“May you live interesting times”

You’ve probably heard this old Chinese curse, and indeed, today we could all be said to be ‘cursed’ as rapid technology evolution drives social, economic and political disorder.

Huge change is not new though. Momentous transformations happen at regular intervals.  The Industrial Revolution was as much a disruption in the 19th century as the technological revolution is for us today.

‘Digital transformation’ is the new black, and let’s be honest, if you don’t transform, you’re unlikely to survive.  Research from Credit Suisse shows that the average age of an American S&P 500 company is under 20 years, down from 60 years in the 1950s.  The decline is attributed to disruption from technology.

So, if we accept change is no longer a choice, where do you start on your digital transformation journey? Here are five tips to help you navigate these tricky waters.

Think about leadership

It won’t happen without leaders committed to the digital age.  Company leaders must not only understand digital practices but be open-minded to innovation, to new ways of doing things and to investing in the tools their teams will need to deliver digital transformation for their organisations.

Put your customer at the centre of your business

More than ever, you need to be in tune with what customers want from you – not what you THINK they want.  How does your market interact with your organisation?  Do they like to use websites, interactive apps, social media?  You must understand how to reach to reach them and what propositions to make to them.  If you understand how your customers behave at every stage of their relationship with you, you are much better armed to meet their needs.  And your friend in discovering all this information is data.

Measure the things that matter

You’ve got 3000 followers on Twitter.  Great!  Is it helping your business? Vanity figures like this don’t give you real hard facts about customer engagement.  Instead, you should be looking at how you measure the lifetime value of a client.  This is how much the customer is worth to you over the whole length of their relationship with you.  We are all familiar with a Return on Investment, but today’s companies look at Return on Experience. It’s more about measuring individual results that changes to the customer experience bring to positively affect the  customer life-time value

Don’t segregate

Sharing information and data across departments is essential.  There should be no ‘digital’ department; it affects every aspect of the organisation.  Restricting communication between departments leads to misunderstandings, replication of work and poor relationships.  Instead, embed digital across the company, and bring your teams together with a common focus and shared vision.

Empower your team

At the heart of any digital transformation is people.  You need to give them the skills and knowledge they need to deliver digital transformation for the organisation.  Ongoing learning is the key to instilling a digital culture.  And when your team is empowered, with the tools and knowledge they need, you find your customer satisfaction rises, along with staff morale and productivity.  Microsoft Japan overcame deeply held traditions in the country to implement cloud technology. Their initiative produced quite staggering results. Over 3000 productivity hours gained and $10,000 in annual savings per employee.

So, the digital disruption, with the Internet of Things, Big Data, virtual reality, artificial intelligence and ever more powerful computing capability will continue.  For those who embrace the change, for change is inevitable, there are great opportunities.  Indeed, we are living in interesting times.

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