How to consider the business in a digital transformation – PODCAST

In this episode, Clarasys’ own Tom Carpenter, Sarah Rigby and Simon Blosse explore how to consider the business in a digital transformation.

How to consider the business in a digital transformation – PODCAST

In this episode, Clarasys’ own Tom Carpenter, Sarah Rigby and Simon Blosse explore how to consider the business in a digital transformation.


Meet the author

Tom Carpenter

Principal Consultant

Simon Blosse

Principal Consultant

Sarah Rigby

Principal Consultant

Our four-part podcast mini-series deep dives into digital transformation areas to consider to ensure success.

In this episode, Clarasys’ own Tom Carpenter, Sarah Rigby and Simon Blosse explore how to consider the business in a digital transformation. They discuss the importance of having a business vision and using it as a starting point for the transformation ensuring it takes the customer into account, aligning your transformation to your business strategy and practical steps listeners can take including mapping, analysing, prioritizing, testing and learning to get you on the right track. 

Listen here or read on for an edited transcript.

Tom Carpenter: Welcome to another episode of CX Talks. I’m your host again today Tom Carpenter one of our CX specialists here at Clarasys.

Tom Carpenter: I’m joined by Sarah Rigby and Simon Blosse, who I’ll let introduce themselves in just a moment.

Tom Carpenter: This is actually part of a podcast series. Please do watch the first one, which introduces four themes on how to successfully drive a digital transformation.

Tom Carpenter: Those themes are business, organization, customer and technology. And we’ll be doing a deep dive on each of those four areas. So you can check out a deep dive on business, organization, customer and technology separately. This one today, we’re gonna be talking about business specifically which we’ll get into a little bit more, but alignment to business strategy, how you do something achievable and measurable and, and impactful.

Tom Carpenter: At this point, I’ll hand over to Sarah to introduce herself.

Sarah Rigby: Hi, I’m Sarah Rigby. I’m one of our CX specialists in the business, and I’ve worked quite a lot with both large and smaller organizations to help them on their digital transformation, from the very start through to implementation.

Tom Carpenter: Sarah is one of our do-gooders and often does a lot of non-profit work as well it’s worth saying, Sarah. Some really interesting charity clients that you’ve worked with on where to start right from the beginning in digital transformation. So it’s great to have you on the podcast today giving some insights and your experience in some of those things.

Tom Carpenter: Simon?

Simon Blosse: Hi everyone. I’m Simon Blosse. I’m a principal consultant here. Specializing really in customer experience as well as Sarah. But also our business architecture approaches and how we shape the right technology and structures behind the business strategies that we’re defining and working with our clients on. I’ve worked in consulting for about 14 years now.

Tom Carpenter: Great to have Simon here with us as well, who hasn’t been a Clarasys too long, but already is making a big impact with some of the techniques that he uses to really understand and analyze businesses, this architecture side, as Simon says with a view on customer. So some great perspectives that we’ve got today.

Tom Carpenter: So we’re going talk to you a little bit about how to consider the business in a digital transformation.

Tom Carpenter: So I guess the first place to start is, Do you have a vision? How do we ensure that we can make sure that the business vision is something which a digital transformation can use or utilize as a starting point, do you think?

Consider your business vision during a digital transformation 

Sarah Rigby: Yeah, I guess to your point Tom, first of all, is actually, do you have a vision as an organization? I think some of our bigger enterprise global companies hopefully do have a vision and that’s a good starting point.

Sarah Rigby: I’d say from my experience, actually working with a lot of the not-for-profits it’s making sure actually as a starting point that people understand what that vision is. And there is alignment across really, on terms of what does that mean and what are you then trying to achieve? And once you’ve got that clarity, you can then start actually breaking that vision down into what are your objectives and your results. So they’re quite tangible on the ground. And then using that to identify how can transforming in a digital way actually support that vision. So I think it depends where you are in your maturity in terms of, do you have a really, really clear vision that everyone is bought into and they’re working towards, or actually is that the first step on this digital transformation journey?

Simon Blosse: I’d agree on that. And I think there’s something quite important here around making sure that that definition of a vision has a people focus. And that either having that customer focus or talking in the language of the people in your organization. Because I think I’ve found that when you have that angle to a vision it becomes automatically more meaningful. People get it a lot faster. They can relate to it quicker.

