Are you leveraging these 4 Post-Covid Digital Transformation Trends?

Every business is digital and aspires to be contactless

Regardless of how well your community responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing is clear: Businesses in all industries have a new front door, and it’s a digital door. We have all adapted to the realities of social distancing by turning to contactless engagements, with just about every industry adopting digital experiences in the name of safety. While many businesses and industries suffered, shuttered, or closed, the organizations that embraced these three trends were able to pivot, to survive and to thrive.

The pandemic caused consumer behavior to advance five years in one

Everyone accelerated their digital transformation (DX) initiatives to meet the change in customer expectations. Across industries, survey data have the same result, decision-makers accelerated and are continuing to accelerate digital initiatives by investing in launching new online customer experiences. Some of the surveys even indicate that we’ve leapfrogged adoption of e-commerce to the tune of five years. Even grandma is on Discord and mastering the art of ecommerce.[1]

So how do decision makers responsible for digital experiences explode off the starting blocks once the vaccines allow for a new normal? Two years from now, what will the world look like for businesses that have been successful in implementing DX projects?

Here are the four trends that thriving businesses will master in order to thrive in the new economy:

  1. Make Work Frictionless

  2. Layer in new business models with your existing ones

  3. Build the Digital Foundation with customer data

  4. Great digital experiences leverage design thinking

1.     Make Work Frictionless

Remote work is here to stay. There is a percentage of many staffs that may never return to the office, not now, not in 18 months, not ever. For some companies, they are repositioning their recruiting pitches to showcase their policies that enable 100% remote work. Companies that do are able to recruit globally and attract the best talent if they have made the right investments.

But a lot of the processes that your teams are doing are person dependent. That’s part of the reason we are experiencing zoom fatigue; we need to collaborate more than ever before. Shortly, we will advance to a hybrid model of working. Some employees will come into the office a few days a week, others every day, and others rarely or never.

So how are managers elevating their person-dependencies to scale processes that drive the business? How can you go from person-dependent business to a process dependent one?

It’s more than Zoom, Slack and Dropbox.

While it’s important to improve communication and decision-making processes with remote workers, more meetings are not a scalable approach; but documenting and digitizing those process is.

Documenting and standardizing processes enables frictionless work.

Work should be frictionless. It should be scalable. It should be documented.  Only then are you in a position to digitize and automate your processes. You do this by using tools to help you clearly document and collaborate your processes.

Documenting Processes: We use tools such as Signavio, Visio and LucidChart to document business processes. What’s nice about Signavio is that it has a collaboration hub, enabling practitioners to view the desired project in an easy-to-understand online environment.

Scaling and Standardizing Processes: After documenting processes, you can adopt a Portfolio and Program Management tool to standardize and scale your processes.  A leader in this space is Workfront, and it’s no wonder that they call themselves an Operational System of Record (OSR). Work comes into the organization from many sources, but within Workfront, it gets centralized, assigned, resourced, and planned, using consistent checklists and project templates.

Leverage project templates to improve margin, quality and velocity

Workfront is different from tools such as Microsoft Project, SmartSheets and Monday.com because it allows you to leverage templates as checklists and project plans to ensure that the processes scale. It allows you to assign resources as well as report across projects, and even do scenario planning. Non-technical users can also setup approval workflows and reporting provides transparency across the organization to determine who is busy, and who can pitch in. Managers can plan work knowing that no matter who it’s assigned to, the quality can scale, and everyone knows what the outcomes should be.

2.    Layer in new business models with your existing ones

Introduce additional business models early in the process

Business model innovation is something that a lot of decision makers are not considering in their digital investments as early as they should. A business model at it’s core is the way you create, deliver and capture value, or said another way, it’s the reason customers pay you. Conversely, it’s not a way to save money.

There is more innovation happening here than just about anywhere else in digital transformation. Consider why Volvo introduced a new “subscription” model for drivers to “consume” their automobiles, and why would Panera introduce a new offering that encourages you to a “monthly subscription” for coffee.

Consider working with a trusted advisor to evaluate which of the 30 business models may be right for your organization

Beyond the subscription model, there are 2nd party data sharing agreements, and models to monetize data that are turning over entire industries.

