Business as usual is over. Today, the explosion of technology choices means that your company is battling for the attention of digitally-adept customers against nimble startups determined to knock you out of the race.
To win at digital transformation, you must keep your eyes focused on the road ahead and your foot firmly planted on the accelerator. You must also continually optimise your technology and strategies to gain efficiencies that will keep your organisation running its best.
In the mid-1950s, there wasn’t a Formula One car on earth that could compete with the Maserati 250F. Spanish racer Juan Manuel Fangio raced a 250F to a fabled come-from-behind victory in the 1957 German Grand Prix, breaking 9 course records in 10 laps, including 7 in a row.
Legendary British driver Sterling Moss has cited it as his favourite racecar of all time. Yet, while the 241hp 250F ruled the sport back then, it would be lapped many times over by today’s top vehicles. In business, as in Formula One, past winners are falling by the wayside, blindsided by competitors with keener foresight, superior technology and the ability to recalibrate on the fly.
In order to take and maintain a lead in your industry’s digital race, there are three fundamental components every company should optimise:
Understanding digital consumers’ biases, behaviours and expectations at each point along the customer journey must be at the heart of every successful digital transformation. Those insights help align executives, departments and employees across the organisation. “Digital transformation is more than just digital,” according to a recent Altimeter report. “It’s about remodelling businesses to be agile, innovative and customer-centric at their core.”
The customer experience (CX) should be the framework for digital transformation—and it’s the chassis that you’ll mount your sleek new digital transformation engine on. Think of it this way: if you bolted a Mercedes PU106B Hybrid Turbo V6 engine (the 850hp beast behind the Mercedes F1 W06 Hybrid—the most dominate F1 racecar of all time) to your old 250F frame, you wouldn’t get very far before the entire vehicle tore itself apart.
Of course, there can be no “digital” transformation without the digital. The technologies you adopt will ultimately determine whether you end up in the winners’ circle or find yourself sidelined with a blown engine. One thing is certain—the days of the monolithic IT enterprise are over.
Today’s consumers are more connected, social and mobile than ever before. In parallel, employees are bringing those same preferences into the workplace. That means businesses must adapt by emulating those attributes with new flexible, contextual systems—both customer-facing and internal—that create holistic customer and employee experiences.
Systems must unite processes, teams and functions to empower communication and collaboration across departments, functions, geographies and even external customer or partner stakeholders. In addition to breaking down silos, those solutions must encourage an open and transparent culture. That’s because today’s workers want more from employers than simply a paycheck—they want meaningful experiences with honest companies that are giving back to their communities and the world.
Once you’ve streamlined your systems, you can’t just “set them and forget them.” To keep your digital transition running smoothly, you’ll need to continually fine-tune it. Increasingly, the right tools for the job are a smart cloud strategy and microservices: small APIs and components (or both) that “do one thing and do it well.” Microservices allow optimal efficiency by decoupling components so that, if a single piece of a system goes down, it doesn’t take the entire application down with it.
Flexibility is crucial in modern winner-take-all markets in which the pace of innovation is “unrelenting.” A solid chassis and a powerful, finely-tuned engine won’t get you far without a dedicated team, all working together toward the same goals. In Formula One racing, a pit crew must be able to change a car’s tires, adjust the front wings and replace damaged parts in mere seconds. You’ll need to develop comparable efficiencies in your well-oiled workforce.
The Finish Line
In business as in Formula One, innovators win races while laggards fall behind, drop out or crash. A strong CX-based framework is the foundation for a winning digital transformation. You’ll also need to develop internal processes that allow for rapid, agile reorganisation and resource allocation.
Your systems should let you easily communicate your mission while giving employees the freedom to collaborate across silos. Nobody ever said change was easy, but by constantly adapting to changes in the marketplace and seeking new opportunities, you’ll be well on your way to capturing the checkered flag in your own digital transformation race.