Business critical: digital transformation

Nicky Allen is a true digital pioneer. Part of the Vodacom marketing team even before switch-on, she went on to be a founding partner of 33 Degrees interactive in 1998, the present day Gloo/Ogilvy digital design that’s now Ogilvy Interactive. She then spent 4.5 years as Head of Sales at wiGroup (now YOYO), a fin tech business that enables mobile transactions at retail. She’s also a digital sales funnel expert and brings her skills as a sales and mindset coach to bring meaningful improvements to both businesses and individuals. Today she is Head of Business Development for Cagan Tech, a technology solutions business helping large corporates solve their digital transformation problems.

We’re super proud to call Nicky a Wonder advisor, and here she shares some expert insight into a hot topic that’s on almost every C-Suite’s agenda: digital transformation.

1. What are you noticing in the digital transformation space in 2021?
Digital transformation is no longer a business luxury, but a matter of survival in one way or another. Every business has their own challenges in this current climate, and the majority of solutions involve some form of digital implementation. Whether to speed up communications, administrative processes, and daily operations, businesses need to respond to the digital calling by being agile in their practices, and automate processes that align to business goals satisfying all stakeholders.

Even without the pandemic, there was a trend in 2020 for business leaders to optimise cloud computing, enhancing collaboration, workflow and analytics capabilities. The
difference in 2021 is the need to be innovative to drive competitiveness with a heavy focus on the customer experience.

Those that succeed in this new fast paced digital world, will be those that foster pro-active digital transformation strategies.

2. What is the relationship between CX and digital transformation?
Digital transformations should be strongly led by the desire to give a better customer experience, acting as a catalyst for bringing about digital transformation. Companies that succeed in pursuing a digital transformation strategy are by default helping their customers. By digitising business processes, an optimisation takes place which realises greater efficiency, productivity, and cost savings. This should filter through to customers.

A great customer experience highly motivates spend behaviour, increases revenue and therefore also growth of the company. Better customer experiences have a double positive impact on the business, an example of which we recognised in an implementation of a WhatsApp Chatbot as part of a digital transformation for our client. Enabling self-service for the customer, initially resulted in massive cost savings and efficiency in customer service operations, but a longer term customer loyalty succeeded through better experiences. The offshoot of that implementation gave the business a competitive advantage by retaining existing customers, but also boosted the brand and reputation in the marketplace, leading to an increase in new customers.

3. What are the biggest barriers that businesses face to effective digital transformation?
In my experience, there are some common hurdles that exist to onboard businesses towards digital transformation. The one that stands out to me is the resistance to change. Any digital strategy must be supported by all stakeholders, and where there is
resistance, the digital journey can be brought to a standstill.

It makes the job of Digital Strategist within a company a challenge, and crucially the need to manage change effectively a priority. I like to build strong relationships with them so the trust filters down through the business. Where a business may require implementation of technology on a large scale, I like to break it down to solve small achievable problems at a time, but with the vision to fit the building blocks together at the end.

Legacy systems within a business are a barrier to a full digital transformation as it is often a difficult problem to solve. The ability to integrate into legacy systems is critical to ensuring data is accessed by new cloud platforms. Cagan Tech are experts in wrapping legacy systems with API layers that enable that crucial access for cloud-based systems.

Digital transformation is the process of using digital technologies to create new or modify existing business processes, and not seen as an overhaul of current systems.

4. What’s the role of employee engagement in successful digital transformation projects?
When first introduced to the participants within a digital transformation project, engagement from all parties is crucial in assessing the digital literacy of the users,
typically employees. Managers should achieve the right fit between employee capabilities and the digital initiatives being proposed, maximising the success of the project.

We encourage experimentation before implementation to nudge employees out of their comfort zone. We do this by providing an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) at the earliest
opportunity so employees can feel involved and freely experiment without fearing the consequences. This method also builds trust with the employees as they recognise new and faster ways of doing everyday tasks, increasing efficiency and productivity.

We have proved the use of technologies that are designed and built to manage critical change management processes with minimum resistance across the organisation.

Ultimately, the transformation is to intelligently implement the right technology, but also to incorporate the way a company is structured, encourages and fulfils its employees, invests in training and fosters a workplace culture that is able to adapt quickly.

5. What’s the one piece of advice you’d give businesses needing to run digital transformation projects right now?
My advice would be to keep the customer at the centre of any digital transformation strategy. How can you better service the customer? How can you reduce friction in
their journey?

There are so many considerations when putting together a digital strategy that are specific to the business, however, quite early on, a technology partner is required to successfully fulfil the project. Finding the right technology partners can make or break the success of digital transformation. Choosing partners with a proven track record of delivery which has led to meaningful and lasting positive change is crucial.

When it comes to technology, change is a constant process. There is a start, but no end. If the culture of your organisation is adaptable enough, the impact of new technologies can be analysed and projects move quickly from idea to implementation, thereby minimising cost, disruption and resistance to technological change.

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