Few leaders start out the digital transformation initiatives by attempting to disrupt or cannibalize the existing business; rather they try to accelerate the good things that are already working. With that in mind, if there is an awareness of potential business models from the beginning of the initiative, leaders can begin to conduct limited experiments and build with those in mind. For example, consider how the hospitality industry shares data with the rental car and aviation industry. Would a second-party data sharing agreement accelerate knowledge of customers?

Consider collaborating with a trusted advisor who tracks the 30 business models to conduct scenario planning to select the right portfolio.

3.    Build the Digital Foundation with customer data

Typically, employees understand the need for the organization to change the way it operates, but when asked if they are willing to change, they have a different take.

Effective leaders will communicate the need to keep the momentum by continuing to invest in their digital foundation. At the core of a digital transformation is customer data. It’s imperative that any stand-alone lists, excel documents, and emails find their way into a centralized data repository. While this may begin with getting everyone to populate a CRM system, it doesn’t stop there.

Open and deepen the lines of communication with your customers

You may need to invest in list building or other services that enrich your customer’s profile. You may consider launching a registration section on your website or establishing lines of communication with your customer base.

Enrich customer data so that you can later personalize digital experiences

Use voice of customer tools such as Jebbit or Opinion Lab to ask customers directly about their interests and to confirm their demographic information. Append data with 3rd party sources to gain insight into their interests and enable launching personalization at scale.

4.   Great digital experiences leverage design thinking

Lastly, great digital experiences aren’t accidents, they are meticulously constructed using modern design thinking best-practices. Design thinking methodologies tend to be thought of as in-person workshops in the conference room with a giant whiteboard. However, it’s possible to do design thinking workshops better remotely than done in person.

Successful leaders extract the best thinking from their teams using design thinking methodologies. They hire trusted advisors to serve as facilitators to accelerate the process. While most people think of Design Thinking as being done in workshops, nothing could be further from the truth.

 

Document design journeys and iterate the prototype

The design thinking process is best known for its workshops where a multi-disciplinary team jumps into a breakout room and emerges with a crude prototype.  But if the digital experience you’re working on is a value driver or cost driver of your business model, you have an opportunity to improve it using all of the power of design thinking. That means that you are documenting the “As-Is” customer experience and designing a future state. We like to use Smaply to do that.  From there, it’s important that you understand the data flows, the triggers and the enabling technologies that the builders require to architect and launch the customer journey.

Avoid pretty pictures in favor of actionable requirements that builders can deploy

Far too often, particularly when ad agencies are hired to facilitate the workshops, the deliverables tend to be pretty pictures made in tools such as Adobe Illustrator.  Instead, consider documenting customer journey maps that can quickly be turned in to business process maps. Design thinking is about quickly iterating and testing your prototypes. Organizations that walk out of the workshop with a customer experience that takes weeks or months to put into practice are not agile and will have a difficult time translating the business requirements to the builders of the experience, weeks after the creative process finished.

Bottom Line

Here are the four trends that thriving businesses will master in order to thrive in the new economy: 

  1. Make Work Frictionless

  2. Layer in new business models with your existing ones

  3. Build the Digital Foundation with customer data

  4. Great digital experiences leverage design thinking

Digital Transformation is difficult. These trends span internal operations, your customer data, your company culture, your company’s ecosystem of technical platforms and even the ways that you make money.

With so much to consider, it’s no wonder why so many digital transformations get stuck. Executives need to align the people, the processes, the platforms and the performance with the ability to leverage the company’s data readiness posture and the company’s agility posture. We typically assess your organization along 4 pillars of our model (the people, the process, platforms and performance) in terms of your ability leverage data (the data readiness posture), and how you execute (your agility posture). Our model is designed to accelerate digital initiatives and provide executives a deliberate and disciplined roadmap to reach the desired business outcomes.

With over 1,000 successful DX projects with publicly traded companies and large enterprises since 2004, we are trusted advisors to senior executives who are charged with creating the digital future. Contact us today to learn more about how we accelerate digital transformations.

[1] COVID-19 pandemic accelerated shift to e-commerce by 5 years, new report says | TechCrunch

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