research also assessed the rapidly changing competitive landscape, as fintech services like Apple Pay and Venmo are disrupting financial services, especially for the digital-savvy millennials whose brand loyalties are in constant flux. The Everence team collaborated with frontline customer service employees to discover what changes would have the most impact. And they got buy-in and commitment from the CEO on down to uplevel the organization’s digital experience programs.
Ask yourself: How do you know what works well and where the pain points are? Where are people talking about us and what are they saying? What needs to happen for customers to trust your organization and become loyal members of your tribe?
Vision: Aligning to a “north star”
Armed with a better understanding of your customers and business opportunities, you are ready for the next step of digital transformation: a shared vision for the future. This means bringing peers and stakeholders together to agree on a north star that aligns digital with your business goals and customer needs. What does an ideal experience look like—for your customers and your delivery teams? Can you imagine an experience that sets you apart from your competitors? Will the principles of that experience deliver on your brand promise? With the north star as your guide, you can align the teams that will prioritize and map initiatives needed to support those experiences.
To infuse this vision into your organization’s DNA, you need a provocative visualization that brings it to life in a tangible, memorable way. PK VP of Experience Design Colin O’Neill says selling your digital experience strategy starts with telling a story. “To deliver a strategy that can transform an organization, you need to connect and demand attention,” Colin says. “Once the strategy is created it’s natural to feel that everyone will immediately see the value and work to execute it. But creating a strategy and communicating it effectively are two different things.”
Ask yourself: What will it feel like to work with your company in the future? What do you want customers, competitors, shareholders and employees to say about your company three to five years from today? How will your vision set everyone in motion and capture the attention of the market?
Culture: Building on a foundation of shared values
Culture isn’t just about ping-pong tables and kombucha kegs. The kind of organizational culture that enables digital transformation goes much deeper than that. You need high-performing, connected and informed teams who are empowered to transcend silos, own all aspects of the digital experience and build collaborative relationships, with the freedom to experiment with low risk.
Peter Drucker famously said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” But this does not mean that culture is more important than strategy. It means a strategy that does not respect, include or build from the shared values of its culture will not drive the strategic outcomes it expects.
Discovering what motivates teams to master new skills, work with autonomy and believe in a purpose that connects them to delivering value is crucial to sustainable success.
Ask yourself: How do these values frame excellence within your organization? What are the measures of a thriving culture? When do you recognize your teams’ efforts when they’re living up to these values?
Content: Connecting your brand story to customer experience
According to Forrester’s Q3 2019 Global Marketing Content Credibility study:
- 82% of B2B buyers want sales reps to have relevant examples or case studies to share with them.
- 79% of B2B buyers want sales reps to be knowledgeable about their company’s unique point of view and thought leadership.
- 78% of B2B buyers say it’s important for sales reps to continue the conversation started with the company’s marketing messages and content.
Content is a core element of your online customer experience—and when done well it enables you to build and measure meaningful business impact. To do this you need a cohesive plan for creating, publishing and governing your organization’s content.
Building on insights and a shared vision, a successful content strategy defines how each audience connects and engages with what makes your business unique. Content must be relevant to each audience type and focus on making each step of their experience effective, easy and enjoyable. That means creating clear, simple content that enhances, rather than impedes, the experience.
When BMC Software experienced explosive growth, they realized that they had too many customer personas to effectively inform the creation of content and experiences. With PK’s help, they were able to distill over 30 varieties of existing target customers into two primary mindsets, which drove decisions on website taxonomy and information architecture. This organization allowed for BMC to design a content model to ensure that they create the right content to answer customers’ questions and help them make decisions throughout their journey.
Technology: Building an integrated experience ecosystem
“Direct digital transformation (DX) investment is growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.5% from 2020 to 2023 and is expected to approach $7.1 trillion as companies build on existing strategies and investments, becoming digital-at-scale future enterprises.”
