We have been talking about digital transformation for many years and it has been very valuable. Predominantly these big projects focused on two things – automating high value repetitive processes to eliminate mundane tasks that were being handled by their employees and growing the organisation’s digital presence, increasing the number of channels that they operate in to reach their target audiences.
Now while that may not be telling you anything that you didn’t already know, it has taken a set of quite extraordinary circumstances, like the ones that we are experiencing now, to highlight to a lot of organisations that during their digital transformations, they had created a number of digital breakages, and those breakages are causing them a lot of trouble.
Let’s explore an example of a digital breakage. A company has automated their highly repetitive subscription renewal process, which is great for their employees and for their customers. To do so, a set of rules has been created, and any exception to those rules (like if a client doesn’t renew their subscription before a certain date) are routed to the call centre.
But right now, your clients can’t reach the call centre, because the staff can’t be there. This represents a digital breakage from one process to another. For your clients, this broken experience will either damage your reputation or send them to a competitor who can help them, both of which are detrimental to your revenue stream.
So, this begs the question what can you do to identify these breakages in your organisation and how can you address them?
1. Identify your digital breakage points
Start by really understanding the parts of your business that hand off between highly automated processes and manual processes or processes that can’t currently operate, like the call centre process in our example. This will let you identify the breakages that are occurring.
2. Take your clients’ lead
The next step is to really analyse the way that your clients are using your various digital channels. Has the uniqueness of our current situation created a new norm of behaviour in how your clients want to reach you? And how do you make sure that they can reach you when they need to? How can technology help you to facilitate that?
3. Become holistically digital
Some of the solutions may be small tweaks that you can make easily. Others might require a much deeper understanding of how digital needs to be expanded outside of those highly repetitive processes and actually needs to run across your entire technology estate.
It is at this moment that digital transformation evolves into digital necessity.
4. Don’t forget about decentralising your workplace
While digital transformation changed a lot on the surface, digital necessity is making sure that your entire estate and technology stack can support a digital way of living and working.
Going back to the call centre example – you can ask yourself a number of questions:
- How do you enable people to be able to work remotely, no matter their role?
- How can you apply the same thinking and ways of working that a nimble start-up has when you are a large enterprise?
- How do you create business continuity plans that have a back-up way of working so that you can shift processes quickly and easily to run and operate all of the services and all of the contact points that your clients require?
There is a definite need to evaluate end-user computing to identify what the technology looks like – not just related to hardware, but also to collaboration tools and security. Some inspiration can be taken from the gig economy on how to create a technology environment that allows working from anywhere, any time.
5. Bring your people along with you
Finally, we must also realise that with five generations now a part of the workforce, there will be different training requirements for different groups. Some may be able to adapt more quickly to a change in the ways we work but may lack some of the fundamental awareness on how to ensure that everything is kept secure. Allow your people to pick training modules and get access to the kind of support that they need.
To bring these five steps to life will probably require a significant investment, but you don’t need to do it all in one go. The important part is the roadmap. Then break that down into manageable projects and prioritise them depending on what is most pressing and what will best serve changing behaviours. It is taking the digital element deeper into the organisation and changing the way that we think about innovation.
Anticipate a shift from glossy initiatives to a focus on smaller process and step-change innovation that has just as much value for the business, but maybe not as much PR clout. You will be doing less of what you think your clients might want and doing more of what they absolutely need. Why not take every learning from having your relationships tested to the limit, and build an even stronger foundation for the future?