Leadership

The Top 3 Reasons Why Digital Transformation is so Difficult

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  1. Finding a vision when you don’t have anything concrete to go to

Firstly, take comfort in the fact that no one knew where things were going with digital disruption and didn’t have a clear vision to begin with. We are in the age of “we’re figuring this out as we go.” The fundamental question everyone will be asking you and your organization is why. Why is your organization going to actually go ahead and take this leap into whatever the heck “digital” is for you – especially if you are not traditionally a technology business. For some organizations it is clear – you are losing market share and money to disrupters. For some organizations, it might not be so evident (I know this sounds crazy, and yes we have historical examples of epic fails that should be enough) but depending on the kind of business you are in, and how your business has evolved – it might not be so obvious.

So what should you do?

Knowing that there is empirical evidence of organizational downfalls and why this occurred is probably the first start. Why is this important? It’s because you have to do some outside in scanning and understand the core business reason that it happened. Just because it is not your business exactly, doesn’t mean that the underlying issue can’t impact you (ego reasons, culture reasons, investment – or non investment decisions etc.) If you haven’t done it yet, you should perform a SWOT and PESTLE analysis. Take a look at the weakness/threats your organization has and the external things happening in your industry, nationally or globally that will at some point have an impact on your organization.

Next you have to determine whether you want to take an offensive or defensive (or both) approach to your transformation. There are a few reasons that are pretty standard that underlay digital transformation if you don’t consider it an imminent threat or if you’re not losing money… yet. You can choose from the below, what you think might be the most important to your organization and its future:

  • Because the pace of technology change is quicker outside your organization than in
  • Because customers demand better user experiences and access on all different types of technology platforms
  • Because the world is going to be increasingly interconnected through technology
  • Because you need to think about your succession planning and talent attraction/retention

Maybe its one of the above or maybe it is all of the above. But take your SWOT/PESTLE and any of the above reasons, as well as whether you think you should be going offensive or defensive. You now have your “why” and some places you think you should be headed as an organization. You have a vision of where you want to go and you can create an action plan around it.

2. Business Model Generation

Now the truth is – and if you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times – digital transformation is business transformation. What does this actually mean?

  • It means how you invest your money will change, because you will need to bring in new talent, stand up new divisions and the biggest will be how you invest in your technology infrastructure and architecture to enable your organization.
  • It means how your budgets are planned and allocated will need to change. People get resistant to having smaller head counts or having less money to do what they want. It might even change how you do your accounting in the business.
  • It means processes are going to change. Areas that once owned a process, or where certain decisions happened will change. Often people translate this immediately too: job loss. But no. It just mostly likely means that roles get to change, or the ownership of certain aspects of the process are shifting.

You can choose a variety of models for digital: Decentralized, Centralized, Center’s of Excellence, Offsite (Labs, Mode 1/2). What you pick is really dependent on how your business operates and what you think will help you get early wins. What matters most is that best practices in change management are carried out, which include tons of communication and that processes, roles and responsibilities get ironed out to prevent conflict.

3. A willingness to admit that you may not have the right people at the table

Digital is one of these tricky things that didn’t happen with a school degree. Most digital professionals (myself included), didn’t have a digital degree option when we were in school – and had to go through the evolution of this industry in the school of hard knocks. You might (or might not) be surprised by this, but many digital professionals came from IT (development or product engineering) or marketing/communications – because digital really is the intersection of these functions.

There are numerous debates about whether Digital should be part of IT, or Marketing or on it’s own – but nonetheless it requires people who have real experience in delivery of digital products and experiences. More importantly it requires people at the decision making table with the experience to understand what the organization is being asked to do when it comes to becoming digitally enabled. It means having someone who is versed in digital who can inspire and excite, can see the future of where your organization could go digitally and who can ruffle feathers in a non-threatening way while pushing change in places with less resistance to drive the places with more resistance.

Why does this matter? Those who work in delivery know when someone does or doesn’t understand. You must have a leader that is able to talk to developers, engineers, UX pros, look at the analytics and understand what they are telling you. This is the difference between garnering real respect from your reports. Their belief in you as the beacon for organizational change rides on this respect.

It also requires someone who can speak to the rest of your business and build and nurture relationships for when the going gets tough (cause it’s gonna)! If you have someone at the table who can really understand the details of what is required to deliver digital transformation, it helps decision makers understand what they are getting into. Someone at the decision making table with these skills means the ability to create the endorsement, relationships and support needed to mobilize an organization to really make change.

Do you have the right skills in the right places with the right people to make your organizational evolution possible? It’s a tough call, and only you know what your organization needs – but it does mean you have to be willing to admit that you may not have what you need.

What are some of your lessons learned that you would be willing to share with other change agents?

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How Centennial College Inspires Innovation

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Winner’s of Centennial College’s 2015 Global Academy, Social Innovation Competition with the executive judging panel

 

On April 08, 2015 I was asked to part of the executive judging panel at Centennial College’s Global Academy, Social Innovation for Social Good competition.  First of all what a great honour, and secondly thank you to Yasmin Razack, the Director of Global Citizenship Education and Inclusion at Centennial for reaching out and asking me.

Student from various schools participated, presenting solutions to various global challenges.  Ideas ranged from solutions to human trafficking in Peru,  to partnering with a major Condom brand for sexual education and assistance to how schools could have composting activities that is then used to help tree growth in the city.