Simon Blosse: Customer tends to enable you to help the whole business, see why it’s important, but also when you have maybe quite complex businesses and that might be far removed, having the employee angle to that vision and breaking it down both in terms of how we’re going to improve as a business, but also is it going to relate to me personally, whether I am someone who’s striving to improve a customer experience, or I am someone who’s trying to run the business better? I think hugely accelerates then that understanding and the ability to get quickly to objectives that means something that can be turned into results.

Simon Blosse: I find often if you don’t do that bit, you sometimes lose meaningfulness quite quickly.

Sarah Rigby: Yeah. And I think actually that’s a really good point, Simon, in terms of a tool that I’ve used with some clients is a vision tree exercise. So actually being able to visually see this is the overall company vision and how does that translate to what am I doing on the ground operationally.

Sarah Rigby: Some of the KPIs that we’re measuring ourselves, how does that link together? Because if you don’t have that, it’s quite difficult for people to really buy-in and see what impact they’re having and how that’s contributing to the wider organization.

Tom Carpenter: I agree with your point, especially though on the purposefulness of your transformation as well. So let’s say we’ve got a scenario where ERP solution is a little outdated and it needs replacing. And that’s the scene in which been set and how you’re working. Compared to let’s say you want to reduce the amount of effort that the organization takes in its operational back-office processes. So that it can focus more on frontline customer-facing efforts. That will be a much more empowering reason than we’re replacing it because it’s broken, even though in reality you are kind of replacing it because it’s broken, but you can see how it relates.

Tom Carpenter: I think that’s often forgotten that people-centred customer-centred angle as well. So yeah, agree on that.

Tom Carpenter: Well say, it’s nice in an ideal world where you can start from the beginning. So I think you’ve had some examples of that Sarah in some, not for profits.

Tom Carpenter: Let’s say we are in an ideal world and we are starting kind of from the beginning. How would you see that breaking down to become a digital strategy?

Starting from the beginning of a digital transformation

Sarah Rigby: Yeah, it’s been really, really interesting and fun, I guess, working with some of our not for profit clients, at the start of their digital transformation journey. I think first of all, as we were talking about, actually, what is the overall vision the organization wants to achieve?

Sarah Rigby: Then to your point, Tom, what are you trying to deliver for your customers?

Sarah Rigby: Customer in a broader sense here is what experience are you trying to actually provide to them and why? How does that link to your overall vision, purpose as a company? I think a lot of the time we see clients come at this purely from a technology point of view.

Sarah Rigby: So, we’ll put in technology that will solve all our problems, whilst in reality, there’s a lot of other questions that you need to ask. And there’s a misperception as well that a digital transformation is purely technology. There’s a load of different elements to it, of which we’ve spoken about kind of your vision, your values looking at the customers, looking at, the people in your business as well, and what do they need to make their lives easier?

Sarah Rigby: So think, first of all, it’s yeah, get that vision and also understand what does transforming digitally mean to you as a business? It depends completely in the context of what you’re trying to achieve.

Sarah Rigby: We often do an exercise, which is looking at a high level across your kind of vision, your people, your process, tech, and data.

Sarah Rigby: Try to benchmark well, where are you now? Are you purely at an operational level? Are you trying to fully transform to be digital in everything you truly do? And you need to start questioning, do you actually need to be completely a hundred per cent digital to achieve your objectives? And do you need to invest money resource to be able to do it? To your organization is going from paper to system good enough? Or do you want to be using RPA and artificial intelligence if that’s what’s going to be the key change in your organization?

Sarah Rigby: I think understanding what does digital mean is probably one of the first starting points and also having that alignment across your exec leadership team as well.

Simon Blosse: I think that is such a common challenge I’ve seen as well. And I think. One thing I’ve lent on quite a lot in trying to navigate the complexity of that question because if we take, for example, should we become completely digital, should we use automation versus paper, people sometimes forget what they’re trying to actually be famous for or do effectively.

Capability modelling helps

Simon Blosse: So I use capability modelling quite a lot in those scenarios because what you can then look at is, okay, we have a capability which is maybe managing new subscriptions. We could do that in a multitude of ways. We can have a lot of people who are that for us using quite simple process methods or simple approaches. Or we spend the time and the money and the investment to more automated so we can free up those people, as you were saying to then do other things. But there may be a point in the journey where the company’s like, this is a really important thing for us. And if we take six to 12 to 18 months to get the automation done, we still need to have that capability in place now to meet our vision.

