The complexity and evolving nature of Digital Transformation have drastically changed since the pandemic. With the need to deliver a unified experience in challenging and emerging environments, how can decision-makers digitally transform their organisations? Mark Ackerman, Area VP, Middle East & Africa, ServiceNow explains how businesses can best prepare for this digital economy and empower the customer at the same time.
It is difficult to imagine an enterprise in the Arab Gulf – or, indeed, anywhere – that is not, to some degree, a digital business. Software, whether on-premises or running in the cloud, is the great differentiator. Basic applications deliver the minimal productivity required to keep up with market demands and more advanced technologies automate, analyse, predict and advise. Together, these tools allow regional enterprises to contribute to the myriad economic visions of ambitious governments as they build sustainable, knowledge-based societies.
Businesses must reflect the economy in which they operate. Economies are increasingly digital, therefore businesses must become capable of operating and scaling in these emerging environments. Challenges are not what they used to be. Where a business previously just had to worry about efficiency, now it has to contend with pleasing the digital-native customer and attracting the digital-native employee. In this pursuit, applications rule the roost – delivering data-centric services that become the fuel of shrewd decisions. Here are four things regional decision-makers should bear in mind as they digitally transform their organisations.
1. Build customer-centric services
Knowing your customer has always been essential, so why should we do anything different when designing our digital business? No matter what it sells – Software- As-a-Service, clothing, cars, food – the modern enterprise must deliver a unified experience that thrills customers. That does not only mean catering to their immediate whims (always having the right items in stock, personalising customer service to build rapport, being flexible on delivery and providing multichannel engagement options). It must also include predicting what they might want and when they might want it.
Business intelligence of this standard requires not only deep and broad Digital Transformation but a fundamental culture shift that prioritises the customer relationship – moving from transactional to relational interaction. The metrics and workflows of modern digital platforms allow businesses to monitor how their offerings are being adopted and integrated and what successes they are bringing to customers. Through this approach, relationships become something to be maintained, renewed and enhanced as an ongoing project.
With this kind of culture in place, workflow tools that connect touchpoints will allow companies to deploy Artificial Intelligence that can predict the potential loss of a customer and trigger a fresh workflow to redress the satisfaction deficit. Metrics such as active users, engagement scores and retention rates can likewise be used to initiate proactive measures and preserve customer loyalty.
2. Forget websites; offer digital services
Static information pages are to the digital world as the dodo is to the animal kingdom. And corporate brochures are to a digital native as a bicycle is to a fish. The millennial and the Gen-Zer demand digital services. The mobile app, the messaging channel, the chatbot – these speak the language of the modern consumer. But they do more. They offer a window into the behaviours and preferences of individual consumers who – remember – expect to be treated as individuals. In real-time, interaction data is not as actionable as it is when looking at the patterns in behaviour over time to discern trends that can inform decisions.
This approach also enables the proactive customer service mentioned earlier, in that it allows the business to anticipate issues and demands and allows the designers of digital services to empower the customer to discover new products and find solutions to their own problems. Self-service is, after all, another defining aspiration of the digital native and it has the convenient side-effect of being cost-friendly to the business.
3. Encourage citizen development
All of these avenues may seem attractive in theory, but many regional businesses may find themselves in a bind over skills gaps. It is expensive and often fruitless, to attract and retain the kind of skills necessary to build the advanced digital workflows mentioned here. But today, automation projects can be undertaken by the very users that they will most benefit from, rather than farmed out to IT through a lengthy development lifecycle that includes imperfect requirements gathering.
The citizen developer, under thoughtful governance, can be a lucrative asset capable of adding much more value than a new IT source. Using simple, drag-and-drop, low-code development platforms (LDP), non-tech citizen developers save on the procurement and ongoing costs of a new human resource, they deliver higher-fidelity outcomes and they learn new skills, which allows them to add even more value as time goes on.
Of course, the success of the citizen developer is predicated on a fully integrated IT department that supports them and empowers them to become autonomous. But if duly supported, the citizen developer – immersed as they are in daily, value-adding innovation – is much more likely to stay with the company than if they remain an undervalued backroom specialist perpetually frustrated by corporate inertia.
4. Redesign cybersecurity
Today, every digital business has digital assets to protect. If they did not, they would not be a digital business. Mere anti-virus and firewall just won’t cut it. Intellectual property and cloud infrastructure require a stronger threat posture and a dedicated security operations centre (SOC) that covers the detection of threats, the containment of damage and the recovery from incidents.
But today’s security teams must go further, to take responsibility for the assessment and management of risk, including penetration testing and red-team exercises. They must be integral to the design and testing of digital experiences to ensure the brand’s market reputation is not tarnished by trust issues. And they must be conversant in regulatory compliance and granted the authority to enforce it internally.
The digital business at last
Businesses must be and will be, digital. But slapping technology on top of legacy processes and stale culture will not be sufficient. Delight the customer, inspire the employee and secure the infrastructure. Now you are ready for the digital economy.Click below to share this article