In a previous blog entry, I argued that everyone needs to digitize their business, but not every business knows what to do. Transforming into a digital businesses, especially if you’re a traditional enterprise, is hard work. However, we believe that Asia Pacific is already primed for digital disruption.
In my report, The State Of Digital Business In Asia Pacific In 2014, we found that, while the highest-profile digital business pioneers are headquartered in North America, market demand in Asia Pacific is more conducive to long-term digital disruption. Asia Pacific has five times as many Internet users and smartphone subscribers as the US and almost as much online retail spending as the US and Europe combined. You just need to look at regional powerhouses like Alibaba.com and Commonwealth Bank of Australia and their multibillion-dollar businesses to grasp the rewards of digital business success in Asia Pacific.
However, knowing what these firms have accomplished is insufficient; knowing how to get there is more critical. You should:
In our recent report Closing The Experience Gaps, Ted Schadler and I talked about two key elements to meeting customers’ rising expectations: creating an architecture for cross-channel experience delivery and developing a philosophy and culture of business agility. Given it builds on many of the concepts that we outlined in the Software Must Enhance Your Brand, I wanted to highlight the key aspects of the second element: developing a philosophy and culture of business agility.
Closing the experience gaps — performance, convenience, personalization, and trust — requires a different mindset. The shift in customer expectations, fueled by an increasing rate of technology change, means that firms need to act more like a cloud-based ISV, not a traditional IT shop. This requires an agile process and continuous development from small teams spanning business, design, and technology competencies. Part of this makeover includes improving technical and design competencies. Companies like GE and Wal-Mart have dramatically upskilled their technology teams.
At the core of this new mindset are five cultural, process, and skill imperatives:
Align business and technology executives. Successful customer experience transformation efforts at Delta Air Lines and The Home Depot have at their core an accommodation between the CEO, business executives, and the CIO.
Embrace an agile, sense-and-respond continuous delivery process. Great customer experiences today are table stakes tomorrow. To continuously improve experiences, companies must work differently, in small agile teams that span business, design, and technology — what we call IDEA teams.
For those of us who write and think about the future of healthcare, the story of rapid and systemic change rocking the healthcare system is a recurrent theme. We usually point to the regulatory environment as the source of change. Laws like the Affordable Care Act and the HITECH Act are such glaring disruptive forces, but what empowers these regulations to succeed? Perhaps the deepest cause of change affecting healthcare, and the most disruptive force, is the digitalization of our clinical records. As we continue to switch to electronic charts, this force of the vast data being collected becomes increasingly obvious. One-fifth of the world’s data is purported to be administrative and clinical medical records. Recording medical observations, lab results, diagnoses, and the orders that care professionals make in binary form is a game-changer.
Workflows are dramatically altered because caregivers spend so much of their time using the system to record clinical facts and must balance these record-keeping responsibilities with the more traditional bedside skills. They have access to more facts more easily than before, which allows them to make better judgments. The increasing ability of caregivers to see what their colleagues are doing, or have done, across institutional boundaries is allowing for better coordination of care. The use of clinical data for research into what works and what is efficient is becoming pervasive. This research is conducted by combining records from several institutions and having the quality committees of individual institutions look at the history of care within their institutions to enhance the ways in which they create the institutional standards of care. The data represents a vast resource of evidence that allows great innovation.
Every business must transform into a digital business. Digital businesses continuously exploit digital technologies to create new sources of value for their customers and increase their operational agility to serve those customers. In Asia Pacific, CIOs have had limited success in driving digital business transformation. Organizations taking an early lead in transforming their business include Commonwealth Bank of Australia, China’s Ping An Insurance Group, and DBS Bank in Singapore.
A true digital business needs to integrate two sides of a digital strategy: digital customer experience and digital operational excellence. My colleague Nigel Fenwick has written extensively on the topic; this infographic, for example, sums up our thinking. Becoming a truly digital business requires a radical overhaul of organizational structures, technologies, measurement frameworks, and operating models. And it’s ongoing.
The organizations coping best with digital disruption are creating:
A digital strategy as a defense mechanism against disruption. The pace of consumer change poses the biggest threat to any traditional businesses that have yet to experience the impact of digital disruption, regardless of whether they’re in the telecommunications, media and entertainment, transportation and travel, or other industry. For example, Australia Post has set up a A$2 billion kitty to aggressively pursue a digital strategy to tap into new revenue sources, including building a new center for the digital delivery of mobile and online products and services.
Professional services firms must go through their own digital transformation before they can truly help their customers. In this comment we highlight some observations we made during a recent analyst event of one of the leading global professional services firms PWC.
