DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

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Digital transformation means different things to different people – for me as well, the meaning of Digital Transformation has evolved in the past few years.

In the early years, Digital Transformation was a buzzword used to describe any business-IT project, a website or a mobile application. In the last few years the terms used in the digital space are becoming even more confusing with people using digital strategy, digital business and digital marketing interchangeably. These categories, while similar, are different; and to understand the differences and similarities we need to understand a few key trends in the market today:

  • Today we are seeing lines between business consulting and agency work blurring, we are also seeing that technology plays an integral role in shaping business strategy and decisions. There is a gap in skills in the industry where overlapping skills are needed i.e. we need tech-savvy marketers and strategic technologists.
  • Consulting firms have spent years working with chief executive officers and chief information officers on tasks ranging from developing high-end business strategies to implementing new technology. Now, they are increasingly targeting the chief marketing officer as the marketing segment of the C-suite is becoming more responsible for the overall customer experience.

Given this backdrop, it is clear that Digital Marketing and Digital Business are two sides of the Digital Transformation coin, where one is incomplete without the other. To elaborate a little further:

Relationship Marketing is a term often used in Digital Marketing to mean ‘being able to understand customer segments’. Typical tools used to identify customer segments are journey maps, job shadowing, ‘day in the life’, market research etc. These tools are used in Digital Business as well to understand the customer, create personas etc. but the context is different; the context is influenced by complex interdependencies between people, process, policies and technologies to build a common vision and vocabulary of the customer within an organization, they are used to uncover customer interactions and pain points across all channels and are key to solving the ‘right’ problem. It is worth noting that by overlaying the customer journey maps with specific business goals such as improving productivity and efficiency or increasing customer engagement and loyalty, we can not only identify  ‘new’ problems but also define ‘new’ solutions to old problems. More details are available at Niti Vaish’s blog and at Kerry Bodine’s blog.

Understanding the customer and business priorities through the lens of customer experience require a ‘new breed’ of innovators who understand the ‘convergence’ of customer experience, business / digital strategy and technology

Metrics – most marketers think of SEO and SEM when discussing metrics, while these metrics are important, they don’t paint a holistic picture if they don’t tie back to business goals. With every mobile, social and web initiative it is critical to identify the ‘the behaviors that need to change’, metrics that map to these behaviors and the process and tools available to measure and track these metrics. It is a top priority to take a measured, cohesive approach to paid social’s place in the overall business and marketing strategy – and budget.

And most important of all, Culture and Skillset – organizations require leaders with business-technology skills, innovative mindset and new organization models that understand the need for convergence of business, technology and marketing. These high-performing, experienced individual with a knack for identifying business and technology process improvement opportunities and simplifying interfaces, make the difference between project success and failure because of their judgement and ability to understand data patterns.

In this brave new world ‘Every Brand is a Media Company and Every Brand is a Technology Company’ – its time to think big and be transformative.

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Resolutions for 2016

The end of the year often is a time to look back at what we’ve accomplished and a time to evaluate what’s next in line for the New Year. While we might be happy and fulfilled in our careers and truly love what we do, we continue to constantly seek advice to further grow in our professional lives.

My resolutions for 2016:

  1. Seize the opportunity to build something bigger than ourselves, something worth contributing to, to make connections, to lend a hand, to invent and create.
  2. Do my best work followed by best work followed by more best work – this is far more useful and generous than merely doing our best work once and insisting we are understood.
  3. Play for the long haul. Take the more difficult route. Surround myself with people who insist I avoid the shortcut.
  4. Write to make a difference.
  5. Be more flexible in my thoughts  – change, actual change, is hard work. And changing our own minds is the most difficult place to start.
  6. Keep in mind that everything I do is either going to raise my average or lower it.

My Wishlist, Must-Haves and Some Predictions for 2014

 

1. MDM is Not Just for Large Organizations – Ever felt helpless when you know your kid(s) have sneaked in the smartphone / tablet and are playing video games under the comforter in the night?  Enter Mobile Device Management (MDM) for parents! the MDM platform will allow you to block URL’s, find your child, track activity, have a family app store and control when devices are used.  While it may seem a little big-brother like, better safe than sorry. Can’t wait to get this soon enough! http://www.zdnet.com/mdm-for-parents-you-want-it-too-7000022292/.

