digital transformation

Digital can help CIOs to overcome the challenges of changing customer needs

By: Jayesh Shah, IT Head of DHFL

What does the phrase going digital mean? Is it about technology alone? Is it about new business processes enabled by technology? Is it about the tech savvy customer? And more importantly, why go digital? Let me try to decode this.

From times immemorial, businesses have been evolving and adopting new processes and technology to overcome the challenges of changing customer needs, regulations and the eco system. So what’s different this time? I believe it is the pace of change with which new digital business models are not only taking away market share from existing businesses but in many cases, completely disrupting them. According to Gartner’s 2015 CIO survey, almost 50% of CIOs expect that the greatest competitive threat from digital business will arise from outside the enterprise’s traditional markets and competitors.

So what is a digital business model? I believe it is the convergence of Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud with interconnected devices, with a view to delivering the best possible customer experience. Here’s how Gartner defines a digital business – it is the creation of new business designs by blurring the digital and physical worlds. It’s just a matter of time before no one makes a distinction between digital and physical or offline and online.

How does one strategise in this scenario? Is it enough to have a plan in place for IT that encompasses mobility, portals & cloud and a Marketing plan that includes social media? Not really.

The consensus is that this kind of planning without a comprehensive digital business strategy will create silos without major paybacks. The pertinent question to be answered at all times is, “would this transform the business model of the organization and what business outcomes would it deliver”.

What should be different in creating a digital strategy? The answer is customer focus. The key is to understand that this is a very different customer. They are well informed, connected, discerning and demanding. Last but not the least, they are ready to switch the moment they have a bad experience. Their expectation is to find you online at the time of their need; else they will find someone else to fulfill that need. So business must change the way they plan. Rather than planning with a fail-safe agenda, the strategy should be to go-to-market quickly. If you fail, fail fast, learn from that failure and execute the new plan. The focus always is on outcomes, rather than the grandeur of the strategy.

Let me call out a few things that are a must watch in the digital world:

  • Customer behaviour assessment
  • Customer experience – deliver the best
  • Data insights using predictive and cognitive analytics
  • Technology – while digital is not technology, it still needs technology
  • Learning fast from failures

In conclusion, I quote again from Gartner’s 2015 CEO Survey which found that over 33% of CEOs expect to attribute more than half of their revenues to digital business within five years. This means they believe digital technologies are here to stay. Success will come to those who combine their physical and digital resources in innovative ways for the customer and business.

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