Strategy Drives Digital Transformation, Not Technology

4 rules to follow when going through a digital transformation

digital-transformation

By Dominic Tancredi, Co-Founder & CEO

I have a tattoo. I bribed my way across the border of Cambodia and my first time skydiving, the first parachute failed.

As you can tell, I’m a huge hit in the game “two truths and a lie.”

Unfortunately, all three statements are false. One can only wish.

The same thing goes for companies big and small.

We all love lying to ourselves sometimes.

History is full of companies that lie to themselves and end up being taken over by more nimble, forward-thinking organizations.

Blockbuster, RIM (Blackberry) and Sears are prime examples of what happens when leadership doesn’t truly invest in the future. Which means realizing a potential truth.

Companies have created an alternate universe for themselves. A universe in which they believe they are protected from competitors that don’t look like them. So, why do companies continue to lie to themselves when they know digital is the future and their industry is not exempt from disruption?

The more forward-thinking companies recognize that digital is important to improve their business and invest heavily in innovation, and more recently they engage in “digital transformation” projects.

Digital transformation is now table stakes for any business.

Here are 4 rules to follow when going through a digital transformation.

Rule #1 – It’s Digital Transformation; not “Let’s build an app to fix this problem.”

When we started our digital agency, we received a lot of inquiries with specific requirements on what they wanted to build. As we grew, we noticed the requests from some of the most innovative companies were different.

Instead of “How much does this cost,” we started getting questions like “Do you think this will make an impact given our strategy” or “Here’s our strategy, what technologies can we implement to align with our strategy?”

The latter companies knew that transformation was more important than individual technologies.

We asked “Why?” and so did they.

Rule #2 – Users have zero tolerance for a lame experience.

We don’t make beautiful apps.

We make apps that people use

They just happen to be beautiful.

Making an impact in digital is not just building a beautiful app.  A beautiful mobile app that doesn’t help customers get the information they need in a timely manner is still considered a bad mobile app.

In many app store reviews, customers will give bad ratings if the app is perfect, but they had a bad personal experience with the brand or customer support (usually the creator, to start.)

Begin with your user’s journey. Solve their pain. It’ll turn out to be your pain as well. Then you can decide what decisions to make for your digital transformation.

Here’s an exercise I do with clients:

  • I ask them to provide me with 3 or 4 standard use cases of how their customers interact with their business.
  • I then ask them to pretend they are their customers and perform those use cases. I tell them to walk me through the process from start to finish.

I ask them to answer these questions:

  • How was the experience? Tell me the good and bad.
  • What would you change?
  • How would you improve your company to support this change?
  • What help do you need to make this change?

And the million dollar question, which is the basis for Net Promoter Score (NPS):

On a scale of 1-10 How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service (BLANK) to a friend or peer?

Some of my clients usually cringe when I ask them this question because they’re giving me a number they aren’t totally happy with.

Use these answers as a basis to take action on building a better customer experience.

Rule #3 – If it’s shiny, ditch it.

I know all the news headlines are talking about A.I., VR, and driverless cars, but you can safely ignore them for now (except Blockchain.)

The media focuses on what is new. That’s their job. Don’t get me wrong, those technologies will create an impact on your business, but to utilize them, you have to get your digital foundation act together.

The “digital foundation” is different for every company, but at the highest level, a company should focus on its customer experience first and enable its team to make decisions faster.

Mobile is still important; it’s just no longer considered “revolutionary.” If your site isn’t mobile-responsive, users are going to sweat.

Unless your name is Bikram, don’t make your users sweat.

You won’t be hitting the front page of any newspaper for building a mobile app. No one’s going to high five you. But, your customers will thank you. Even a single sign-on web app, is preferable. Easier navigation. Click-throughs above-the-fold.

Rule #4 – If IT is the only team responsible for digital transformation, you’re going to have a bad time.

I distinctly remember building a great digital solution for one of our clients. It was beautiful and did everything we planned on. The client loved it, and they were eager to roll it out to users.

Then they went live, and everything happened the way we thought it would.

The solution worked great but had no support from the business solutions team. The business team wasn’t ready for what the technology solution was capable of, and had to redesign their entire sales approach. Product and Business Sales entered a cold war. Eventually, they dry-docked the solution until materials were generated. It was painful to experience our launch go into “beta” and take another six months before team members felt ready to present.

It was disappointing, but from that point on, I always ask if the digital solution has buy-in from the business and has the proper support.

If you find yourself interacting with someone who “doesn’t believe in digital transformation,” then you probably should find someone who does.

More and more frequently, companies are creating innovation teams to inspect and recommend next steps for digital innovation which is a significant step. The innovation team, in the end, is helpless if the rest of the organization doesn’t support getting to a strong foundation.

If you can outlive your mistakes, and learn from them, then it’s a worthy transformation. No one said entering the 21st century was easy.

If there is a way that my team or I can help, reach out to us at today