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Three steps to jumpstart your digital transformation

The digital transformation myth

by Norman Doucet, James Janega, and Oliver Amidei

Digital transformation. Read the myriad of articles, whitepapers, social media posts, and branded marketing campaigns on this topic, and it starts to seem like a unicorn—beautiful yet impossible. Most think digital transformation is daunting, time-consuming, and costly in terms of people, processes, and technology. But it doesn’t have to be.

You can jumpstart your transformation without capital investments. Needs and gaps will emerge along the way, but the key is to get moving. By adapting your plans as your knowledge and experience grow, your digital transformation will address known needs instead of unknown unknowns. This will improve speed and efficiency and will help ensure that your efforts are tied to strategic goals.

First, your organization needs to ask itself this question: Is our objective to become a customer-focused company? If the answer is yes, these are the three actions in terms of customer utility that you should take right now to jumpstart your digital transformation—and get quick wins.

1. Customer 180

A single view of the customer—“Customer 360”—is where you want to be long-term. But getting there takes considerable change in technology, data, and governance. For “Customer 180,” you gather the data you currently have and any new data you can reasonably acquire (without additional investment) about your customers, and ask colleagues in other departments to do the same. Begin to frame the conversation around an individual customer's experience with your entire brand, rather than around a single part of that customer's journey that is controlled by one internal group.

Ask yourself, Is there any part of a customer's experience that could inform another? What insights would help us get there? If you’re a marketer, ask your sales colleagues for their customer data, with the goal of leveraging it and enriching it with your own data for better marketing efforts. Look for what’s duplicated, missing, and new—and put it in a database (Excel works well, here). Then share that consolidated data with everyone in the organization.

Use all of the information to run targeted campaigns or sales efforts. You don’t need to rip out and install new databases or cloud architecture, or hire folks to do this. You’ll need to make a capital investment in customer data management eventually, but using the systems and data you currently have from across your organization provides valuable context to your customers, and doesn’t cost much. It also demonstrates, from the beginning, the value of combined customer insights, which is a powerful way to develop and maintain organizational interest in further digitization efforts. It may not be perfect or real-time, but Customer 180 can be enough to start increasing revenue.

2. Start measuring the right things

How does the number of website visitors, app downloads, or number of sales leads impact your top-line growth? In our experience, those answers are often hard to come by. One major symptom of a siloed organization is multiple KPIs that align to a specific channel responsibility—like social engagement or total web visits—rather than customer impact. Measuring the efficiency of a channel can help guide internal teams, but it's more important to determine the efficacy among all digital efforts.

Hone in on (or create) KPIs that have or should have revenue impacts. Validate them to see if they do or don't. Then, trace their relationship to other metrics. A clearer picture about the usefulness of your metrics will begin to emerge along with better insights into costs.

The goal is to develop a simple, measurable, integrated, and traceable set of attributes that you can marry with your Customer 180 efforts to tell the story of how those efforts impact your revenue goals. One of our colleagues here at Slalom developed a case study that elaborates on this idea

3. Leadership equity

Senior leaders should align around a common and shared set of goals for the organization. This alignment creates a single focus and encourages companies to break through departmental barriers. It may take an organizational change expert to help remove those barriers completely, but to begin, senior leadership should meet at regular intervals.

To remain competitive in a customer-led, technology-driven economy, every business function has to work seamlessly together. By simply increasing exposure between internal leaders to share tasks and ideas, the chances of success grow—and it costs no additional dollars.

While focusing on all three of these actions simultaneously would be ideal, the most important takeaway is to start somewhere. Don't delay. Waiting on the perfect plan, budget, and team can do more harm than good. If you’re waiting and doing more of the same, you’re leaving it up to your competitors to define your relevance.

This post was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse.

James Janega is no longer with Slalom.