Simon Blosse: And I think what’s helpful is I found when you talk in capabilities, you end up with a scenario where there’s a lot more holistic conversation going on, where you’re thinking, okay, well, we’ve got a team of 10 people at the moment. We need to reduce that really, but we also want to be famous for how easy it is to subscribe.

Simon Blosse: Also want to have a journey where we are removing those people a bit by bit able to do other things. I find that when you talk in that capability lens, you get that kind of conversation at a more 3D level than maybe, oh, we need to just improve and be more digital. That’s the answer.

Simon Blosse: Because it may go the other way as well. In some instances where you decide to downgrade a bit of the complexity of your technology because you don’t need that. And it saves time in training and the energy and investment and constant upgrading, and you go, you know what, we’re going to move to a more simple approach here because we’re not famous for, let’s say subscriptions, we’re famous for another part of our business now ’cause we’ve changed the way we’re moving.

Sarah Rigby: I think that’s a really interesting point Simon, and I think coming at it from a capability lens, you put it in a language where people in the business understand what you’re talking about, but it’s also that bridge between this is the customer experience. We’re trying to deliver the journey we want our customers to go on. To, well, how do we actually make that happen in the business? So I think that’s a really important lens to come at it from is that capability view.

Simon Blosse: And I think there’s that level of maturity being easier to translate into ‘what are we going to be famous for?’ Or ‘what are our customers going to say?’

Simon Blosse: I think that also helps you then go, okay, we want our customers to say it was flawlessly easy to do this with them, rather than, oh, it’s really painful to do a particular step let’s say in a buying cycle or in a future subscription area, let’s say. And I think that’s where you can end up with that individual story being quite easy to articulate and then test and validate as well. that’s the key thing to keep on doing is constant checking where you are on that.

Tom Carpenter: We’ve also been talking about an ideal there where we’ve started top down. So we’re defining a strategy and we break that down. Quite commonly we see particularly larger organizations, that actually it’s the opposite. So let’s say I live in the team and I decided that my price is really inefficient and I send a business case to upgrade my areas.

Tom Carpenter: So I guess you are talking around this theme, which is that everyone decides to transform. How does that wrap up into a coherent strategy that delivers something of value to the customer often gets forgotten, or it gets assumed that somebody is doing that at board level, but there isn’t a process in place or the governance in place to actually ensure that you are thinking about the impact to your customer journey general.

Tom Carpenter: So, yeah, I guess that that viewpoint is how do you consider impact to customer, value to business, prioritize things against each other as a really important rule or set of principles to have.

It’s ok to stop something that’s not working

Sarah Rigby: Yeah. And I think as well, to that point in terms of the prioritization. Regardless of if it’s being driven from board level down or it’s within a particular business unit or team where you’re thinking about digital, have to also ask yourself some difficult questions in terms of what are we going to stop doing that we’re doing today? Or what are we going to pause?

Sarah Rigby: Because in reality, you can’t do everything. The progress that you make is going to be a lot slower versus if you strategically think actually, if we prioritize these one or two initiatives, we’re going to be able to get pace and move in the direction we want.

Sarah Rigby: And I think that’s also something we found as well with a lot of the clients we work with is just having that honest conversation to say, it’s fine to stop doing what you’re doing. If it’s not adding any value or actually from a customer point of view, it’s not going to give anything else to them.

Sarah Rigby: I think there’s a perception and also an emotional attachment to if you start doing something you want to complete it and want to able to see that value. But actually, in reality, it’s not always the best thing to be doing. So, yeah, I think it’s asking yourself those difficult questions and being confident to say, actually, let’s stop doing it.

Sarah Rigby: It’s not going to help anybody. In terms of, from customer point of view, or to the business.

Who in the business will the digital transformation impact?

Simon Blosse: And I think there’s something quite powerful when you take the time to consolidate all of those ideas. So you mentioned there if they want to improve their particular area and then another group within the company also wants to improve an area. How do you then translate that to then a meaningful conversation when they’re looking at very different things?

Simon Blosse: It’s not beating the same drum, but looking at that capability, you can then have a much more cohesive discussion and going, right, okay, well if we’re going to start leaning into improving our quoting process let’s say, there’s going to be overlaps to the parts that we will naturally improve, that would help this team and that team.

