After committing to a customer focus, businesses must explore how IT can make the digital business transformation occur for both external- and internal-facing clients. The IT department and specialised consultants have the ability to move the business forward by modernising core systems through the use of new and emerging technologies, beefing up security and updating or replacing legacy solutions.
Digital at scale is defined differently by every business sector. But the one thing in common to all is the need to use technology to improve how the customer experience is delivered, whether it is customer-facing or behind the scenes. This could mean an improved shopping cart experience for an online retailer or a highly-secure app for a bank. Both experiences live in the mobile sphere, where many searches and purchases occur in today’s digital world. A recent Google study found 89% of people will recommend a brand if the mobile experience is positive.
The quality of the behind-the-scenes IT integration largely is responsible for a consumer’s impression of the experience: the site must load quickly; there must be high-quality images and video; and timely customer service options.
Digital Business Transformation Defined
Digital transformation is the front, middle and back operations of any business. There are customer-facing operations. And operations the customer never sees, but which can positively impact them and the business.
These areas are:
- The front encompasses the digital business and includes interactive, connected products and analytics
- The middle covers the operations that keep the business moving forward and that the customer never sees, such as software platforms and process automation
- The back contains the systems and technologies that keep a business humming and relevant, including IT security, engineering and modernization through the transformation of legacy systems
In McKinsey’s Digital @ Scale, the authors describe the idea of “establishing an ‘amoeba’ IT and organisational foundation that learns and evolves.” An “amoeba IT” organisation grows, adapts and changes shape over time. This type of IT organism has the ability to respond quickly to customer demands by rolling out new ways to create user-friendly interactions with the company to drive engagement and, ultimately, sales. A flexible IT organisation helps create positive customer experiences.
Online Experience Can Drive Offline Sales
And a positive user experience and feeling translates into more sales on and offline, according to Google’s research. That’s right, even sales in brick-and-mortar businesses get a boost from positive, IT-influenced online capabilities. Google reports that mobile-based shoppers are more than “2.3 times as likely to make an in-store purchase” compared to other devices. While many consumers regularly use retail shops for “showrooming,” a new contingent of buyers is actually interested in using the online experience to inform offline purchases. And companies are taking advantage of the online experience to drive new and returning customers to stores in the real world.
Take, for instance, the hip eyewear retailer Warby Parker, which began its life as an online-only retailer. The company’s use of technology has allowed it to move from the purely digital world to the physical world by building retail shops around the country. By owning both ends (online and offline) of the customer experience, the company helps customers experience their products before buying, negating the disastrous financial effects of showrooming. Companies built on the internet like Warby Parker have a distinct advantage compared to legacy concerns: Starting from scratch today allows companies to organise and integrate technology into all aspects of operations. It is, of course, more difficult to do if the business has existed for many years and advanced IT implementations through cobbled-together solutions brought together over many years. But it is not impossible. In fact, traditional stores that roll out a full digital experience may have an advantage because of their existing real-world stores if they can quickly move to improve the online experience.
Increasingly, retail store foot traffic starts with the online experience, which is predicated on exceptional IT proficiency. Sometimes these skills are available within an organisation, but many times companies must look outside the four walls of the business to find the latest thinking about and ways to attract new and legacy customers.
The Cost of Standing Still
No matter where a business lands on the technology continuum, it will need to approach technology as an “individual.” Will it:
- build a resilient and nimble IT infrastructure
- bring in IT services consultants; or
- some combination of the two?
These are the ways to ensure digital at scale succeeds in any business setting. As technology continues to advance and competitors take advantage of it, the organizations that lag in adoption will face serious questions about long-term viability.
The only one thing that is certain: Doing nothing is not an option.
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