What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of digital transformation? For the CIO or CTO, digital transformation may refer to the adoption of advanced technology. A CEO or CMO may associate digital transformation with the modernization of operations. Despite varying interpretations, there is a common thread in digital transformation that involves addressing the question of -- how do I transition from what I have now to where I would like to be?
A recent article published by the Harvard Business Review (HBR), explores four pillars of successful digital transformation: IT uplift, digitizing operations, digital marketing, and new ventures. The authors describe how the second pillar, digitizing operations, is a fundamental part of the transformation journey. It involves using digital tools, such as AI, machine learning, and 5G, to optimize business processes and accelerate growth. For example, a bank that traditionally manages transactions in person may digitize operations by creating a platform for customers to deposit checks via web or mobile app.
I agree with the authors that digitizing operations can lead to various benefits including 1) cost reduction, 2) efficiency, and 3) optimization. For instance, with more transactions being handled online, a bank can reduce costs and increase efficiency by staffing fewer employees at each branch.
Building upon the authors’ points in the HBR article, I’d like to add a fourth benefit that creates tremendous value and works hand in hand with the previous benefits – customer satisfaction. I think that whether enterprises win or lose lies within their ability to achieve customer satisfaction. One of the best examples of digital transformation over the last ten years in banking is the process of depositing a check. The process used to involve these steps: making a trip to the bank, waiting in line for your turn, filling out the deposit slip, providing your driver’s license, handing it to the teller, waiting for them to process it, gathering the transaction receipt, and leaving for your next destination. Now a mobile banking app allows the customer to take a photo of their check and deposit it within minutes – giving the customer time back to their day and requiring no extra travel. By creating a speedy and efficient mobile deposit solution, that bank will satisfy customers while also increasing their own time and money savings. Thus, digital transformation can be a win-win solution for both the organization and the customer.
We are currently operating in an instant economy, where instant gratification is needed everywhere. Organizations that exceed their customers' expectations will stay ahead of the game. However, if your transformation takes months or years, and fails to satisfy customers, you’ll fall behind.
To succeed, digital transformation should not be looked at merely from a cost-saving and efficiency point of view, but rather from a value-add perspective. Every action you take toward digital transformation leads to how you’re impacting the customer. With reduced costs, increased efficiencies, and optimized processes that result from digital transformation, how can you focus more on exceeding customer expectations? That is the question each leader should ask to ensure customer satisfaction remains at the forefront of the digital transformation journey.
“One of the things you don’t ever want to do is to automate a bad process. You are just going to make bad things happen faster, and that is not what anyone wants.”
Digital Enablement and Automation Services Lead, AVP FM Global