Digital strategies will not translate into sustainable business models for the digital age
PWC is right to state that customers do not need digital strategies. Instead, they need support to prepare themselves for the digital age. But digital transformation projects are not so much about technology as about redesigning business models and changing the style of doing business. Hence, successful CIOs recognize that:
Cultural transformation is the main challenge for digital transformation. Digital businesses map out customer journeys and ensure that products turn into plug-ins for broader digital propositions. These propositions are connected through data, communities, and collaboration. This allows the business to understand who the customers are and how they use products. It’s easier to implement technology innovations than to change habits and culture. Technology is only the catalyst for cultural and organizational transformation. The transition of Philips towards a vendor of digital propositions is a case in point.
Vacations are over – or at least mine is – but I’ve brought home some of mine for homework. Yes, I did a little work while on vacation. While in Costa Rica this summer, I had the opportunity to meet with the country’s Director of Digital Government, Alicia Avendaño Rivera.
Governments worldwide recognize the power of “going digital.” The recently announced US Digital Service and the appointment of its dedicated Administrator illustrate a commitment on the part of the US Federal government. Yet the US is merely joining others who have made similar commitments to transforming government with a focus on efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and empowering citizens and businesses through new digital technologies. Alicia Avendaño has served as Costa Rica’s Director of Digital Government since 2009.
Costa Rica Digital Government initiatives address four main goals:
G2C: Government to Citizen – citizen oriented services
G2B Government to Business – rapid and transparent business services
G2G: Government to Government – efficient and interconnected services
Infrastructure – favorable ICT infrastructure and legal framework
Your business executives seek top line growth – 7 out of every 10 we survey state growth is their top priority. Growth requires competitive advantage, but hanging on to yesterday’s competitive advantage will doom your firm. Your technology empowered customers have more power over your brand than ever before. And today’s world of global sourcing and efficient supply chains allows your competition – old and new – to copy or undermine any move you make to compete. Technology has fundamentally changed the competitive landscape.
We believe the only source of competitive advantage is an obsession with understanding and engaging with your customers. Your business leaders across Sales, Customer Service, Marketing, and Product Development now look to technology to help them obsess about your customers. Unfortunately, the majority of those same business leaders don’t think you and your team can accelerate their success.
You can start changing the dynamics in your organization, and build new competitive advantage, by crafting a business technology agenda. That agenda must focus on what you do with technology, systems, and processes to win, serve, and retain customers. And it starts with putting your customers at the center of your decision making. Once you do, you’ll start to reshape your technology portfolio and prioritize the technologies that help your business obsess about its customers.
Forrester’s Customer Experience Index (CXi) research reveals a shocking business result: Over five years, CXi leaders outperformed the S&P with 43% stock growth, while CXi laggards had negative returns of -34%. (See this Forrester report to learn about our new customer experience index.)
As a result, firms are in an arms race to mobilize their services, deliver new digital capabilities, and delight customers on every step of their journey. eBusiness, marketing, and customer experience teams are eagerly adopting new software to deliver these digital experiences. At times, they chose a conscious uncoupling from the CIO’s team in order to move quickly and stay ahead of customers’ expectations.
Unfortunately, the mismatch of customer-facing teams scrambling to build new digital services while CIOs and their teams hunker down to cut cost and risk has caused a disconnect on the role of technology management in delivering great experiences. In a new Forrester report, Closing The Experience Gaps, my colleague Ted Schadler and I interviewed more than 35 companies and analyzed survey results from 3,502 US consumers, we uncovered this misalignment and identified the four experience gaps that result (see Figure 1).
Figure 1 Experience Delivery Requires A New Architecture And Philosophy
Last March, we published The Future Of Business Is Digital and predicted that all businesses must evolve to become digital businesses. Since then, many CIOs in government agencies have asked about the role of digital in government. And yesterday, on The White House Blog, the president made it clear where he stands: The future of government is digital!
In announcing the creation of the US Digital Service, President Obama is reinforcing the need to bring greater agility to federal technology management in service of citizen taxpayers who foot the bill.
"A core part of the President’s Management Agenda is improving the value we deliver to citizens through Federal IT. That’s why, today, the Administration is formally launching the U.S. Digital Service. The Digital Service will be a small team made up of our country’s brightest digital talent that will work with agencies to remove barriers to exceptional service delivery and help remake the digital experience that people and businesses have with their government."
It’s a fact: Marketers in Asia purchase digital technologies without involving the tech management department. They do it because they believe that:
Digital technologies are key enablers of successful marketing strategies. Customers in Asia Pacific in general, and in Singapore in particular, are always connected and empowered by technology to access the right information in their moments of need. They increasingly value — and do business with — organizations that provide them with experiences that are effective, easy, and emotional across all customer touchpoints. It’s not a surprise, then to see marketing professionals — just like their colleagues in sales, product management, and customer service — source digital technologies to enable such experiences.
The tech management department hinders their business success. This is the more worrying part, but if you take a step back, as a technology management professional, you understand why. You work with technology life cycles that are oriented toward core business, back-end systems like enterprise resource planning and therefore are risk-averse and slow. However, marketers need tech management professionals who are open to innovation, experimentation, and moving toward a risk-tolerant, agile life cycle that supports digital experience delivery.