9th September 2021
One thing the last 18 months has taught us is that we live in an uncertain world. None of us knows what normality will look like in the future, the world has become less predictable, and people’s habits and behaviours have and will continue to change.
I think digital has become more important than ever in these unpredictable times. We’ve all read a myriad of articles about COVID accelerating digital transformation and channel shift. Interestingly customers have less loyalty in digital, and will compare digital experience to experiences they know and love rather than to competitors in the same space. Customers will happily shift to another brand without a second thought rather than persevering with a difficult experience.
Keeping up with changing demands and behaviours can be difficult. Responsibility for different parts of the customer experience and different data sets often reside in different parts of an organisation, creating silo’s that make it challenging to create a connected experience. And every organisation has finite resources as well as technical and operational boundaries. All this means it’s not always easy for you to reprioritise and pivot.
I think the organisations that will not just survive but thrive in the new normal will be the ones that can adapt to meet changing needs. Organisations that are able to do this have realised there are a few key elements needed to make it work.
Firstly, the most important element in the majority of organisations is people. No one knows everything in digital. We need to look through multiple lenses to make sure we understand not only the changing market or customer need, but also the impact on the business, alongside any technical or operational constraints. This means building multi-disciplinary teams with the knowledge and skills to look through these different lenses in order to design a digital solution that the business can deliver - and is attractive to their customers. Your organisation might not have the right people and skills, but partners can obviously help as a long term strategy or in the short term to fill gaps and help upskill.
Bringing experienced people partners into your organisation can also help with the second key element - embedding agile ways of working. While this does include an element of process and workflow, at heart it is a cultural challenge. This makes it a huge change for organisations. Moving to an agile mindset needs top down support to make sure that your people have the right environment, are empowered to get on with the job without obstructions, and have the right tools and methods to pivot quickly when needed.
One of our banking clients, based in the US, was able to quickly pivot our team from building new products to digitising existing services once branches closed during COVID. We were able to do this together because we had skilled teams, following agile product design methods, who were empowered to design and build solutions in the quickest, most effective way, within their current technical and operating environment. This allowed the bank to quickly change tack, getting their digitised service to market much faster than their competition.
The third element to consider is technology. The optimal solution is to have the flexibility and scalability that composable architecture provides when building and integrating digital experiences. Within this architecture we need unified data to provide a single source of insight and to drive personalisation, alongside unified content management for easier building and optimisation of experiences across the digital estate. This approach also allows organisations to choose which parts of the stack best meet their needs (rather than choosing a single supplier for the whole platform). Using APIs allows the integration of legacy technology, so you can continue to realise value from those investments. This plug and play type approach gives great flexibility, as teams can create and optimise experiences through component reuse without the need to code everything from scratch. Ultimately allowing you to get to market quicker, and deliver operational efficiencies, through a single composable tech stack that is serving all channels.
We built a platform to provide marketing, journey planning and ticketing information, using a composable architecture, for one of our transport clients. The decoupled CMS serves components and personalised content throughout the customer journey across different channels. This new digital experience, launched during COVID, met new and unexpected demand for customers to go cashless, provided a significant channel shift, and has allowed us to continue to quickly evolve and adapt the experience as we learn more about customers.
To thrive in the future I believe organisations need to learn to adapt to changing customer behaviours, and be able to reprioritise and pivot quickly. Or else they run the risk of those very hard earned customers switching to a competitor who has already figured out how to give them what they want. There is obviously no silver bullet here - but those who are thriving have learned that success comes from multi-skilled teams, using agile ways of working, building and optimising experiences using an open, composable and scalable tech stack to quickly adapt and pivot to meet forever changing customer needs and behaviours.
Get it touch if you'd like to talk about any of the examples or topics we've covered in this article.