Are you ready for the 2nd wave of digital transformation?

OPINION / 30th August 2016

Three tips on how senior marketers can prepare their organisations for the next wave of digital transformation. 

According to PWC’s annual CEO survey (in 2015) more than a third of business leaders were concerned about a new technology-led competitor from outside their sector stealing market share.

And who can blame them? In a digitally-enabled world where the world’s largest taxi firm (Uber) owns no taxis and the world’s largest accommodation provider (AirBnB) owns no rooms, it’s easy to think your industry could be the next one being disrupted. And with that brings falling revenues and diminishing market share.

Uber and AirBnB are at the forefront of what is being coined the ‘second wave’ of digital transformation, a movement that is being fuelled by digital-savvy millennials, who (according to PWC) will own 50% of the UK’s investable wealth by 2020. 

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Interestingly, the second wave is less about digitising existing processes, which was at the core of the ‘first wave’ which started 10 years ago. It’s about using digital to literally reinvent the business process, customer experience and, even, the business model itself.

Uber’s success hasn’t just been about “getting good at digital”.
It’s brilliance is in integrating several different digital technologies into a simple end-to-end customer journey, with your profile and payment details stored securely, for simple frictionless payment. It also developed a real-time marketplace model with the ability to bid for sliding fares depending on speed, availability and level of service required.

Fuelling this second transformation wave are a number
at themes: the successful application of big data to anticipate customer behaviours; and personalisation of the entire customer experience by combining declared, undeclared and location-based information; the application of artificial intelligence to support or even replace physical customer support. And, finally, the merging of digital customer experience, sales and back-office applications into one, single business view.

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You need only look at the recent launch of bot technology by to see that the role of the traditional website and app may also be coming to an end. Users can now interact via a conversation thread to arrange their arrival time direct with their hotel, and they will also soon be able to see recommendations for what to do on their trip. 

To successfully navigate the challenges of digital disruption, a change of mindset is essential. And that includes senior managers, who are increasingly put in charge  of defining a business’ strategic digital priorities, according to E-Consultancy. 

Whilst there isn’t any magic bullet to prepare for the aforementioned second wave, here are a few pointers that will enable senior execs to be better prepared:

1) Think about your business objectives and how digital can make them a reality. Get a digital strategy in place that aligns
to these goals.

According to a recent Rackspace/Forrester
survey 81% of executives said they had a digital strategy in place, but only 61% were able to measure its business success. In short, having a strategy is not enough: it needs to be aligned and universally understood.

2)  Get company-wide buy-in for digital

According to the Harvard Business Review, in July 2016, up to 84% of digital transformations fail. The most common reason is
lack of buy-in, not just from senior team members, but by employees who feel the process is being ‘done to them’. The marketing  of transformation internally is often as important as the plan itself.

3) Data is at the heart of any contextual second wave journey. Decide what data you want to capture and work over time to stitch your data sources together.

According to the Annual Experian Marketing survey
2016 81% of marketers have challenges with achieving a single customer view; 56% of C-suite executives say their top priority is integrating technology to automate and manage cross-channel customer interactions in order to anticipate customer needs. And, finally, 45% want to able to accurately track and allocate channel revenue based on data-driven insight.

Sort answers to these three challenges, and your organisation will be in a far better shape to embrace the challenges of the ‘second wave’ of digital transformation.

Andy Farmer Andy Farmer Executive Director, Strategy Andy Farmer