Turn Your Business Digital
Digital business, digital agenda, digital transformation – these statements are already cliches. Company owners, executives, business managers and everybody else tries to piggy-back on the ‘digital’ trend. What does digital, become digital or being digital really mean in the business context? And although everybody intuitively understands, let me tease you a bit. Digital goes much beyond just going online or implementing everything in software. Digital embraces the innovative and customer-centric (or user-centric) application of design thinking (read my previous post) while designing and operating products and services. Digital includes also a clever and user-centric application of novel technologies. And all this done in an iterative, lean, learning and feedback-driven way.
Is Digital A Deadly Threat?
Let’s be very clear about it. It is a matter of life and death for any business. They either choose to embark on the next wave of innovation and thrive or they simply sink into oblivion. No-one can afford to neglect this trend. And it is not only because of the appearance of novel technologies like Internet (not so new any more), mobile, IoT or AI but, even more importantly, because of more demanding customers. Customers crave and demand now superior experiences as they are exposed to the sea of choice and they want to spend their time and money in the best possible way. Hence, digital is a must, it’s the new competitive landscape. Customer switching cost has never been lower. Loyalty is only to experiences.
Or Is This An Opportunity To Thrive?
The flip side of fear is enormous opportunity to use the digital springboard and outplay the competition. Interestingly, digital provides new ample opportunities for service or product differentiation. Can a small coffee shop compete with Starbucks? Yes, it can, e.g by building the local community of loyal customers, targeting niche coffee enthusiasts (e.g. fresh mums) and providing them with unique experience catering their needs (e.g playground for their kids). And the journey will also include digital touchpoints (ordering coffee through Whatsapp, using the mobile loyalty card and digital payment e.g.). The sky is the limit here.
Source : Agence du Numérique (AdN)
Hence, businesses can position themselves at the forefront of the change, innovate and win in the marketplace.
Undeniably, digital is a new, fast, iterative and very positive way of bringing products and services to the market. But taking the definition from above does not provide many clues on how to byte it. Digital is really sticking to several key principles:
- Focus on customer/user problems needing resolution. Go deep, try to understand the essence and don’t jump to conclusions very quickly. Do not let your wisdom and experience mislead you!
- All products and services must be user/customer driven (obvious, right?), must cater to customers’ needs and do it in a pleasant and convenient way. Customers have jobs to do and they might consider your product or service if it helps them do it (the best way) and if they can have a great experience while doing it (consider customer experience). Think about scenarios of doing those jobs as journeys, customer journeys.
- All customer touchpoints (where the customer interacts with your products or service) are the moments of truth – they can make or break products and services. All touchpoints, digital and physical must be considered here
- Superior customer experience is an essential element of the customer journey. Again, experience is as important (if not more important) than functionality
- Leverage new technologies and innovate. Yes, embrace IoT, VR, AI, lots of software. However, do it only to cater and deliver points 1 through 4. It is about meaningful application of technology
- Leverage the power of software. Marc Andreessen famously said that ‘software is eating the world’. Software is a key tool to deliver digital agendas. However, again, points 1 through 4 are leading
- Customer journeys, experiences, touchpoints need to be carefully designed. Again, customer journey cannot be the outcome of an application of technology (wrong). Quite the opposite. Application of technology is the result of a carefully designed customer journey delivering superior customer experience (where technology certainly helps). Follow the design principles of immersion-ideation-prototyping (or as I mentioned in my previous article Empathize-Define-Ideate-Prototype-Test)
- Work with multidisciplinary team. Going digital is a job for a combined team of designers, architects, technologists, engineers, marketer, etc. But do not worry, you do not need all these capabilities in-house
- Iterate, prototype, learn. Get used to building and innovating iteratively. Start with MVP, collect feedback, analyse, learn, build the next iteration and repeat the cycle. You will feel it yourself when you are done (actually never the case). Digital is outside-in and needs lots of feedback to deliver results
- Forget the linearity of the process. Going and doing digital has many loops and all elements might appear many times. And this is because the time does not stand still
You will observe digital combines many elements of design thinking, lean startup, agile product development and lean customer experience and user experience. It is important to appreciate that going digital is applying all these best methods for better customer and business outcomes. It is equally important to appreciate that going digital requires a different mindset. It may occur that solutions are easier than originally thought of simply because more stress is put into initial problem analysis and unlocking creativity ( an essential element of design thinking). Hence, the initial question is not what needs to be developed but what problem exactly needs to be tackled first. Not only requires going digital a different mindset but also a variety of skills. Companies will not be able to innovate only with internal resources. Hence, it requires companies to open up and source innovation and skills from the broader ecosystem. This collaboration will certainly pay off.
Although now a marketplace for software teams, we intend Ekipa to evolve into a digital innovation network.
We want help companies grab opportunities in the digital world and become successful.