William began his career in advertising sales for a major publishing house in London, then in 2005 moved to Monaco where he started his career in Executive Search building the EMEA leadership teams of fast growth Nasdaq listed technology companies. I...
19 October 2023
While the buzz about digital transformation persists, the concept is not new. The term took hold around the late 1990s when computerized procedures began to be implemented as strategic business tools.
The Internet connected businesses to customers digitally via websites, and online systems were created to assist with customer support. Large corporations like banks and insurance companies began to dismantle the layered systems – or silos – they had operated in for years, making digital business transactions seamless for clients.
The key components of digital transformation brought valuable change in three areas:
Focus on customer experience (CX)
By aligning a digital strategy with their company’s overall business goals, C-suite leaders were able to drive business transformation, working together to leverage the expertise of their technology partners and training employees to work on new platforms.
Engaging the entire C-suite and employees in strategic discussions allows business leaders to implement insights on technology feasibility, risks and opportunities that pertain to a specific industry.
Says William Langdon-Banks, Partner, Technology Practice, Signium UK: “Given the recent instability in the market and the lack of funding for tech start-ups that were aiming to scale, many companies and their executives need to move away from the ‘flight to growth’ mentality (scaling their business at all costs) to ‘flight to quality’ (prioritizing profitability at all costs).”
“Consequently, CTOs are spending more time than ever optimizing processes and reducing costs.”
Emerging technologies: AI, cloud computing, CX
Today’s emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing and data analytics, are revolutionizing business operations by enhancing CX and boosting competitiveness.
Market research firm Next Move Strategy Consulting predicts the market for AI will show strong growth in the coming decade, with its current value of almost US$100-billion tipped to grow twentyfold by 2030, to around US$2-trillion.
Gartner suggests that by 2026, 75% of organizations will adopt a digital transformation model predicated on cloud as the underlying platform. Cloud Computing enables companies to scale and maintain flexibility, while the C-suite focuses on business operations, not managing complex IT infrastructure.
Adding to these initiatives, Accenture underlines that the importance of CX cannot be overestimated, as “investing in customer experience is imperative to retaining customers and driving growth”.
How can organisations successfully navigate digital transformation?
Digital transformation requires a significant shift in the way employees work and interact with technology. Skills such as data analytics, cybersecurity and digital marketing can be enhanced through workshops, on-the-job training with mentors, or online courses.
Transformation is dynamic and continually evolving, so a culture of continuous learning may be encouraged via regular training opportunities, certification courses and resources that keep employees on trend with the latest digital and technology innovation.
Developing a workforce that can drive digital transformation is crucial. The stand-out initiatives in this area are:
Talent acquisition: Hire individuals with expertise in digital technologies and innovative thinking to inject fresh perspectives into the organization.
Cross-functional teams: Teams that include members from different departments collaborating to foster a culture of innovation.
Leadership development: Experts assert that investing in programs to equip leaders with the skills and mindset needed to guide the organization through digital transformation deliver huge returns.
Combating resistance to change
In a Harvard Business Review article, Rosabeth Moss Kanter says “resistance to change manifests itself in many ways, from foot-dragging and inertia to petty sabotage to outright rebellion”.
Decisions imposed on people suddenly with no time to get used to the idea or prepare for the consequences are generally resisted, she hypothesizes, noting that “leaders should avoid the temptation to craft changes in secret and then announce them all at once”.
By creating a blueprint for change and engaging with all personnel throughout the journey, leaders have a far better chance of eliciting enthusiasm. It takes a good leader to work with the “change-averse” – empathy, willingness to listen and excellent communication is critical.
Case Study: A portrait of digital transformation
ASOS (AsSeenOnScreen) is an online fashion and beauty retailer headquartered in the United Kingdom, known for its broad range of fashion products and its commitment to digital innovation.
ASOS has leveraged digital transformation to enhance CX and drive sales in several ways, mainly:
Personalized shopping: ASOS employs advanced data analytics and machine learning algorithms to offer personalized product recommendations to customers. By analyzing customer behavior and preferences, it curates bespoke product suggestions to encourage sales.
Mobile app and social commerce: A user-friendly ASOS mobile app enables seamless shopping on smartphones. Social media platforms promote products, engage with customers and leverage user-generated content, which has been vital to driving sales among younger demographics.
Virtual try-on tech: Using augmented reality (AR) ASOS enables customers to see how clothing would look on them before purchasing. The technology helps reduce returns and boost customer confidence, again leading to increased sales.
Managing inventory: Digital tools for efficient inventory management and demand forecasting ensure popular items are in stock, reducing the likelihood of “sold out” items leading to lost sales.
Consumers are informed of ASOS sustainability around the environmental impact of products and sustainable fashion options. Eco-conscious clients appreciate the transparency and choice, which contributes to sales growth.
ASOS’s digital transformation initiatives have not only improved the CX, but have significantly driven the company’s sales growth and global expansion. Innovative use of data analytics, mobile technology and AR has delivered a winning combination in the constantly evolving e-commerce arena.
This is one example of a company combining digital tools, training and good governance in a package that attracts customers. By continually evaluating their company’s digital maturity and implementing newly-developed strategies, the C-suite is likely to stay ahead of the curve in both knowledge and sales.
Put simply, digital transformation is reliable information, available to every member of your team, to maximize efficiency.