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Accelerating Digital Transformation

Friday 22 May, 2020

We look at the recent, dramatic shifts in customer and colleague behaviour brought about by Covid-19. This blog highlights certain ‘focus areas’ that need addressing and advises how to capitalise on these changes to accelerate Digital Transformation. In many cases, there may be only one chance to get it right in the eyes of colleagues and customers.


The global outbreak of Covid-19 has triggered a seismic shift in the way that many industries engage with colleagues and customers.

For customers (whether B2C or B2B), it’s clear that across numerous industries, channels of choice have shifted out of necessity. To cherry pick just a few examples: Tesco has doubled its online shopping capacity in a matter of weeks, Amazon is hiring 75,000 additional people to cope with delivery demand, and 10% of UK adults downloaded their mobile banking application for the first time during the lockdown. Consumers who have been forced to switch channels may not wish to go back, and many of these first-time users have been surprised by their convenience.

Similarly, if we consider the workforce at large, a vast number of people have discovered or expanded the ability to deliver from home. Remote contact centres have been enabled everywhere, regulatory approaches have adapted to enable traders to operate away from the office, Lloyds Of London has announced its online trading platform is to be accelerated, and UK/US/EU trade negotiations are being conducted fully remotely. The use of Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and other similar platforms have exploded in a matter of weeks.

Ways of living and working have been fundamentally altered, at least in the short term, and expectation is that at least some of these changes are here to stay.


Focus Areas To Consider


The dramatic shift towards online channels has been far from seamless. While great work is undoubtedly being done across all sectors, we are starting to see some common key issue areas across the different business we advise. For example:

  • Contact centres being overrun due to services or customer interaction not being available, or able to be delivered online yet.
  • Poorly designed customer journeys that were previously sustained via human proximity (i.e. worked around!) being unsustainable
  • Services not designed to be quickly scalable now being tested to the extreme, with technical issues coming to the fore
  • Neglected back office processes are coming into sharp focus where digital collaboration platforms are trying to fill the gaps. Employees now spending all day on the collaboration platforms like Teams, attempting to work around systems, data and processes that are not fit purpose. Delivering these now is taking a lot of improvisation.
  • Issues in ensuring that the basics of end user computing, including doing so securely, are put in place sustainably. This is covered in another piece (view blog here).
  • The overall pace of change required, without the right agile mindset and cultures in place to cope, leading to flawed new processes rolled out in haste

Overall, while there is certainly customer acceptance of any shortcomings due to the current situation, this will start to turn to frustration and dissatisfaction if not addressed. And colleague patience will wear thin if things that they do every day seem to be needlessly laborious or challenging.



Accelerating Digital Transformation 

Businesses must quickly redouble efforts on digital transformation, and although the approach is tried and tested, it’s more important than ever that businesses reassess in light of the new knowledge from the Covid-19 outbreak. We advise to make sure these key areas are covered as you plan ahead:


1. Strategically Review The Business Models

Businesses may need to review their focus and adapt business models accordingly to determine what makes sense in the short, medium and long term. Pivots and sacrifices are already occurring, for example in hospitality and travel and leisure, where the impact of Covid-19 will likely be felt longest and hardest. This review should be led by establishing opportunities and expectations of both colleagues and customers.


2. Understand And Optimise The Greatest Value Driving Customer & Colleague Journeys

There may well be a changed priority landscape of the value driving journeys, and those which were low on the list for digitalisation will have renewed focus. For example, fashion retailers are focusing much effort on using VR and AR to allow customers to virtually try on outfits at home, both improving the customer experience and reducing returns.


3. Assess Business Capabilities And Processes Required To Support These Journeys

Fundamentally, many businesses are likely to have the right capabilities, however a review of how fit for purpose these are is advisable in order to meet the new normal. There are also industries that now need to do things digitally for the first time, and this will undoubtedly require a step back and review of the business capabilities that are most important.

The above changes will result in a host of process and organisational changes that meet the change in needs from the market, from customer, and from colleagues.


4. Align A Data Management Strategy To Desired Outcomes


Data practices are at the core of any digital transformation, and we will go into more depth regarding data in a further piece. However, once a roadmap of customer or colleague process changes are becoming clear, it’s vital that supporting data assets are fully reviewed and considered. This should include a strategy to uplift quality, security and all the other elements around them as required.

Many digital transformations fail because the work needed around data is not given due consideration early in the journey.


5. Focus On The Right Supporting Technologies

Technology is at the forefront of enabling the changes required. The need for investment now has probably never been greater and there is no hiding place for digitally lagging businesses. Perhaps the value that investment can bring is now clearer for many boardrooms.

SaaS and cloud platform providers are likely to see an uptick in business as the flexibility and speed to implementation that they offer meets a growing digital demand. Companies will be reviewing the capabilities and value offered from their end user devices and networks in the light of the move to home working. RPA providers are also likely to see areas where they can help to automate legacy processes as an interim step. And data should be at the top of the priority list, as the corner stone to effectively automating any process.

6. Don't Overlook Culture

Culture has always been at the heart of delivering successful digital transformation. In the most general terms, this means organisational agility: the ability to collaborate, accept change, accept risk, and embrace different ways to deliver that potentially haven’t changed in a long time. However, now this must be taken in combination with a much wider societal shift brought about by Covid-19. It may well be that the human focus and collective experience of the pandemic helps to foster fertile conditions for transformation, and companies that are able to capitalise on this will gain a boost to their transformation efforts.

Blog by Richard Graham, Coeus Consulting

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