Digital Transformation Advisor Lessons and Insights

Executives know that digital enablement is required to lower operational costs, improve staff productivity, streamline business processes, better engage customers and create new value.

But that doesn't make it easy.

The FEI Financial Leadership Summit reported that 78% of digitized transformation initiatives fail to achieve their objectives. And of the 22% which succeeded, on average, companies achieve about 10% of their overall objectives. Uh.

That's why getting expert advice is helpful.

A digital transformation advisor can spend his or her career designing, implementing and improving digitization programs and business results.

But what exactly do they do? Or what should they do to drive the maximum impact in the least time?

To answer these questions, we gathered lessons and best practices from several Johnny Grow digital transformation advisors.

They provided clear evidence that the biggest results are created from a short list of actions.

So, before you consider a digital journey, consider the below advice from a group of seasoned experts.

How to Get Started

Digitization can be created from any technology that connects people and machines with each other or with information.

Digital transformation goes a step further. It's more of a reinvention strategy that figures out how to leverage digital technologies and channels to better engage customers, increase staff productivity, and improve products or services. It often aligns with partners or ecosystems to create new or better ways for customers to acquire, consume, use, experience or benefit from products or services.

But how do you get started?

The experts shared four use cases that drive significant and sustained financial impact and company growth.

Digital Transformation Use Cases

Grow Customer Value

Online tools and channels can be used to increase customer communication, engagement, and relationships. That directly translates to increased customer acquisitions, share and retention.

Your customers choose to communicate on digital channels. So, if you want to communicate with them, you are best advised to meet them where they reside.

It's simple logic really. If one brand engages me on one of my preferred channels, and another brand doesn't, guess who I am more likely to do business with?

Becoming digital means marketing and sales occur in the digital channels customers use to evaluate and buy products and services. It means delivering service and support after the sale in those same channels.

But here's the thing. Digital is essential, but not sufficient to win and retain customers. Pretty much every company is going through a digitized transformation. So, if you want to outperform your competitors, and better engage, acquire, grow and retain customers, consider the actions that deliver differentiation.

  • Extract data from every customer interaction and centrally manage it in a 360-degree customer view.
  • Harvest and mine the data to deliver relevant, personalized and contextual engagement. Your goal is to create hyper personalization.
  • Transform data into buyer insights and customer intelligence. Use these insights to predict customer behaviors, stay a step ahead of the buyer journey, and deliver differentiated customer experiences.
  • Make customer data actionable at every channel and touchpoint throughout the customer lifecycle. Your goal is to make every interaction a prescribed interaction with a predicted result.
  • Define enterprise-wide online engagement that aligns with the customer journey. Customer engagement must be seamless and consistent across departmental boundaries.
  • None of this is adopting technology for technology's sake. It's all about achieving results. So, ensure that your vision and actions translate into measurable business outcomes. The below vision map is an illustrative example of how this can occur.
Digital Transformation Vision Map

Increase Staff Productivity

For most companies, labor is the biggest expense. Digital tools offer the biggest savings.

Digitization will improve the employee experience, give staff more rewarding tools, and automate business processes. That last item is particularly powerful.

That's because automation tools decrease labor consumption, increase employee productivity, enable agility, improve consistency, and accelerate results. They even improve data quality, which then improves information reporting.

They allow companies to scale operations without scaling resources.

But the digital transformation advisor experts provide a word of caution.

Before you apply digital tools to automate business processes, you have to first simplify and streamline those processes.

Business Process Design

Don't be tempted to cement your AS-IS processes with new technologies.

When done right, your improved processes will root out excess cost, create consistency, facilitate guided execution and support continuous incremental improvements.

These digitized processes not only deliver repeatable outcomes and quality results, they also create confidence and trust among staff. Highly efficient, repeatable and automated processes become your intellectual property.

The experts also advise that you can't achieve transformation without incurring change. However, for many companies, embracing change is not the norm and can be a difficult journey.

Digitization requires a concerted effort to facilitate both people and technologies.

A change management program is your best tool to help your people. This type of program helps shift staff from a current state to a defined future state. It mitigates productivity loss during the transition, creates an environment for sustained change and realizes the benefits of change more quickly.

