Digital: is it about automation, robotics, AI, VR, AR, bitcoin, blockchain…or is it about humans?
Automation, robotics, AI, VR, AR, bitcoin, blockchain… these are all terms and concepts that are being talked about with increasing vigour and excitement in customer management departments up and down the land. And with good reason.
At a time when there is a relentless race to deliver services and products more efficiently, yet more intuitively, new ways need to be sought to achieve this, while safeguarding overall business performance. The search for the holy grail is well and truly underway in this space – and it should be said that, to some degree, we are blinded by these opportunities as we equate new with better.
Yet, the need to think smartly about how we engage with our customers has never been greater, so the underlying motivations are all too obvious. This is because customer expectations have never been so fundamentally challenging for businesses: we as customers lack patience, loyalty and have a short attention span, yet we are savvy, demand choice and have high expectations when it comes to how and what we receive in terms of products and services (see diagram below). We’re increasingly hard to please…five years ago, it was all about everything in three clicks when it came to websites – Amazon and others are now at a point that transactions can be completed in one simple step…with one click.
So, what many organisations are now looking for, based on these changing behaviours, is the right technology to fix things. What shiny tool can help us sort all of this out? Who has the silver bullet to resolve these issues? And the problem is that there are many shiny tools, and many silver bullets. Unfortunately, not all of them will achieve what we hope they will. And the reason why businesses fail to choose appropriately and get blinded by the shiny toy, is often because they don’t fully understand what level of change their business needs and what level of change their business can handle. A lot of this has to do with digital maturity and recognising the kind of digital change an organisation needs and can handle.
The way that we look at digital maturity is based on an assessment of six key areas (see diagram below). This assessment allows us to understand where a business is in terms of its digital journey, the challenges that it faces and what it needs to do to get the most out of technology. This allows us to assess what is right for them as a business and what choices should be made. The key with this is that it does not look at one area in isolation, because only if we have a holistic view, can we make these choices. This is a ‘sum of all parts’ type of game. We have outlined some of the core components of this assessment below:
- Innovation readiness – innovation is a really loaded term that often gets misused as a means to solve the unsolvable. What we look at is how internal behaviour can embed a culture of innovation over the prescriptive, top down approach of setting up innovation labs that is formally instructed to deliver innovative ideas and solutions.
- Customer segmentation – know who your customers really are and what they really want to do with you. You would assume that most businesses know this, but there are a lot of instances where assumption is prevalent, which leads to significant gaps in understanding the realities of customer motivation.
- Technology audit –understanding your kit, what it can do, what it can’t do and what you need it to do. A lot of businesses seem comfortable with this part, but in our experience the complexities around change towards a more customer-centric approach are often underestimated and require a much deeper level understanding of how to connect technology capability with people expectation.
- Culture and behaviour change – understanding what the cultural and behavioural fabric of your organisation is and the effect that this has on engagement with customers is crucial to developing meaningful relationships with end customers – relationships that deliver outcomes and creates positive experiences.
- Customer journey analysis – what are your customers doing and why? This is absolutely pivotal to really being able to engage with customers in a way that they want to – and it needs to be seen from their perspective.
- Workforce performance insight – a counterpart to customer journey analysis, looking at internal processes. The best results are achieved if you manage to design journeys (external) and processes (internal) simultaneously. So, in essence, having muscle and bones working nicely together to create movement.
So, although we seem to talk a lot about technology, what we are actually looking at, is people. Whether or not we are ready to automate something, or whether or not we are ready to create a virtual salesroom does not depend on the technology for it to be successful. It depends on the people around it – and only if the culture, the behaviours and the expertise are preeminent in a business can the technology solutions achieve success. We should be mindful that when we talk about the success of technology, we are actually talking about the success of people using and working with technology.