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article imageQ&A: Digital transformation — The dangers of over-predicting Special

By Tim Sandle     Mar 25, 2020 in Business
When it comes to digital transformation, companies tend to focus too much on what's going to be the next big thing and commit themselves to a lot of heavy planning, according to Brian Levine of Mobiquity.
In terms of digital transformation projects, 73 percent of enterprises’ digital transformation efforts failed to provide any business value, according to an Everest Group study. With either doing too much or too little posing major dangers to a company's ability to successfully compete in an evolving market, businesses need to think carefully about their strategies.
To successfully implement a new tech strategy, companies need to move away from doing too much up front and move towards getting things out there in front of customers. From there they can use feedback, research and innovation to inform how to build the next iteration.
Brian Levine, VP Strategy & Analytics at digital consultancy Mobiquity, outlines the types of strategies that businesses should be considering.
Digital Journal: How important is digital transformation for businesses?
Brian Levine: Technology is evolving every day, making digital transformation more and more important for businesses. Our view is that companies are digitally transforming not just because they want to keep up with the latest tech, but because they want to connect with their customers, employees, and stakeholders in a more meaningful way. Implementing and enhancing digital technology is an ongoing process, but at the heart of this process is the customer experience. Are customers getting what they need from a brand? Is it easy?
At Mobiquity, we talk a lot with our clients about reducing customer effort. If companies can provide their customers with what they need, when they need it, they will reap the benefits of a loyal customer base. This is why digital transformation is so important for businesses – it’s the key to increasing brand awareness, creating great customer experiences, and propelling your business into the future.
Mobiquity has seen so many companies undergo amazing digital evolutions. From companies with little to no digital experience implementing full-blown corporate roadmaps, to banks creating mobile-only experiences, and food companies connecting with digital natives by giving them the ability to ask Alexa how to cook a turkey or walk them through a recipe. These industry leaders have carved the path to success for their teams and customers, and they haven’t looked back since – in fact, they continue to innovate and evolve as demand grows.
DJ: Why do some digital transformation projects fail? How much of this is down to ‘over-predicting’?
Levine: The larger the enterprise, the bigger they imagine their digital transformation has to be. Every department must be represented with the solution equally impacting them all. So, each department joins in creating their plans and projections for the transformation, with every element adding effort, complexity and ever higher expectations while simultaneously compounding error.
As the solution nears launch, and some of the assumptions prove false, the whole thing can start to crumble. Where smaller companies and projects can pivot to great success to solutions that learn from these errors, towering projects will simply fall.
Instead of representing every department, companies need to prioritize what they know will benefit the customer. They need to take on transformation in stages, each helping the customer in a large enough way to be meaningful while small enough to successfully pivot as the project yields new information. When executed well, this approach will benefit customers and modernize infrastructure while surfacing and taking advantage of opportunities that could not be seen when the projects started.
When it comes to digital transformation, companies sometimes fall into the trap of focusing too much on what's going to be “the next big thing” and commit themselves to heavy planning. In real terms, this could mean a lot of meetings and hours wasted talking about how to hop on the bandwagon. And with so many moving parts, it is very easy to run into major problems. By biting off more than they can chew and trying to predict everything, companies often fail to see results that match their high expectations. These companies will then abandon the project when they encounter a problem rather than make changes, simply because they believe “it's too big to change.” And at that point, it’s too late – budgets have been used up and customers suffer by not getting the experiences they expect from the brands they love.
If companies think it is easier to quit a major project rather than launch a solution piece-by-piece, their project is destined to fail.
It is so important to not overbuild and overthink. By thinking about transformation a few steps at a time, companies can focus on building the right solution at the right time for the right person. By breaking digital transformation down into smaller steps after outlining and aligning them to corporate goals, companies can validate their small successes over time and get buy-in to continue building out their journey from there. This is how leading companies set themselves up for success.
DJ: How can agile software solutions aid companies?
Levine:It really goes beyond an agile approach to the software; companies should be taking an agile approach to their strategy and roadmap development and flow that through all aspects of planning and development, These approaches chisel away at the overall digital strategy while also preparing for what’s next. We are trying to help clients move away from the kind of heavy planning that comes at the expense of sound execution, and move them toward getting solutions out there in front of customers. Once the solution is out there, companies can receive feedback that will inform how to build the next iteration.
For example, maybe you’re a convenience store looking to expand your mobile app while also boosting customer loyalty. I’d recommend building out phase one of the program by enabling users to scan a loyalty QR code at the time of purchase. Once the data shows that users have adopted this practice, then you can plan and launch phase two, where you start to offer a personalized loyalty program. You know that John Smith buys lattes and not cappuccinos, so you reward him for buying more lattes on a Monday, even though his buying pattern shows he typically buys lattes over the weekend.
This process consists of building strategy software products, assessing reviews, and crunching the data to figure out end user frustrations. This issue discovery can feed directly into the product roadmap, resulting in more rapid changes. Organizations should not try to overpredict; it is much more beneficial to take things one chunk at a time rather than laying out a full 5-year plan.
DJ: What is necessary for a robust digital transformation strategy?
Levine:It starts with finding your friction. Frictions are the problems that businesses face, and we’ve helped our clients find their friction by providing a third-party view. We can help you uncover how your digital solutions are performing against others in the same industry, conduct interviews with your clients and stakeholders, and provide you with the research, data, and knowledge that is required to figure out where to start as you consider embarking on a digital transformation journey. Whether you’re creating a mobile app, voice skill, chatbot, artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) model, moving to the cloud, or something in between, the right digital partner can help you navigate where to start, how to communicate the change, and maintain your brand along the way.
A robust strategy also takes into account every aspect of the digital lifecycle. From strategy, to design, engineering, customer experience, and analytics, your partner should have a strong team that encompasses all of these functions to ensure that your program is seamless from start to finish.
DJ: What services does Mobiquity offer?
Levine: Mobiquity is a digital consultancy that partners with the world's leading brands to design and deliver compelling digital products and services for their customers. Its approach balances human needs with usefully applied technology, unbound creativity with research and analytics, and agile development with strict engineering and security standards. Mobiquity’s end-to-end services consider every dimension of a digital business from marketing to IT, providing strategy, experience design, product engineering, cloud services and analytics.
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