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Digital Transformation: Why and How Companies Are Investing in New Business Models to Lead Digital Customer Experiences, with Brian Solis

Jaimy Szymanski

Thank you to everyone who joined us for Tuesday’s webinar on Digital Transformation. We had an excellent turnout from around the globe and received a lot of great questions throughout Brian’s presentation. The webinar was a follow-up to our recent research report on the journey companies take to digital transformation as seen through the lens of digital customer experience (DCX).

You can download the webinar slides at this link, or watch the recording in case you missed it. As we didn’t have time to answer all questions during the webinar, we’ve included answers to the five most common inquiries below. If your question was unanswered, please leave a comment, and we’ll do our best to respond.

Digital Transformation Webinar Q&A

How can change agents help their executives take the first steps toward digital transformation?

Garnering executive support isn’t possible without building a business case for digital transformation and proving its value. This starts with a renewed focus on the customer and realigning the company vision with a more customer-centric POV. First steps for rallying executives for the digital transformation cause can be found in the far-left column of the infographic below. Subsequent steps to guide the change agent’s journey are continued in columns two and three.

Digital Transformation Checklist

Should companies have a Chief Digital Officer to own digital transformation and the customer experience?

It depends on the company’s internal organization structure and roles already in place, but whether it’s a Chief Digital Officer (CDO) or someone of a different title, the need for a change agent remains the same. An internal champion must rise to the occasion (or, given authority) to officially lead transformation and cross-departmental integration. A company-wide vantage point is hard to come by when many businesses focus on their respective silos. Change agents—the CDO or another leader—need to actively think about the importance and role of their leadership in the transformation process. Change agents can get the ball rolling on digital transformation before it becomes a formal movement, opening the door for passionate employees throughout the company who have the energy, passion, and experience to champion change.

What are the essential tools to include in a digital transformation “toolkit?”

Our research uncovered three key elements that, when combined, form the compound upon which digital transformation efforts are built. These three elements are essential to the success of digital transformation within any organization:

Elements of Digital Transformation

  1. It is most effective with pointed vision and supportive leadership. This requires those leading or attempting to get a digital transformation program in motion to make the business case. But, the business case needs more than evidence or anecdotes; it needs a story and a vision for what it looks like and what it delivers.
  2. Optimizing the digital customer experience (DCX) becomes the initial objective. Digital customer experience begins with research, not guesswork, to study personas, behaviors, and expectations throughout every stage of the customer lifecycle. Once armed with information, digital transformation takes shape by specifically aligning people, processes, and technologies against goals and milestones to map a new and effective journey for digital customers.
  3. Change materializes through the formation of a digital transformation team. In many cases, we learned that organizations form special teams to bring people together to start talking and put change into motion. These teams go by many names: digital circles, Centers of Excellence (CoE), rapid innovation teams, digital acceleration teams, and more.

In an organization, who are the change agent’s best supporters, whom they can approach to create alliances and get overall buy-in?

Again, the answer is “it depends.” Some companies will have different approval processes and departments they must loop in when pursuing new digital efforts. For example, if you’re in a more regulated industry, it will be necessary to recruit legal as a close ally. Other common allies for change agents include leaders and influencers from customer experience, social, mobile, HR, product development, customer service, and strategy departments. The more silos a change agent can break down via building solid relationships, the more poised he or she will be to lead digital transformation efforts toward success.

From an executive level, the CMO and CIO should be closely looped in to all digital strategist efforts around transformation, if not part of the pilot itself. Both departments are closely related when it comes to driving transformation and must “play nice” from the get-go to build strong foundations for when it’s time to take (funded) action.

What do you consider the most important quality of a digital strategist?

Above all, a digital strategist must be resilient. We found that, without help, the change agent role can quickly lead to burnout or defeatism. It’s imperative that this person finds other like-minded individuals at different levels throughout the organization to achieve progress and sustain energy. In order to bring about change and stay upbeat, change agents needed to form strategic alliances as well, seeking out others who are passionate about change.