Change Management Process

Improve Products and Services

Digital tools and technologies can accelerate the process of creating or improving products or services. Or going a step further, you can create digital products and services.

Sometimes the best product isn't a product. But instead a better way for customers to consume, use or benefit from a product.

It's this concept that made software-as-a-service a market category that displaced the massive on-premise software categories. The introduction of SaaS lowered up front acquisition cost in favor of a pay as you go model and made software easier to acquire and faster to deploy. The concept has since evolved to countless as-a-service solutions.

Another method to improve how customers can acquire products is bundling. For example, consider telecom providers that put your telephone, cable and Internet into a single plan for convenience and cost savings.

Or on the flip side, you can separate products to create new value. This might permit customers to acquire only what they want. Think of how Apple created iTunes so customers could purchase just the song they wanted without having to buy the whole album.

Or for a different type of example consider Ally's rise in the banking industry. Ally is a bank with no branches. So, it used an innovative mobile app and pricing model to become the highest growth lending bank in the U.S.

Another example that uses a combination of convenience and devices is an app that makes furniture easier to acquire. Wayfair's mobile app, called WayfairView, uses augmented reality to let shoppers download a product image to their smartphone.

They can then point to the desired placement location in their home, see a 3D representation of the furniture in that location, and walk toward and around the superimposed furniture. It allows them to see how the furniture looks from various distances and angles, all on the smartphone screen. The app provides additional convenience as consumers don't have to get out a tape measure to determine if the furniture will fit. If the consumer likes what she sees, she taps a button to purchase the item online.

There are several techniques to identify what digital products, services or aids will be enthusiastically embraced by customers. For example, a Voice of the Customer program can be automated to periodically survey or acquire feedback from customers.

Harvesting online data for white space mapping is another method to surface unmet customer needs. The experts advise that whatever method you apply, make sure it's designed to solve for the customer, not promote an idea.

Creating new sources of customer value by creating new digital assets, products, services and experiences increases operational agility and simultaneously creates competitive advantages.


Reinvent Company Value

A McKinsey research survey found that more than three-quarters of executives say the strategic intent behind their digital programs is to either build competitive advantage in an existing business or to create new business by tapping into new revenue streams.

Here are some suggestions if you desire to grow the existing business model.

  • The digital transformation advisor experts suggest that a logical starting point is to digitize manual processes. That may include streamlining core work streams through process re-engineering, automation, and self-service.
  • That may be then be followed by automating end-to-end business processes. This goal is usually to provide frictionless and accelerated experiences to entire ecosystems of customers, employees, partners, or suppliers.
  • A related example is using workflow tools to get the right information to the right person at the right time. Companies collect vast amounts of data. However, it often languishes in disintegrated data siloes. The company that can apply that data to improve an employee action, manager decision, customer transaction or customer experience will create a competitive advantage.

The experts say that achieving these types of business model improvements is significantly aided by adopting a modern operating model that promotes rapid experimentation using digital technologies and Agile principles.

Agile Sprint

Expanding your business model may begin with digital reinvention thinking. You want to re-imagine how an organization innovates, operates and engages with its customers, employees and ecosystems using emerging technologies.

You want to identify and pursue new sources of customer value, monetize new digital solutions, and even reinvent the business model to achieve competitive differentiation or industry disruption.

Here are some examples.

  • You can use digital technologies to create entirely new digital products, services, revenue streams and Go-to-Market models.
  • You can engage in strategic alliances and online ecosystems to better serve customers, fill white space and build new revenue streams.
  • You can create your own ecosystem by starting with a technology platform and facilitating partners, customers and others to leverage and build upon that platform.
  • You can create new distribution channels. This may combine your products or services with other online services or digital ecosystems to reach new audiences and markets.

If you are unsure how to identify the best options, consider a one-day digital transformation workshop.

A Digital Transformation Advisor Can Help

The market is shifting, your customers are evolving, and product and service commoditization is accelerating. You need to transform how you do business to stay relevant and competitive.

Fortunately, there are partners that can help.

A digital transformation coach or advisor should have the technology skills to quickly assemble the tools that accelerate business value. He or she should have the experience to understand the market valuation of company business models.

Most of all, your digital transformation advisor should be the catalyst to solidify clear goals, guide relentless execution, measure progress in real-time, and intervene with course corrections when necessary.