2. Car of the Future – At a time when we are experimenting with driverless cars and connected cars http://www.citeworld.com/consumerization/22717/your-car-will-be-big-data-collector-every-time-you-drive why is it that having a holder with a built-in charger for my smartphone which seamlessly projects to the screen in the car and allows me to listen to Pandora through the car speakers is not mainstream, but part of a ‘technology package’ which requires an extra fee and has a clunky interface?  Imagine this for the car of the future – as I sit in the drivers seat, the car knows its me driving instead of my husband – the seat, mirrors, temperature,seat warmers, music channels automatically adjust, my smartphone connects seamlessly and greets me personally, I speak and tell it where I am going and turn-by-turn navigation map displays on the car screen. Its not too far-fetched and very doable … the key is having ‘connected ecosystems’. 

3. Future of Streaming Content :  Netflix – please,please improve the content in 2014. The best userinterface http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/13/netflix-redesign_n_4262877.html, multi-channel experience and search algorithm will not keep users on Netflix. If content is not improved in 2014 and you may just drive us to using Amazon Instant, Redbox Instant or whatever is the latest streaming content platform.  Also please buy rights in other countries, we feel a little lost without our daily dose of movies and shows when we travel.

 4. One Integrated System to Manage Social Content : Have one integrated system to manage posting content, replies, notifications and engagement across various social sites such as  LinkedIn, Facebook, WordPress, Twitter, Quora (does anyone still use this??), Google+, Medium with an easy-to-use interface,  and groups / security / authentication / profiles working seamlessly across these systems.  

 5. Wearable Technology and Digital Health – will it always be 5 years away? Is there a market for it?  There has been a lot of talk about smart watches and smart glasses making the frontier of wearable tech. Bloomberg is even talking about a smart wig! http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-26/sony-seeks-smartwig-patent-for-hairpieces-with-camera-sensors.html. Agreed that prototypes available today like Goggle Glass make us look a little dorky and don’t seamlessly fit in with our current lifestyle. Activity trackers are a good start but until FDA relaxes its stringent guidelines they will simply be dumb trackers of our activity and not elevated to intelligent devices which can predict (as an example) the onset of a heart-attack and inform the doctor in advance http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=r13uYs7jglg. That being said I do believe that wearable Technology and Digital Health will go mainstream PROVIDED we are able to create ‘connected ecosystems’ and integrate ‘systems of record’ with ‘systems of engagement’ which in-turn will improve the overall experience.

6. Rise of the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) : Progressive companies will realize role differentiation between CMO, CIO and CDO. The CMO will drive brand management and communications, the CIO will focus on technology selection and deployment and the CDO will be responsible for identifying trends and impact of business – technology convergence, creating digital capabilities roadmap and identifying convergence and integration opportunities.

It Takes More Than Blood, Sweat and Tears to Start a Digital Practice

Over the last several years I have learned a thing or two about what it takes to start and sustain a digital practice – I have joined companies to start their Digital Practice as well as started my own Digital Practice and along the way I have made assumptions (often incorrectly), not asked the ‘right’ questions and taken missteps. Hopefully this post will help you assess the opportunity as you look to start your own Digital Practice or join one. 
 

1. What is Digital Strategy?

If you are reading this post you have probably heard your fair share of definitions for Digital Strategy, here is mine – “Digital Strategy is building holistic multi-channel strategies to drive business growth and productivity by aligning business and technology initiatives, defining governance models and best practices, establishing a digital center of excellence, identifying convergence, integration and process changes – all geared towards personalizing the experience for the ‘connected’ customer and advancing self-service opportunities”. I’ll be the first to admit that the definition is a mouthful and  it will continue to evolve overtime, however in my perspective it  captures the ‘what’, ‘how’, ‘whom’ and ‘why’ of digital strategy.
 