Simon Blosse: So if you are okay, team B let’s say, we will prioritize this because you’re going to get the benefit of getting better quotes, better prices coming to you. So you can then manage that cycle of taking them and making them into the sales that you want without having us to do everything in parallel at first.

Simon Blosse: And then also equally you could say, well, is that the most important part of our business and having that quite constructive conversation when you go well, actually the overlaps between sales and marketing, are more considerable in this area we should therefore focus on that first because there’s double benefit there.

Simon Blosse: And I think that also helps again, because you get that more of a buy-in and quite complicated transformation decisions because people are playing the trade-offs that everyone has to at the level, maybe, but in a more collaborative way. And it helps people understand these difficult decisions that are going to be made in a dark room somewhere and then people just feel like they’re never getting what they want. Whereas actually what’s happened is probably a thousand decisions and trade-offs have been made by maybe a technology team or the business transformation team. And they’re now communicating it and that can impact later down the line the way that then people feel bought in or not in that transformation decision.

Sarah Rigby: I think that’s a really, really interesting point Simon, in terms of not doing it in a room, locked away from everyone who’s actually part of the transformation. It’s really important to actually be able to include whoever this transformation is going to impact, which is realistically going to be all your customers. And it’s going to be everybody inside your business unit, your team, your organization, however wide you’re doing this. It’s really important to actually include them from the very beginning in terms of, I guess it’s more of that sort of outside in approach, opposed to inside out, which I guess is quite common from archaic types of transformations.

Tom Carpenter: If some of our listeners here are thinking, okay, I need to get aligned. My digital transformation isn’t aligned to my business strategy. What steps would we recommend that we take them through do you think?

How to align your business strategy to a digital transformation

Simon Blosse: So I think the obvious one that we highlighted would be to try and map that vision looks like from your perspective in your business capabilities, in the overall current state that you are sitting within, I suppose, and then looking at the gaps against that. that’s where Sarah sort of highlighted to start getting about the real objectives for that particular transformation is going to be, because it’s all about the time period that you’re looking across, obviously, your vision is going to be hopefully quite big terms of where you want to get to need to therefore Break that down into manageable slices that you can then use to drive out more meaningful results over the course of a tangible time period.

Simon Blosse: I think the second thing I’d really highlight and it’s something that struck me when you were saying about being involved. the best trick in the book I’ve ever seen used is, and it sounds so simple when you say it, is just start talking to customers about what they think about that vision and also what they think about what you should do first, you sometimes can find it will get rid of the most complex, most heated arguments internally when a customer goes, ‘oh, that’s not important, this is. Why are you not focusing on that first? Because at the moment I’d go to this competitor of yours, because it’s much easier to deal with them when it comes to this particular aspect of your business compared to another, maybe it’s about how easy it is to get engaged with them, or start a new with them or something like that.

Simon Blosse: Or it could be, ‘it’s just difficult to get hold of you’, that kind of thing can very quickly reorientate, I suppose, the arguments to be much more meaningful again. being okay, we need to focus on that first because that’s going to keep our loyal customers and potentially get some new ones. I think having that voice of the customer throughout this whole transformation strategy, whatever you want to call it, is always a more powerful trick than I think many of the business I’ve worked with, will ever appreciate until you start using it.

Tom Carpenter: When I was a little baby consultant, back in my early consulting career, one of my clients had a customer chair and someone would represent the voice of the customer. Some research would have been done. And they were the one who was holding that, oh, hold on, hang on let me say the snippet that’s what the customer might think about this.

Tom Carpenter: So it takes it away from opinions and brings the customer’s voice into that decision-making forum. In reality as well. So that’s quite cool. I’d recommend, I’ve seen that work at other customers since then, as well, really effectively.

As a business, where are you at today?

Sarah Rigby: Yeah, I really like that. I was going to say as well, in terms of practical steps of what listeners could do as well. I think it’s, first of all, just understanding actually, where are you today? That can often be overlooked because there might be an individual, who has an experience of, for example, a lot of the clients I’ve worked with were very, paper-based, worked in silos that sort of thing.

Sarah Rigby: And if you are working in a silo, you’re very unaware of what’s going on outside of your team. So you need to have that awareness of, for example, I might be great, I’m on a Salesforce or dynamics, whatever it may be. I know how I’m doing my job, but actually the department next to me might be using paper.

