Those of you have been following my blog over the last few months will know that I have been going on at length about CIO’s and IT leaders still getting to grips with DevOps and containers and why it is important for digital transformation. Some CIO’s don’t yet believe that they should get involved as it is something that is either not mature enough or is already being handled by the infrastructure teams. There is a lot of confusion in this area, so I thought that this blog should try and set out some of the competitive drivers for digital services, which will help on your digital journey regardless if you are just starting or are further down the road.
Tip 1- Know who you are and where you want to get to!:
All too often we meet clients that think that digital transformation is about “cloud first” or DevOps or writing a mobile App. Well it might be all three but in practice you need to answer a more fundamental question, which is why are we doing this and is it going to improve our bottom line? All too often going digital is seen as a technology solution when in practice it is a business decision that has to be taken from the top of the organisation. That means getting the CEO, Finance Director and the board bought into the process and embracing the technology change. You will have a real uphill battle if the CEO is still using a Nokia phone, a P.A. that manages his or her diary and doesn’t embrace twitter and Linkedin.
Once you have the Board buy-in you still need to set the “guiding principles” and produce a business case that really makes sense. It’s no good if you invest a whole load of cash into a new three-year transformation process if there is no clear ROI and it doesn’t truly transform your business. Finally, going digital is a journey and not a book with a clear beginning and an end. Plotting that journey and continually iterating as you go along is also a key element of the process.
Tip 2- Digital is using technology to help solve a business problem and not the other way around:
If you are unclear about your guiding principles and have a clear route with executive buy-in there is little point in embarking on a process to improvement. All too often we discover clients who have started to implement cloud based technology and think they are “doing digital”. The start of the journey needs to look at the business processes and all the environmental and political aspects. There may be some things that are just too difficult to do straight away so once the guiding principles are clear then agreeing on quick wins and building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) are vital. This means you can then keep testing this on your customers with feedback to ensure that you can change and iterate in an agile way. Notice that at this stage I haven’t even mentioned technology as this comes further down the line
Tip 3 - Make sure that your technology teams support the business and not the other way around:
For any digital transformation, the IT group really needs to understand and work closely with the business. For example, if it is an e-commerce initiative, IT will need to gather the business requirements and then produce a prototype that allows feedback to the business users at an early stage. Whilst most of this should appear to be common sense to the reader, it is very common for IT and the business teams to adopt an “us and them” approach. The best solutions are where the two departments operate as one team and really understand in detail what the business teams (e-commerce, marketing, performance marketing etc) are trying to achieve, so it becomes customer to business-centric IT . Once this is done a” state-of-the-art”, responsive scalable demand driven infrastructure can be built to support the business. Always remember that great business and IT collaboration drives success and ultimately the bottom line!
Tip 4 - Digital journeys need to be mapped and recorded:
You really can’t do digital on a spreadsheet, although we routinely come across examples of where multiple spreadsheets are used. How many of the readers would start a physical journey with no planning and no idea of where and when they were going to arrive with no petrol gauge and no knowledge of petrol stations along the route? If you are “doing digital” why not use digital instrumentation to plan your route and then provide metrics to show the performance against plan?
Tip 5 - Digital is about understanding your customer better:
This really is the bottom line! If you are unable to fascinate and enrapture your customer then you will not achieve a positive digital outcome. We define a digital outcome as capturing more market share, improving the share price or enhancing customer satisfaction. In the majority of cases it is the last point which is the most important. If you can use digital processes and technologies to enrich your customer experience, it is almost inevitable that you will improve your bottom line. That is why we feel that listening to the voice of the customer is so important. If you are closer to your customers, you can understand better their buying habits and personas and move more quickly to address their needs. This is where the right IT solutions using cloud and agile methodologies really helps to deliver a nimble and cost-effective solution to customers changing business demands and provides real-time actionable insight into the performance of customer services.
Tip - 6 Be obsessive about customer data:
If you really understand your customers you can tailor your business solutions to their needs more swiftly and effectively. This means building a platform that is open and easy to change. Try not to lock yourself into long contracts that are difficult to change. More importantly than this is building an analytics solution that instruments your entire IT infrastructure and correlates the different channels, providing a complete end-to-end service visualisation. If you do this well, your e-commerce and digital performance marketing teams can understand your customers much better and can tailor solution to best fit their needs. Being obsessive about your customers and their requirements means tracking the “voice of the customer” and ensuring that they are getting a great experience across all of the channels as they interact with your business. We believe that next generation infrastructure will deliver this, using analytics frameworks such as our Stratiam platform to correlate user experience and IT infrastructure performance into simple business and IT leader dashboards.