 

 2. Is the Sales Team On-Board?

Is the sales team committed to the idea of seeking out  digital strategy projects and are they adequately incentivized to sell projects that will typically be priced lower than  the  average implementation / vendor management / business process project. If the sales team is not engaged it is almost impossible for a digital practice to thrive because “Old Ways Will Not Open New Doors”. We cannot ‘dress-up’ software development and start selling it as ‘Digital Strategy’ to the same clients – we need to be tenacious and seek out new clients and find new ways to sell. To use a line from Godin Seth’s post “Tenacity is using new data to make new decisions to find new pathways to find new ways to achieve a goal when the old ways didn’t work” http://bit.ly/17DpTuw 
 

3) Does the Account Team at the Client Site Understand Digital Strategy? 

It is very likely that while the client is looking for Digital Strategy skills, the position is NOT advertised as a ‘Digital Strategy’ position – the team at the client site will need to understand the ‘true needs’ and advise the client on hiring someone with business, technology, process and innovation background who is equipped to ask the ‘right’ questions and connect the dots to successfully align business and technology roadmaps and prioritize opportunities in the mobile, social, web and streaming media space.

4) Where Does Digital Strategy Fit in the Company Functional Organization?

Does the company consider Digital Strategy to be the same as business strategy, IT strategy, marketing strategy or perhaps even creative strategy? Is there a turf war within the organization on who owns digital? The company will need to recognize that digital (including mobile and social) are horizontal capabilities and while rest of the organization might be organized by function, digital capability need to span functional silos. At a more tactical level this will also determine staffing for digital projects.
 

5) Is There a Go-To Market Strategy?

Is there consensus within the organization on a go-to market strategy which clearly describes a plan for acquiring digital customers as well as converting existing clients into digital clients (if possible)? Is there consensus within the organization on the approach that will be followed, marketing collateral that will be used, percentage of the overall company revenue that come from digital initiatives and the plan to grow this percentage? To build the Go-To Market Strategy it takes someone who can clearly articulate the impact of ‘going digital’ and can advise on convergence of business and technology. Additional details on the impact of ‘going digital’ are available on my blog post http://bit.ly/17DpTuw.
 
6) Digital Strategy is not “One Size Fits All”
 
Digital strategy is not “One Size Fits All” – it needs to be carefully crafted for the client by understanding the business direction, technology constraints, best practices in the industry, competitive landscape and most importantly the company culture. The tools, mechanics, methodology to create a digital strategy can be reused from one client to another but it takes true partnership to craft a digital vision for a client which will result in an actionable roadmap rather than a document that never gets looked at.
 
 
Leave a comment, start a discussion, make a noise … after all we are in the hot seat and poised to shape the future of business and technology!
 

Driving Business Growth, Priorities and Engagement through Customer Experience

BACKGROUND

Forrester recently released a book ‘ Outside In : The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business’. The book highlights that customer experience is the greatest untapped source of cost savings and increased revenue today. Additionally customer experience strategies can drive differentiating activities and processes at top companies. Forrester also discuss how to design and measure enterprise-wide customer experience.

As mobile and social are quickly becoming new channels for customer acquisition, engagement and service, many brands are looking to social and digital channels as a means to better understand customer interactions with the brand across multiple channels and touch points.

Also as the use of mobile and social channels increases exponentially, it is becoming critical that brands are able to create a 360-degree customer view by aggregating data from each one of these interactive channels. Without drawing from all touch-points, brands fail to have a holistic understanding of the consumer and run the risk of presenting disjointed messaging to the consumer as they visit the brand from a diverse number of channels.

CHALLENGE

How can we help our customers service their customers? How can we increase customer engagement and loyalty with the brand?How do we ensure that we are solving the right problem?

SOLUTION

When is Customer Experience the Right Approach? If the answer to the questions below is ‘NO’ then customer experience is the right approach to drive business priorities – are you able to pinpoint the customer’s painpoints? Are you addressing the pain they feel? Does everyone in the organization have a clear picture of the processes customers go through when interacting with the organization?