Sarah Rigby: So really understanding where are you as a starting point. And then once you have that vision that we talked about just starting to break it down. So actually what are the key step changes and what are the key stages you need to go through to achieve it? And then start thinking about how can you start making a difference, get value quite quickly.

Sarah Rigby: Again, a digital transformation sounds scary. It sounds like it’s going to be this big thing, which is going to take years and years. Whilst in reality, there will be some small, quick wins that turning the dial. I think we’re very much big advocates in terms of just starting to test things early iterating so that once again, you’re seeing in the business and you’re seeing improvements to your end customers as well.

Sarah Rigby: So it’s how can you start almost like, how can you break down your, for example, some of the customers I’ve worked with, they put a brand new CRM in, and, if you were to just do it classic kind of waterfall, that is going to take quite a while and it’s probably not going to be at the end, what you actually want it to be either.

Sarah Rigby: So it’s, do you start breaking that down? Whether that is taking your highest priority customers and using it for them or it’s by department or it’s by product. There are lots of different ways that you can slice the digital transformation and you just need to figure out what works best for you as a business.

Simon Blosse: And just to build on that, Sarah, I think there’s another point I’d highlight that when it comes to mapping the current state because you talked about how important that is. And I think one of the most simple but, again, overlooked, things is mapping your customer journeys really helps you align all your business around one central flow.

Map your customer journeys

Simon Blosse: And there may be many journeys. There may be different types of customers, but I found that when you spend the time doing that, you find those moments where the team’s like, oh, you do that using that system, we interact with customers using this system. Or you can ask the same question, go, okay, this journey that goes across one customers maybe year in the life of with you or a particular purchase or something like that, and you notice suddenly that four different teams are going to different places for the same information about that customer, or have been doing things very differently, even though it’s the same individual being interacted with. And that again, fast-tracks of where have we got overlaps, where have we got mismatches, misunderstandings, that people can get that commonality across that to really understand the current world.

Simon Blosse: And I find that sometimes that’s what is overlooked is people all think they understand their current role the best because of course, they’re doing their job every day. And if you are someone who is in sales, it’s very difficult to know really what a marketing person needs every day and whether they have, or have not got what they need until you start seeing that same customer, you are then dealing with being interacted with by a different team in a certain way, and then having a different experience with you, different experience with the next team fulfilment and so on.

Simon Blosse: And that helps give you that ‘oh, okay, this is our current world and I now get why you do that and why you need this. Or I now understand why that customer is unhappy at that point. I used to think it was just because Michael wasn’t doing his work or something, but actually it’s the system or it’s the process that we’ve got built.’ And I think that then you carry forward into seeing how you’re nudging that journey and maybe the small changes and then the big changes that will then elevate or extremely increase the value or decrease the time it takes.

Analyse your current tech landscape

Sarah Rigby: Yeah, I was actually going to say something really powerful that’s worked in terms of playing about what’s happening at the moment is almost just on a page showing, to your point earlier Simon around capabilities, it’s almost being able to share, you know, for sale marketing service, what kind of tech landscape is going on at the moment?

Sarah Rigby: I remember putting something in front of an exec team where there was probably 50, 60 systems and 30 of them were so-called CRMs. And just being able to say, actually, you know what, not doing a classic rag status of, you know, not fit for purpose to actually it’s fine, keep this, and just being able to have a single view of this is your tech landscape and why the hell do you have 8 10, 12 different CRMs. When you’ve got one type of customer, it’s quite powerful just to be able to that story to people who aren’t techies, they don’t understand it, but it’s quite a simple way just to get them bought into it. It’s we actually need to do something here as well.

Tom Carpenter: I think the prioritization part we were talking about here is good as well. Cause you see all of this, stuff I need to change. And I liken this a little bit. Like when, January time, and you’re looking yourself, you and you’re like right I need to get fit. Stop drinking. I need to give up smoking. I need to work on my relationships. I need to be better at work and you try and do all of those things. And then you kind of half do all of those things. And then actually just slip back into old ways.

Tom Carpenter: That’s a little bit like thinking about like you’ve got all of this stuff that’s broken. You can try and fix it all and some organizations do that successfully, but you’ll be more effective if you focus. So let’s pick the areas of focus. And if you have those areas that cut through functions and across journeys that tie people together, then that’s also an effective way of delivering change across the organization instead of being like, right we’ll do the sales bit first and then we’ll do the finance bit and then we’ll do the marketing bit, and seeing it siloed out like that. So, yeah, I like that.

