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CIO Review >> Magazine >> May - 2016 issue

Rethink your Enterprise to Attract Digital Age Customers


Digital is front and centre in almost every CXO conversation across the globe. The digital age is the outcome of the convergence of consumer technologies like mobility, social media and analytics, coupled with infrastructure advances like cloud computing and the increased availability of high speed 3G/4G and broadband networks.

However, just launching a mobile app will not propel a company into the digital age. To achieve sustainable success, they need to adopt a holistic approach and go beyond the technology. They need to fundamentally rethink every aspect of their organization, including their business model, strategy, culture, people and processes.

Innovative companies like Amazon, Apple, Google and PayPal have capitalized on this technology explosion to build disruptive business models which have challenged incumbents across multiple industries.

Start with your Future Customer

Digital age customers are wired differently and their behaviour often defies conventional wisdom.

They are better informed about the product, price and quality, they are influenced by peers rather than advertisers, they prefer texting to talking, their notion of customer experience revolves around simplicity, and their views on personal space and privacy are very different than previous generations.

Every digital transformation initiative needs to begin with your Future Customer. The strategy and execution must be aligned to your organization’s understanding of the Digital age Customer.

Modernize the Enterprise to go Digital

When it comes to enterprise digital transformation, the integration of digital systems with legacy systems cannot be achieved with patchwork, band-aid type solutions. It requires a fundamental rethink of the business and technology architecture of the enterprise.

The initial focus of digital initiatives has largely been around enabling new channels like mobility and social, as well as designing high quality customer experiences. But true digital transformation requires going beyond the channels to modernize the enterprise architecture to keep pace with the demands of the digital consumer.

Forrester Research, in its predictions for 2016, stated that “Customer Experience cannot improve without transforming the backend transaction
processing systems”.

Digital transformation cannot be limited to customer facing parts of the enterprise, but needs to extend across the enterprise to modernize core systems and processes that impact customers, employees, business partners, and other internal and external stakeholders.

IT partners need to move beyond the CIO organization and build deeper relationships with business stakeholders to understand the real drivers of the digital imperative. They also need to engage in “possibility thinking” conversations to adopt innovative thinking from digital pioneers in other industries.

Don’t Digitize Inefficiency

In large technology transformations, companies typically map existing business requirements to software capabilities. Furthermore, they customize the software to meet these “unique” business needs, which often results in automating rigid, inefficient and flawed processes.

Digitizing processes without redesigning them to keep up with dynamic market conditions will have a limited impact on business performance, which should be the ultimate goal of every technology program.

Organizations need to think of software systems as continuously evolving products which are designed for agility, rather than as static entities. Agile thinking will enable technology systems to evolve continuously and stay abreast or ahead of the dynamic changes in the business marketplace.