Are we Solving the Right Problem?: A common vision and vocabulary within an organization of the customer’ and ‘customer interactions’, across all channels is key to solving the ‘right’ problem. It is worth noting that by overlaying the customer journey maps with specific business goals such as improving productivity and efficiency of the sales force or increasing customer engagement and loyalty, we can not only identify  ‘new’ problems but also define ‘new’ solutions to old problems.

 Have we Identified the Right Opportunities? : Identify the ‘right’ opportunities by mapping customer interactions across channels and touchpoints and identifying highlights and lowlights by focusing on complex interdependencies between people, process and tools.

Have we Prioritized the Opportunities? : Once the opportunities across all channels have been identified, shared and verified by internal business stakeholders, they need to be collaboratively prioritized based on factors such as business impact and risk weighed against cost and effort.

APPROACH

Customer Experience Approach

User Centered Design Approach

Key Considerations:

Ensure Executive Sponsorship: The stakeholders selected as part of the steering committee typically span lines of businesses (LOB).  Since journey maps visualize ‘end-to-end’ interactions, multiple departments and stakeholders get involved in the discovery process hence leadership commitment is crucial to drive decision making across LOBs and for the success of a customer experience engagement.

Select Key Customer Segments: To obtain a good cross-section of interviewees it is critical to identify customer variability across several dimensions. As an example, for the sales force variability could be based on region, tenure, role and the type of customer the sales person services. It is also important to create a 360 degree view of the customer by creating a touchpoint mapand interviewing all teams within the organization that the customer interacts with.

Create Discussion Guide: The discussion guide should be tailored to the audience and aligned with business objectives.

Conduct Interviews: drill-down to the root cause, discuss what-if scenarios, best practices and current initiatives within the organization.

Create Customer Journey Maps: : Identify people, process, tools and technologies that affect the customer journey

Create Prioritization Matrix: collaborate with stakeholders to get a common view of the business impact and prioritization of the initiatives

Create Business Case / Enable Experience: Visualize the experience for one or more key areas by creating process flow and conceptual wireframes

BENEFITS

Truly understanding customer behavior, interactions, positive and negative experiences can lead to the following benefits:

Identify New ‘Niche’ Customer Segments – Just because people share some similar characteristics such as age and gender (e.g. female in the age group 35 – 45) does not imply that they share the same passions and interests. Understanding customer behavior, motivators and interactions will help to deeply engage with them and identify needs of the ‘niche’ customer segments which can drive development of personalized experiences which motivate customers to change behaviors.

Deliver Targeted, Personalized Content and Advertising – Moving beyond ‘likes’ and ‘follows’ – integrating back-end data sources, structured and unstructured data to create a 360 degree of the customer  can provide a wealth of information for improving customer understanding and targeting them with personalized content.

Increase Customer Loyalty – Customer loyalty and satisfaction can be improved by creating a 360 degree view of the customer and gaining deeper insights into existing customer segments as well as discovering new customer segments by developing a multi-channel strategy and aggregating data across mobile, social and digital channels.

CONCLUSIONS

The key to building applications which drive business growth and improve customer engagement lies in identifying a new breed of business leaders who understand the importance of customer experience and evaluating organizational readiness to deal with the impact of digital innovation.

Companies can truly understand the ‘empowered’ customer and build applications which transform the business by creating a common view of the customer (customer segments) across the organization by mastering behavioral, business and emotional context. Behavioral context measures engagement and propensity to buy, business context identifies business drivers and how to generate customer value differentiation and finally emotional context measures sentiment, customer preference and perceived value.

Deep-Dive into Multi-Channel Customer Intelligence

Background

As mobile and social are quickly becoming new channels for customer acquisition, engagement and service, many brands across the board are looking to social and digital channels as a way to increase their customer knowledge and understanding through multiple customer touch-points.

As the use of social channels increases exponentially, it is critical that brands are able to create a 360-degree customer view by aggregating data from each one of these interactive channels. Without drawing from all touch-points, brands fail to have a holistically understanding of their consumer and run the risk of presenting disjointed messaging to their consumer as they visit the brand from a diverse number of channels.