Tom Carpenter: It’s good to see what you’ve got as in like with a mess you need to fix potentially, but also being pragmatic in focus and prioritization, I think is quite important.

Tom Carpenter: So you don’t just start a load of things. Then have to stop a load of things later, which we see quite often.

In a digital transformation, you must prioritize

Simon Blosse: And I think that builds on that point of trying to remind yourselves, what are we trying to be famous for? In this phase or in the next phase. It helps you kind of articulate transformation in again, a meaningful way.

Simon Blosse: But you can then go, okay, that’s going to be much more impactful because those four things improving, although they aren’t the entirety of sales, but are maybe across a number of things that you would look at them individually and be like this small can actually then change the lever from a customer’s perspective so dramatically that they’re like, oh wow, they’re amazing this particular type of person or customer that you’re trying to target, will go, oh yeah they’ve now got this really unique approach that no one else does in this particular industry area because they focus on the needs of that particular person.

Simon Blosse: And it can help you give those famous stories that drive both the ongoing change, drive and prevents that – oh, let’s just go back to old ways, Tom. But that’s where I think it’s important to highlight those journeys and make them more experiential. So you would have that, oh, we can make a real case these that everyone can get on board with.

Testing and learning is crucial in a digital transformation

Simon Blosse: I think the other thing I was just going to bring up that I think is important when you’re going on those journeys. And you’ve mentioned it a few times I think both of you, is that testing and learning. And I think being more experimental about the approach you take to changing your world when it comes to digital is ever more important because we just don’t know what kind of capabilities technology is going to bring six months, 12 months, let alone two years.

Simon Blosse: And the worst thing you can do is assume you will know all of that now, and then miss a massive trick later down the line where you could fast track something that you thought was going to be a nine-month project because there’s been a new part of a solution released. Or actually, you can now analytics or automation. But then the challenge with that is then you can kind of be a kid candy shop scenario where you’re like, I want to have everything now, but again, it’s experimenting in which ones work and which ones don’t work and not being afraid to do that with customer lens.

Simon Blosse: So dare I say it, going out and actually testing some of this stuff with customers helps you then work out whether it’s going to change the dial from their perspective, even if it is from your perspective it may not for them and vice versa. And so it’s a helpful thing to keep trying to package your vision and the way you’ve transformed that into being stages or phases or different things, you’re trying to change into experiments as well. But, okay, how are we going to constantly test this part? How are we going to make sure we’re doing the right way? How are we going to validate that? And not being afraid to do that continuously and having every single person experimenting checking and then changing and saying, that’s not working, this is -let’s go with that.

Simon Blosse: That’s essential. I think to the success these days.

Digital transformation is a journey, not a destination

Tom Carpenter: Another kind of before processing consideration. I’ll relate this to life again. Is considering things as a journey, not a destination. So often you become happier in your life. If you think about like, I’m not trying to get here, then here, but you’re experiencing – we have a journey. I think that’s very similar in digital transformation as well.

Tom Carpenter: People are like, oh, I’ll do the digital transformation and then I’ll do something else. Then I’ll come back and I’ll do the digital transformation again. When actually it’s ever-changing. You’re constantly digitally transforming so understanding ability to keep being like, well we fixed that, now we’ll fix this.

Tom Carpenter: Then we’ll come back to that. And then we’ll do a bit of this as a constant ever-growing thing, for many is a mind shift change project program way of looking at the world to a product, continuous improvement innovation view of the world. Which is much more common with many of our clients now. In that mindset and way of thinking, you don’t implement a CRM leader and then come back and implement another CRM anymore. You continuously develop a product using best practice out of the box standards. Which is a bit of a different way of thinking of things as well. So I think it’s important to see this exercise as not like a one-off, this is a constant thing.

Sarah Rigby: Yeah, I think that’s a really, really good point because it all ties back to, you know, we talked about the customer experience. What are you trying to deliver? That is always going to evolve, right?