What does that have to do with me or digital?  The amount of digital initiatives put forward were astounding. Using our mobile phones for our entire self identity to reduce paper and plastic consumption for ID and financial cards, a sexual education app that connected people to resources and medical assistance, a website to challenge social networking bullying and provide education.

Digital was weaved through everything.  I thought I would have very little to say, but almost every presentation touched what I am most passionate about, and really inspired me about who’s hands we will be leaving our future in.

The winners were the ones who came up with a simple spin on technology.  Using kinetic energy from gym treadmills and spin classes to charge car batteries that would generate electricity.  A simple solution to a growing energy crisis.  They won $5,000 towards funding their initiative and are interested in starting this project in the College’s own gym.

Congratulations to the winners, and thanks to Centennial College and Yasmin Razack for including me in such a wonderful event.

 

Customer Experience: A Mercedes Benz Example

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This post is incredibly timely based on my discussions and posts surrounding customer experience.  The Big Data talks is about all of this.  Leveraging data throughout an organization to understand the customer journey, in order to enhance the customer experience.  This is what is going to differentiate brands.

In October of 2014, Loyalty 360 reported that Mercedes Benz CEO advised that Customer Experience is the New Marketing.   I am in fact a Mercedes Benz owner.  I love my car.  In fact, when I gotten into the market for an entry level luxury car 4 years ago Mercedes was my front runner.  I test drove Audi, Lexus, BMW and Mercedes Benz a number of times.  In the end, Benz won out anyways.

It was the first time in my life that I truly understood a man’s obsession and love for a vehicle.  When my dad suggested that I go to Wal-Mart for all season mats and a snow remover, I looked at him like he has a third head.  Was he nuts?  I wanted all Mercedes Benz things for my baby. I wanted to be part of the Mercedes Benz experience.  I wanted to be known as a Mercedes Benz owner, because to me it symbolized that I had the best.  It meant that I was going places, and I was going places because I wanted the best out of life.

This is branding at its strongest.  Having a customer associate their lifestyle and personality as a reflection of a brand because of what that experience means.  I give leniency on the road to other Benz owners, I tend to look for parking beside other Benz’s because I already know those owners will respect my car, and should we happen to see each other getting in or out of our cars their is always a friendly nod and smile.

I recently had to switch banks because of an employer change. I took a day off of work and made sure to take care of it all because I wanted peace of mind.  So you can imagine my surprise when over a month later my car payment bounced in my old account causing an NSF charge that pushed the account into an overdraft that I didn’t have.

Switching my banking information with Mercedes Benz was fairly simple compared to some other companies I had to deal with.  I just had to send an e-mail with a scanned void cheque (unlike other companies that required me to fill out another PAP agreement, provide ID, a void cheque and either fax or go in in person).

Mercedes Benz claimed that they had not received the e-mail despite me forwarding through the e-mail I sent to them originally a month prior.

They needed more time to investigate and in the interim a second attempt for payment went through the old account with a secondary NSF charge.  Thankfully this time my bank reversed the charge because I had put a stop payment on the account.

In the end Mercedes agreed to reverse the NSF.  I felt really elated.  So thank you Mercedes Benz Financial for doing so.

But what could have been done to make it a better customer experience for me and ensure customer retention?

  1. Mercedes Benz Financial could allow customers to change their banking information on their website.  This is where customers go to check their balances and payment history, and would make tracking of online activity and confirmation so much easier.
  2. Empower customer services representatives to be able to to act immediately for the customer rather than confining them.  By looking at the activity on my accounts, calls made, and the correspondence they would have noticed that I had been with them for 4 years, there had never ever been a missed or bounced payment, and that my finance was coming up for renewal.
  3. The data Mercedes Benz has on me would have given them pretty powerful insights into my behaviours, patterns and interests.  They also have had call profile outlining the reasons I call them and whether I am difficult or easy to appease.

Using these insights and empowering their reps can save them thousands of dollars in efficiencies and provide a best in class customer experience.  While I can’t say that I would change my car (because I do love the brand and the car), I do see great areas of opportunity for a beloved brand to kick things up a notch, to provide an even greater brand experience.

 

 

 

 

Big Data: Do Analytics really work?

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It seems that the big buzz word today is “Big Data”.  Every where you turn someone, somewhere is discussing what “big data” means for companies, and digital teams, and business models!  The questions is…is big data working?  By that I mean, as digital strategists, planners, UX ers, community managers…. how does big data really work for us>

The aim of the game is that we are all supposed to be forward looking right?  We’re supposed to be anticipating where we should take things for our brands and tightening that bond with our audiences.  Analytics, for the most part – took place in the past.

Yeah -it already happened.  And it’s not necessarily a predictor of where we should be going, no?  Especially when you consider that people use technology based on what is given to them and not necessarily on how they would like to use it.  I liken that to the debate that companies have around deciding whether to mobile optimize a site or go responsive based on the data around how users visit their site.  If mobile devices show as a lower proportion of the audience visits, then what does that really say about the audience.

The questions becomes – are the users desk top users and therefore that is the user base to cater for, or is it that because the site is only built for desktop experiences, mobile users are frustrated and forced to use their desktops?

Big data means that we have to consider that this data from the past, may not actually be a true reflection of how users want to use our digital properties but rather how they try to use it based on its limitations.  Our job is to think about the future and anticipate those changes or identify the gaps that big data just won’t give us.

We have to be creative in filling those gaps, through survey’s, mapping customer experiences, understanding drop off rates and the user flow that took place before a user leaves a site –  to create the story of what that digital experience needs to be in the future where data doesn’t exist.