The need or desire for new technology is often the catalyst for digital transformation—and it provides the essential infrastructure that enables it. From content management systems to customer data platforms to marketing automation to ERPs, technology powers virtually every aspect of customer experience. But technology on its own can’t deliver the kind of digital experience that wins in the age of the customer—or transform your business. That’s why your business goals and digital strategy should inform your technology investments, not the other way around.
PK VP of Digital Experience Alliances Brian Payne says you need to look at your organization’s technology capabilities in the context of customer experience and the people and processes that support it. “Clearly selecting the right technology matters, especially for deployments with complex requirements and diverse stakeholder considerations,” Brian says. “But keep in mind that your success will ultimately depend on the upfront planning and implementation—not the platform itself.”
An auto insurance company that serves more than 16 million customers approached PK to design an app that would offer immediate roadside assistance to policyholders. We looked at the challenge from a customer experience lens, using conceptual designs, storyboards and wireframes, user and usability testing and a high-fidelity prototype. The resulting app streamlines the process of requesting roadside help through location-based services and ride-hailing functionality while providing real-time updates on progress. For a moment as stressful as requesting roadside assistance, offering a simple and intuitive solution allows customers to have the best possible experience when it matters.
Execution: Doing the right things, in the right way
“Digital operational excellence (DOX) is a critical imperative in digital transformation, replacing traditional thinking around organization efficiency.”
Having a customer-focused digital strategy with the content and technology to support it gives you a solid foundation for digital transformation. But connection is everything. To deliver on the story and vision your brand promises to the marketplace, you need to have the right people, with the right skills, and the right operational processes in place, including:
- An established process for the ongoing prioritization and execution of digital projects.
- Written governance policies and plans with buy-in from your teams.
- Quality assurance processes that test for ideal and worst-case scenarios.
You also need established project and vendor management capabilities and a staffing plan for digital roles and vendors, with written job descriptions that cover required digital capabilities.
When a large managed care consortium needed to consolidate their 35 regional websites and apps on multiple CMS and experience platforms, they followed the right steps to ensure success. After defining their digital and enterprise technology strategies, they put together a governance process: a 135-point intensive framework for analyzing digital marketing capabilities and aligning technology strategy. These steps allowed the organization to launch their new website at record speed across all states and regional markets they participate in.
Optimization: Using data to continuously improve
Intelligence and analytics bring your digital experience strategy full circle. By measuring and optimizing the right customer experience and business performance metrics you can build value and improve outcomes. Unlike conversion rate optimization, which focuses on maximizing specific transactions, customer experience-focused intelligence and analytics are part of a longer-term lifecycle of strategic testing and insight. And it’s the best way to increase customer lifetime value.
Using intelligence and analytics is not for pages, but for people. It allows you to validate your intuition and research and see how your design actually works with a real audience. And it’s a way to stay in touch with the nuances of how customers are interacting with your brand, reduce friction and reveal the moments that matter.
That is exactly what AARP has done in order to offer a better experience to their users. With a mission of empowering people to choose how they live as they age, AARP approached PK to help them launch a program called Staying Sharp, offering information and activities on how to improve brain health. Having robust analytics in place is key to converting customer data into actionable insights, and the customer data platform that PK built allows AARP to better personalize content for their customers through data capture, analysis and continual optimization.
Change is hard, but getting started is easy
Understanding these new capabilities—and the gaps and barriers that stand between you and digital transformation—is the first step to making real change happen. Many businesses, of course, recognize these gaps. The lack of training in new digital skills, missing internal roles, and organizational inability to adapt are routinely cited as key obstacles to digital-led transformation.
If you’re ready to disrupt the status quo—and shift your organization’s focus from “the way we’ve always done it” to aligning teams on the power of digital and the customer experience—download The art and science of customer experiences and start laying the groundwork for digital transformation in your organization.
About the author
Andrew McLaughlin serves as VP of operations at PK and has worked in nearly every corner of the business, including senior leadership roles in account and project management, strategy and consulting on client governance. He lives at the critical intersection of digital and business, and his mission is to ensure that PK enables its customers to take control of their digital future and build the connected capabilities required for sustainable digital success.Tags: Content Strategy, Digital Experience, Digital Transformation, Strategy