Sarah Rigby: It’s similar people go into a customer experience program and they say, we’ll be done in two years. it is a change in mindset. Your customer needs are always going to change. look at the likes of, Amazon. And you look at the likes of Apple and the companies who have been able to keep up with what customer needs. Or, you know, the newer, smaller companies, which have grown exponentially, like your Uber’s, for instance, they really understood what your customer needs are versus other companies which haven’t been able to survive, just because they’ve not been able to continuously change based on what’s happening around them.

Sarah Rigby: So, yeah, I think it’s a really, really good point that it’s not a single moment in time where it’s not just a two-year program is, and that’s, a bigger conversation in terms of culturally, what needs to happen in your organization to enable that?

Tom Carpenter: it’s like being Netflix, don’t be Blockbuster. That kind of thing.

Sarah Rigby: Yeah.

Simon Blosse: And I think I was just thinking back to your point of taking a journey Tom, and I think it’s the first time I’d recommend taking as many stops on your flight as you could, because you want to be able to get off and change a flight to a different one, rather than getting this beautiful first-class all around the world ticket. That’s only going to stop once at where you’re getting to. I think it’s helpful in this case, actually saying get the cheaper ones that take a little bit more time, so you can then get on another one that then takes you a different place because you’ve then recognized actually our destination is changing constantly. And I think that’s a bit like that analogy, but I think it also highlights that difference between the old approach where you say, we know where we want to get to it’s just about how fast we get there and make sure that’s as quick as possible and as nice as possible.

Simon Blosse: So the classic first-class, fast flight compared to now where people are much more aware that we don’t really know where we want to go, but we just want to get on a plane and we want to start exploring the world. I’m talking as if we can all fly around the world at the moment. But one day we will be able to do this as much as hopefully, we can in our minds.

Tom Carpenter: I agree with the concept of don’t fly to Australia and then realize that actually, you needed to just go to Calcutta or something. So I agree with that concept. How would you know when to change? What kind of boundaries are you setting to know that you should pivot or change, how might you do that too?

When on a digital transformation journey, how do you set boundaries and know when to change? 

Simon Blosse: I think there’s, again, it comes back to the two factors we’ve set up at the beginning, which is you’ve got a vision that hopefully has been translated to a level that you can then evaluate against. So you can say, are we on the right direction? Do our customers still want this? Do we still feel that this is important or has technology now shifted the dial?

Simon Blosse: Or have we found a way to fast track this and actually we’ve already achieved what we thought was going to take us longer. So now let’s readjust and it could be a small adjustment, or it could be your customers are very different now – you’ve suddenly found this new group of customers that you want to then meet the needs of who expect a lot more savviness let’s say, or vice versa, right. Maybe a slower customer doesn’t need that.

Simon Blosse: I think it’s that constant point of going okay, building into your plan, how are we going to check test and reshape, I think is a key thing. I think there’s many ways you could do that.

Simon Blosse: But that would be my first starting point would be looking broken down a problem in the first And making sure you go back and revisiting and checking your initial inputs are still valid.

Sarah Rigby: I think as well as that point, there might be big things, right? So like COVID being the obvious one – probably thrown out so many plans and fine. You’ve got to be comfortable with the fact things are going to change, but you’ve got to be set up in the right way to enable you to be able to change quickly and quite flexibly.

Sarah Rigby: So, yeah, I think it’s back to that point about it’s ever-evolving, so you need to be able to understand actually just how you go on your journey, opposed to always focusing on getting to Australia.

Measurement is key to success

Simon Blosse: And I think that’s where it’s important to take time out, to work out what your key indicators are of success. So what is it you’re going to be measuring and having that agreed upfront it then means if you’re starting to see that you’re deviating from those in your current world, or maybe the world itself has deviated so much, that becomes a less important KPI, at least you can go back to that and measure your current success where you are at against, or at least what you think your overall business case is going to bring is real still. I think that’s the important thing is getting those metrics aligned to those capabilities and those journeys or experiences you’re trying to drive gives you then more credibility when you are changing a decision.

Simon Blosse: Because I think that’s the challenge you sometimes hit with this is, you know, it’s not right anymore, but it’s very hard to articulate it without having some kind of data, whether that’s input some customers telling you ‘no that’s not anymore’. Or it’s input from your business saying, okay, we aren’t spending that much money on our costs as we thought we would to do this process.

Simon Blosse: So therefore actually we don’t need to worry about spending a fortune on a new system to do that because we’ve actually measured this over the last six months and found different data. It’s those kinds of points changes it from being just a theoretical thinking or an idea to being something that can be supported and then taken to sign off which we will have to go through.

