Companies race to keep pace with latest digital technology
WITH digital disruption taking place at every organisation at breakneck speed, companies are scrambling to keep pace with the latest digital technology. According to global research company Forrester, about 63% of business leaders in South-East Asia see improving customer experience as their top business priority.
MIT research scientist Andrew McAfee equates the current phase of digital technology as the “second half of the chess board”. He firmly believes that the upcoming digital innovation that will affect the business world is going to be absolutely transformative. Towards this end, he says organisations should embrace and start leading the digital transformation to spearhead their growth.
In the digital transformation journey, the pertinent question companies must ask themselves is whether their customers and business partners are at the core of this journey.
Similarly, the success of marketers lies not only in embracing digital transformation to effectively position their brands but whether customers and partners are at the centre of this change.
At a recent conference on Customer-Centric Digital Transformation, experts and thought leaders from various fields converged and shared their views, among others, on how to unleash the power of digital transformation by focusing on customers and partners across all functions.
The event was organised by Marketing Magazine along with Transformation and Knowledge Partner TMI Malaysia. The Star was one of the media partners for the event.
Sharing her views as a moderator for the event, Malati Siniah, a content marketing practitioner, says: “Through our Spotlight Session, where we had three industry professions on stage answering in real time the questions submitted by our delegates, we were able to get a sense of their current challenges faced when going through digital transformation.
“Among the 200 questions submitted, there were several themes that cropped up including the breakdown in communication between departments, getting the top management onboard towards transformation, balancing digital transformation and the human touch in customer experience and more”
Malati moderated the ‘Spotlight Session: Practical Stories from Transformational Leaders.”
Commenting on the pace of digital disruption, bestseller “Branded Customer Service” co-author and former chief economist Paul Stewart says digital is disrupting the business environment at an unprecedented rate.
“We are experiencing the fastest and most dramatic change in the history of humankind. In fact, based upon current estimates, up to half of the companies that exist today will have disappeared in less than 10 years,’’ he adds.
Stewart, who is also is an international consultant and the CEO of P. S. Thinking New Zealand, thinks it’s more about how companies and marketers can transform to thrive through this period of tremendous disruption.
“Marketers must reimagine their role because the nature of their influence is changing too. For example, organisations have less ability to manage their brands by controlling the messages. Instead, they can tune into how customer expectations, preferences and behaviours are changing and use that intelligence to reconfigure and reposition their products, services and brands,’’ he notes.
Expressing his views on digital transformation, CIMB Group chief marketing and customer experience officer Mohd Adam Wee Abdullah tells StarBizWeek that with digital, marketers can better monitor campaign effectiveness and make adjustments sooner if results are not up to expectations.
“The immediacy that digital platforms offer allows marketers more flexibility to throttle up if a campaign needs more momentum and to throttle down when results are achieved.
“A very important component of digital transformation is to approach it on a “mobile first” basis. Interactions online is increasingly via mobile devices. We have seen an increase in CIMB related searches with up to 70% of these searches coming from mobile,’’ he adds.
Elaborating on customer centricity and its importance to digital transformation, he says at CIMB, customers are always at the centre of everything it does.
Digital transformation is not just about digitising current manual processes but should start with an intent to improve productivity as well as re-engineering processes to deliver a better customer experience. “The aim is to make the processes easier, more efficient and going the extra-mile for customers. We call these our 3Es,’’ Mohd Adam explains.
Celcom Axiata Bhd chief customer service and customer experience officer Rene Werner stresses that a company can provide a much more relevant customer experience if it has more data.
“The old market approach is more broad brush base even though there is segmentisation. But a company which has a rich data base can customise their customers experience stronger and make it relevant. This will help companies grow their business. Digital provides more customer data and if used in a proper way, it will help serve customers better. However, the data sets of customer should not infringe on customers privacy,” he notes.
Werner also highlights that there is a need to constantly update the relevant processes when an organisation undertakes digital transformation to ensure its validity.
This is because he says that processes has to go in line with the transformation and reflect the change, adding that it has to be simplified.
For Celcom Axiata, Werner says the telecommunication provider’s market share has improved and a large part of this has to do with customer experience and using digital as one of the many tools.
The real challenge – the people
Having the right technology tools alone can a marketer succeed in his digital transformation journey? The plain answer to this is he will not.
Attesting to this, Catcha Group marketing and communications global director Stephanie Caunter says although technology is very important but without proper and effective communication, a company’s digital transformation plan or strategy will fail.
“Communicating the digital technology to companies staff and making them understand that why they need to be a part of it and how can they can utilise the relevant technology will ensure an organisation’s success in their transformation journey. Without proper communication, whatever plans or ideas etc will not translate into successful business ventures, “ she stresses.
Adding on, Stewart says the biggest challenge is not in the technology but rather it is in the mindset of the people in the organisations. “Companies like LInkedIn, FaceBook, Amazon and Google did not face this issue. They were born as digital babies, and grew up to become business giants.
“Digital is in their DNA. This is not the case when we look at most businesses today.
“We have senior leadership teams and management teams whose success has been based on a given mindset. The challenge is that these teams need to unlearn and leave behind thinking that has been important to them,’’ he adds.
Towards this end, Stewart says the real challenge facing companies today is to move fast, or risk being one of the companies that will not be here in 10 years’ time.
Giving his take, Mohd Adam says there are more challenges in implementing digital transformation in a large established organisation. Apart from the challenge of “legacy systems”, it is also a challenge to prioritise the areas of transformation and to execute the projects in a modular manner, he adds.
“Internal engagements is an area often overlooked and should be formulated as an integral part of the digital transformation plan which means re-training and upskilling of employees and driving new thinking and behaviour,’’ Mohd Adam explains.