Despite the availability of brand monitoring tools (e.g. Radian 6, Alterian and Scout Labs) and brand analytics tools (e.g. Crimson Hexagon, Crowd Factory, SAS and Oracle), brands face the challenge of trying to close the gap between aggregating data from diverse channels and drawing actionable business insights. In order to turn observation into business advantage, feedback mechanisms need to be created to channel insights towards product improvement, business process improvement and trend recognition.

The Challenge

Harnessing the power of big data to drive business and organizational decisions is not without challenges.

Real-time analytics: Recent statistics demonstrate how high the volume of Twitter data really is – Twitter is seeing around 155,000,000 tweets per day, at about 2500 bytes on average for each tweet and about 35 Mb per second – handling the immense amount of data at a sustained rate is a challenge. Also, gathering real-time analytics is made more difficult because of signal-to-noise ratio. Twitter is especially hard given the high rates at which tweets are created and the minuscule number of those tweets that are relevant to a campaign.

Sentiment Analysis: Sentiment Analysis is about the meaning of the content. Knowing the sentiment (positive, negative or neutral) is a good start, but not enough. The data needs to be analyzed to derive improvement opportunities such as ideas for product innovation and business process improvement. The process of mining data is additionally difficult since the human interaction component cannot be completely eliminated.

Solutions

Many companies are trying to get hip on how to tackle the problem of harnessing excessive amounts of data spread across multiple customer touch points. As companies mature their social programs, they can progress through a variety of stages. Companies who are in the earlier stages of social maturity such as Gatorade are focusing their efforts on listening. Gatorade has created a “mission control center” which is staffed by employees who monitor Twitter and Facebook, 24 hours a day.

Other companies such as SAP have long been monitoring and interacting with their employees and customers via social community sites. SAP’s Senior Vice President Mark Yolton has spoken extensively about his 8+ years of experience using the Social Monitoring tool Jive, which has helped SAP form several social communities both internal and external to the company. The SAP Community Network is used to drive social innovation, commerce, intelligence and social insight. Mark champions that biggest benefit SAP has gained by creating these communities is around ‘Customer Intimacy’ – aggregating and analyzing customer data that allows them to create a 360-degree view of their customers wants, needs and actions which helps SAP understand and interact with more effectively.

At the more experienced end, are companies like Dell who use media channel to engage with consumers and drive sales. Dell has more than 9000 employees trained in social media, a ‘Chief Listening Officer’ and a twitter handle @DellCares which resolves 98% of Twitter reported support requests. Dell’s BI solution is available on a smartphone or tablet, provides up-to-the-minutes sales data and customer intelligence and suggests next actions for front-line service personnel.

Benefits

The analysts at Forrester have coined a term ‘Social Intelligence’ which is defined as the process and use cases for harnessing social media data to inform your business strategy. It involves monitoring social media, collecting and analyzing the content, and using the insights to inform your strategy.

The true benefit of aggregating structured data (weblogs, social CRM, application data) and unstructured data (social applications such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, customer comments and product reviews) is being able to derive actionable insights. Additionally brands need toprovide a feedback mechanism to channel these insights for product improvement, business process improvement and trend analysis.

Aggregating and analyzing data across channels provides the following additional benefits:

Identify New ‘Niche’ Customer Segments – Just because people share some similar characteristics such as age and gender (e.g. female in the age group 35 – 45) does not imply that they share the same passions and interests. Building a community of loyal followers, deeply engaging with them and actively listening and participating will help to identify new niche customer segments.

Deliver Targeted, Personalized Content and Advertising – The future of competitive advantage lies in managing and analyzing all the critical data entering a business environment. Data which provides user preference and location information such as product reviews, check-ins, ratings etc. collected across the mobile, social and digital channels provides a wealth of information for improving customer understanding and targeting them with personalized content.

Increase Customer Loyalty – Customer loyalty and satisfaction can be improved by creating a 360 degree view of the customer and gaining deeper insights into existing customer segments as well as discovering new customer segments by developing a multi-channel strategy and aggregating data across mobile, social and digital channels.

Conclusions

Drawing business insights such as determining ‘top performing regions’ or ‘top influences’ can be accomplished relatively easily by aggregating and analyzing structured and unstructured data, however, the hard part is in drawing subjective business insights such as determining ‘product improvement ideas’ or ‘future trends’.