Consider who is accountable for what in the digital transformation

Sarah Rigby: I think as well on that point, actually, it’s really important to think about who is accountable for things, because I think you can sometimes land on well it’s a digital transformation it’s a CTO. Everything sits with them. But what we’ve talked about a lot today is how it goes beyond the technology.

Sarah Rigby: So thinking about how everyone plays their role in the transformation as well is really important, and that will obviously help with the buy-in and bringing people on the journey and then it’s not just seen as the technology department are going to be doing everything.

Tom Carpenter: Yeah. And I think having the objectives and vision that are more related to customer behaviour makes it easier to feel like you can switch.

Tom Carpenter: When someone says something like, we’re going to increase the engagement of the sales team with our CRM platform and conversations that sales have. That is a good target and fair target but you can get a little bit narrow-minded in trying to keep going off that objective where your actual objective is probably to have richer conversations with customers, which result in higher deal size or more deals or selling more of this product and less of this other one.

Tom Carpenter: That’s like a secondary effect of a better CRM. But having that traceability means that you can kind of change a like, okay actually it doesn’t matter if salespeople use the CRM because we’ve worked out some like automation actually, they don’t need to be in the CRM, but we can still achieve the goal.

Tom Carpenter: So, Yeah it’s pretty important I guess that goal is more customer business-focused and not ‘make a tech more usable’ objective. Even though that is obviously a nice target to have as well, but it’s not the be-all and end-all.

Sarah Rigby: Yeah, definitely. I think the importance of that shared goal is really, really valuable. Cause if you have something around reducing churn of your customers and you want to reduce it from, I don’t know, 15 to 10% for that year, which is probably quite ambitious. It’s what role does everyone actually play in doing that?

Sarah Rigby: And then you start to get that kind of cross-collaboration across the organization, opposed to it being seen as a sales target or marketing tool.

Simon Blosse: It made me think then it’s no surprise that having come from a world of retail and consumer, we spent years talking about channel transformation. So multi-channel becoming then Omnichannel then becoming digital transformations. And it’s now customer transformations that we talk about.

Simon Blosse: And there’s a reason for that is because of, I think, as you said, that’s the nature of you suddenly become a ‘oh we’re the online transformation team’. And actually what you’re trying to do is transform the way you’re interacting with customers, not just how their online interactions are changing.

Conclusion and recap

Tom Carpenter: I think we’ll probably finish there. Just to summarize a little bit of what we’ve spoken about. So really important that you do look at the business vision in sight of the customer, making sure that it considers the impacts on their journey, and at the start.

Tom Carpenter: Making sure that’s broken down, it’s not siloed to those. So it’s broken down by how the customer interacts, not necessarily by the areas.

Tom Carpenter: You will, of course, have a bottom-up essence to that vision in some ways, but in ensuring that there’s a voice of the customer to ensure that aligns back.

Tom Carpenter: We then talked a little bit about how it’s delivered. I think it was general consensus here that iterative is important. So making sure that you don’t try and transform everything and focus on the areas that are of most value, which in an ideal world is related to your customers. Ensuring that you understand the level of maturity as well, of what you can change.

Tom Carpenter: You can’t change everything. Where are the areas that will deliver the most value?

Tom Carpenter: And then towards the end, we started talking about how do we know we’re on the right track? So defining measures, metrics that relate to end results rather than interaction improvements, such as how many times a sales person uses a platform, but more so the end goal you want to achieve, which probably is retention or renewal or something like that.

Tom Carpenter: So, thank you so much for giving your insights, Sarah and Simon. Hopefully, we’ll welcome you back for another podcast at some point soon, but I’ve certainly enjoyed myself and I hope you have as well.

Sarah Rigby: Thanks for having us

Simon Blosse: Thank you.

This podcast series started withfour key areas to think about to ensure a successful digital transformation’. This episode gave a deep dive into 2/4: how to consider the business in a digital transformation. You can listen to 1/4: ‘why is considering customer experience in digital transformation essential?’ now. If you’d like to speak to Tom, Sarah, or Simon about anything discussed, please get in touch!

Want more?

READ: 5 dimensions of digital transformation, with CX at centre stage

READ: So you think you have a successful digital transformation strategy ready or in progress? See if we agree.

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