It is all about the customer. HBR recently published its December 2016 study on Digital Transformation and found that 40% of the executives surveyed listed “Create an Exceptional Experience” as the number one priority for their digital transformations. And another 28% listed it as the number two reason – that means 68% (more than two-thirds of all surveyed executives) agree that digital provides the opportunity to change the game in customer experience.
By comparison, the next highest reason listed is operational efficiency (24%), and the third highest rated reason is completing the solutions landscape with services and/or moving to a subscription based model (23%). While the last two categories are important, the numbers show -- and clients tell me -- the highest priority is to use digital to innovate the customer experience.
What is the digital advantage for experience? The digital company has several capabilities that provide a better platform for innovation and a faster time to market. Let’s look at a project and compare the effort and results for a digital leader (top 25% digital maturity) and a digital laggard (bottom 25% digital maturity).
The digital advantage is clear in the quality of the solution, time to market, ease of integration, analytical measurement and ability to pivot.
If we step back and look at this in light of several projects that are running, the Digital Leaders start to get an insurmountable advantage. Their ability to integrate is fast, their ability to fail fast and learn is built in and their ability to know where the friction points are for solution targeting drives the process. They can run more innovation projects and deliver them faster with the same resources and less expense. The Digital Laggard will have some project successes, however their timeline is longer (they have to make an analog infrastructure work for data integration), there is more financial rigor for project launch (delays starting and slow tollgate reviews), and waterfall vs the muscle memory for agile movement prevents easy pivoting, slows delivery and can soften the solution success.
This example touches on some of the Digital Agility characteristics:
While not true in every case, both of these companies could have a digital strategy and both could be sponsored at the highest level making a high level digital DIY assessment less valuable. More detailed criteria is needed to review the organization and really understand the roadmap by observing the actual customer experience. Put another way, in order for a digital assessment be valuable to the organization, it has to cover all three areas: Strategy & Culture, Digital Capability Maturity, and Digital Customer Experience.
So, what can the Digital Laggard do to catch up? While the pressure is great to be digital, not everything can be done at once. This kind of company has to take steps that yield short term wins while also building for the future. In some cases, they are delivering a less than optimal experience today at a higher cost. An honest look at the capabilities, culture and customer experience can help to determine what projects can bear fruit quickly, to help set up the right roadmap for becoming a digital leader.
And what can the Digital Leader do to build on their advantage? Optimize capabilities and projects for success. Continually assess for changes in customer needs and update for low hanging fruit. Look at the overall portfolio through the lens of the digital company of the future in order to ensure you are on the right path. Ensure you’ve backed the right projects in the best order, and test that the methodology in place will yield exceptional customer experiences.