The key to successful subjective analysis is in empowering and training the personnel at various customer touch points to ask probing questions of customers and flag answers which require deeper analysis. Flagging specific ‘key data points’ will allow actionable nuggets of information to be highlighted and stand apart from the sea of information.

Additionally, forming a deep relationship between people interfacing with customers at multiple touch-points such as social media channels, customer service channels, websites etc. and subject matter experts, such as product managers and designers who are within an organization, will allow for business insights and relevant data to be captured in ‘real-time’ rather than ‘after the fact’, which will lead to better understanding of customer behavior and opinions.

Multi-Channel Customer Intelligence

Background

As mobile and social are quickly becoming new channels for customer acquisition, customer engagement, delivering customer service and generating additional revenue streams, many brands in retail, hospitality, health care, media and financial services are using mobile, social and digital channels as multiple customer touch-points.

With the exponential growth of these channels, it is critical that brands are able to create a 360 degree customer view by aggregating data from these interactive channels. Without holistically understanding the consumer, brands run the risk of not being able to personalize the messaging for the consumer as they visit the brand from a diverse number of channels.  Despite the availability of brand monitoring tools (e.g. Radian 6, Alterian and Scout Labs) and brand analytics tools (e.g. Crimson Hexagon, Crowd Factory, SAS and Oracle), brands face the challenge of closing the gap between aggregating data from diverse channels and drawing actionable business insights. Additionally a feedback mechanism needs to be created to channel these insights towards product improvement, business process improvement or trend recognition.

The Challenge

Harnessing the power of data and analytics to drive business decisions and organizational decisions is not without challenges.

Real-time analytics: Real-time analytics is hard because of signal-to-noise ratio. Twitter is especially hard given the high rates at which tweets are created and the minuscule number of those tweets that are relevant to a campaign.

Sentiment Analysis: Sentiment Analysis is about the meaning of the content. Knowing the sentiment (positive, negative or neutral) is good but not enough. The data needs to be analyzed to derive improvement opportunities e.g. product innovation ideas, business process improvement etc. Additionally the human interaction component cannot be completely eliminated. 

Benefits

The true benefit of aggregating structured data from weblogs, social CRM, application data and unstructured data from social applications such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, customer comments and product reviews is being able to derive actionable insights. Additionally brands need to provide a feedback mechanism to channel these insights for product improvement, business process improvement and trend analysis.

Aggregating and analyzing data across channels provides the following additional benefits:

Identify New ‘Niche’ Customer Segments – People who share the same characteristics (e.g. female in the age group 35 – 45) does not imply that they share they share the same passions and interests. Building a community of loyal followers, deeply engaging with them and actively listening and participating will help to identify new niche customer segments.

Deliver Targeted, Personalized Content and Advertising – The future of competitive advantage lies in managing and analyzing all the critical data entering a business environment. Data which provides user preference and location information such as product reviews, check-ins, ratings etc. collected across the mobile, social and digital channels provides a wealth of information in improving our understanding of our customers and targeting them with personalized content.
 
Increase Customer Loyalty – Customer loyalty and satisfaction can be improved by creating a 360 degree view of the customer and gaining deeper insights into existing customer segments as well as discovering new customer segments by developing a multi-channel strategy and aggregating data across mobile, social and digital channels.  
 
Solution
 
Drawing business insights such as determining ‘top performing regions’ or ‘top influences’ can relatively easily be accomplished by aggregating and analyzing structured and unstructured data, however,  the hard part is in drawing subjective business insights such as determining ‘product improvement ideas’ or ‘future trends’. The key to successful subjective analysis is in empowering and training the personnel at  various customer touch points to ask probing questions of customers and flag answers which require deeper analysis. Flagging answers will allow nuggets of information flagged as ‘key data points’ to be highlighted and not get lost in the sea of information.  Additionally forming a deep relationship between people interfacing with customers at multiple touch-points such as social media channels, customer service channels, website etc. and subject matter experts such as product managers and designers who are within an organization will allow for business insights to be captured in ‘real-time’ rather than ‘after the fact’.