The Digital Transformation Process That Empowers You
We talk a lot about digital transformation at Chinatown Bureau and about how the essence of business is changing because of it. The thing that I hate about the idea of “digital transformation” is the baggage that comes along with it. When folks hear this term, it is a daunting, relentless undertaking that is better to ignore than embrace. But the fact of the matter is it is a reality and we need to embrace not only what has been happening, but prepare for what is to come in the world of digital business. The thing is, it’s not a daunting undertaking, but a new perspective in how we can operate as an organization.
Practically every company in today’s marketplace is a technology company. There are probably more bits and pieces of a company that are digital than it’s physical counterpart. From data on its consumers, to its supply chain, to the consumer reviews across social media, to point of purchase transactions, a business is truly a multitude of digital technologies all started at one point or another. The issues we might run into here are that none of the technologies work with one another, some might be outdated or some might not be executing against its intended purpose. All of which is causing the fear and overwhelm of the idea of digital transformation.
But we’re here to put things in perspective and help provide a guideline to allow you to become a continually evolving, digitally-powered organization. One that can react instantaneously. One that has incremental revenue streams. One that is efficient in its operations. One that is a true partner to your consumer’s experience.
To start the journey of your organization’s digital transformation, we need to set a few ground rules and perspectives. The way that disruptive organizations approach the idea of digital and business are completely different than those at more established, traditional organizations. This perspective allows them to not only move quickly and pivot, but to build strong relationships with their consumers along the way. This perspective is crucial for success and for the evolution of your company.
- Brand Experience Design: A digitally-powered organization creates a holistic consumer experience that not only communicates it’s brand promise, but fulfills that promise at each and every touchpoint.
- Lean Startup: Eric Reis does a great job communicating the benefits of acting nimbly in how we should operate as a company and how we get our products in the hands of consumers quickly to learn quickly.
- Roadmapping: Gone are the days of “if you build it, they will come.” We now live in a world of iteration where our products are a continuous evolution of our brand and consumer behaviors. Continually mapping these iterations overtime allows us to become something truly indispensable for our customers while tapping into the opportunities the evolution of business will provide.
- Human Centered Design: Designing to support a technology is an antiquated way of viewing the world. We now have to look at how humans will interact with your products. Uber surrounds it’s brand and product around its core transaction and brand promise “Where to.”
Now that we have a new mindset on our organization, it’s time to put it into action. The steps towards a renewed relationship with how digital can power your organization are allows you to take a step back, look at what your organization means, how it will act in this digital world, then find the gap between what’s happening today to what will need to happen tomorrow. Then we build, test and iterate along with your consumers.
- Vision & Brand Promise: To quote Steven Covey, “We must seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Truly understanding your consumer needs and how your company and products can fulfill those needs is the key to any type of business, but especially true when building a digitally-powered business. This understanding not only gives us the insight to communicate what our brands and products are all about, but also allows us to see how the brand promise will be fulfilled across each consumer’s journey.
- Strategy: Once we have an understanding of who we are, what we stand for and how we’ll fulfill the brand promise to our consumer, we can build a strategy that effectively supports and activates the brand. This includes messaging, interaction models, transactions, service design and even the essence of business models to some extent. Anything that drives your business or consumer relationship should communicate or fulfill your brand / product promise.
- Current State (Consumer Journey): Now let’s get into the weeds a bit. If you’re an established organization, you have a consumer journey currently. It might not be the best, but at least we can map the current state to get a benchmark of what we are working with. This audit should include everything from technology systems, service design, marketing, operations, supply chain, etc. and should be mapped across the consumer journey from unaware through to repurchase and advocacy.
- Future State (Consumer Journey): Let’s get of the weeds and in the clouds. Starting with a fresh sheet of paper or whiteboard, what would the ideal consumer journey look like using your brand promise and strategy. Work as though you are starting your business over with no legacy issues translating into the future. Start from initial awareness through to advocacy for your product. Focus on the consumer needs, not the organizational needs. Find ways to truly fulfill your brand promise and understand what transactions and interactions will do that best for your consumers. Map all of this out and identify what technologies, data and platforms might support the activation of this dream state.
- Gap Analysis & Digital Product Roadmap: Now we mash the weds with the clouds. Where are there gaps between the two worlds? This becomes your Digital Product Roadmap. This exercise allows you to not only see where you’re going, but will give you the insight to prioritize the technologies, user experience needs and incremental products can play a role to optimize your organization. The thing to look at here isn’t the whole, but the parts that you can start to take action on. Digital Transformation doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a continuous effort to go from today to tomorrow in a better, more efficient and more engaging way for your consumer.
- Design / Build / Test / Learn: Once you have your prioritized actions to build a better tomorrow, we can take a cue from Eric Reis and integrate some Lean Startup methodologies to get started on the continuous, evolutionary loop of Design / Build / Test / Learn. This will not only give you the momentum to start taking action but also the flexibility to pivot and grow along with your consumers and their behaviors.
There have been tremendous documented case studies on how digital has completely changed a organization. Depending on your vision and strategy, you’ll experience varying degrees of success, but if you stick to your essence as a brand and continuously strive to fulfill that promise at each touch point, you’re likely to have great success as well.
Efficiency: By understanding how consumers, supply chain and data flows, your organization can reap tremendous rewards in becoming more efficient. How much could your organization save if you could retain customers better, turn around an aircraft faster, reduce a step in logistics, etc.
- Effectiveness & Revenue: Understanding your consumer and revenue model in a detailed way allows you to not only become more effective in how you communicate and attract new consumers, but also find ways of incremental revenue opportunities.
- Consumer Connection: Consumers are loyal and advocate for businesses that they truly trust and connect with. There is a reason the Amazon is one of the most loved companies in the world. They understand their consumers better than anyone else and they use that knowledge to continually add incremental value.
- Funding / Incremental Revenue: A great misnomer in Digital Transformation is that it is a huge investment upfront without guaranteed success. Fortunately, that is a large myth that should be dispelled. The great thing about working in an evolutionary and iterative mindset, is that cost savings and incremental revenue can happen relatively quickly, providing your organization the savings or profit to continually reinvest back in your digital transformation process.
- Culture: I’ve heard many times from some of the largest companies in the world that “we want to act like a startup.” They see the culture and excitement a startup has to offer and want to be a part of that magic and secret sauce. By transforming your organization for Digital Transformation, the culture will shift towards this mindset.
Digital Transformation isn’t necessarily the cure for all that ails an organization, but the process is a great framework to identify those ailments and devise a solution around them. We are at a great moment in time where we can recreate our business for the future. Even if you’re organization has been around for hundreds of years, you have the power to take a step back, get back to your roots and define what that means in this digital future we are in. It is a moment of empowerment and excitement and should never be seen as a moment of turmoil or anxiety.