How Critical Frameworks Ground Digital Operations Journeys and Lead to Successful Transformation Initiatives

For older, established companies looking to integrate new technologies into their business processes, there is an element of friction that impedes moving forward to take up true digital transformation. Aside from an underlying resistance to change, the concept of legacy presents a challenge. Legacy thinking woven throughout the organizational culture can be difficult to change. Non-digital native companies also have legacy systems in which they have invested finances, time, training and other resources. Finally, there are the legacy processes that are linked to staff behaviors and are often deeply-rooted. So companies considering implementing a digital transformation must recognize that the whole organization has to be on board.

Much of what is driving these companies’ interest toward moving in vital, new directions stems from the desire to incorporate data-based evidence and data-based decision-making. Yet, there is still resistance to data-based evidence. It is my belief that a change of culture, and transformation, comes down to trust and having humans in the center of the process. To bring about culture change and defeat resistance you need people with expertise who can layout a new framework and confidently lead the charge in a new direction.

Frameworks Connect Current Operations to Digital Transformation

What makes frameworks so integral to this process is the way they help organizations look at making this type of transition. Transformation is about organizations improving their existing processes while keeping the focus on long term objectives. It’s not about simply getting additional tools that will only serve in the short term. Having a framework in place provides a roadmap and offers the proper context of the time — typically 2 to 5 years — to achieve a successful transformation.

It is common to see large organizations rush into transformation initiatives in an effort to avoid disruption. But, without understanding the proper time horizon that is necessary, companies can misstep and not think through all the digital operations within the business.

As a recent example, I was shopping at a large brick and mortar retailer and needed to make a combination of transactions that included e-commerce and in-store purchases. I needed to pick up some items I had purchased in the store and exchange items that I had purchased online. What quickly became clear is that these two areas of the business were not connected. The retailer had incorporated e-commerce into their business process but first, they neglected to pin down their operations. Secondly, they did not tie a platform and framework on top of the front-end sales process to the customer experience, and as a result, I had a frustrating and time-consuming experience as a shopper.

My next experience was completely different. I visited an extremely successful retailer in the United States that began as an e-commerce company, but they have now launched a small, select number of brick and mortar storefronts. Walking around this retailer’s location I felt as if I was in a physical e-commerce environment. I was able to return and exchange purchases made — both online and in physical stores — in a completely seamless manner.

The stark difference was that the second retailer started by carefully thinking through all of their digital operations and then integrating the customer experience.

Successful Transformation Begins with Enterprise-Wide Coordination

The lesson that my recent retail experience highlights is that organizations must align their operations team with their sales and marketing team and it must be a coordinated effort across the whole of the organization. Every action step should be taken with the global and long-term objectives in mind.

Another way that I like to think about this is by visualizing three intersecting circles. The first circle represents the companies or industries that are already engaged in digital transformation. The second represents organizational operations, and the third circle is customer experience. By focusing on the place where all three circles overlap organizations increase their chances of successful digital transformation initiatives.

Service-Oriented Approach Reduces Friction and Offers New Revenues

Amidst the conversations around digital operations and digital transformation, large organizations are beginning to finally recognize the full value of the customer’s point of view.

This affects things in a couple of ways, the first is that a customer-centric focus reconfigures what success looks like. Instead of attending to how a change to the network affects the behavior of connected devices, personnel train their attention on how the network change impacts service to the customer. The second benefit is that customer-centricity creates a shared vocabulary that cuts across all disciplines in the organization.

Currently, I see this as the main driver for new dollars and new revenue.

There are new companies that have been extremely successful by focusing on the customer experience. But even established companies, such as telcos, are reducing churn and adding new customers in today’s increasingly competitive market as they have started to focus on being more service-oriented.

At Vitria, we’ve developed our VIA platform for digital transformation to provide the type of underlying framework for the digital operations journey that I have been describing. Our goal is to break down silos and provide real-time operational insights across all areas of an organization that enhance the customer experience.

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