It’s surprising how the addition of one mobile channel increases the number of digital mediums of interaction. The mobile channel not only includes phones, tablets, wearables, connected devices, etc., but it also delivers an experience based on the context. When a mobile device is used at work or home, it delivers the experience of a digital medium, whereas if the same device is used at a store or a business environment, it delivers a – ‘mobile in-store experience’. In short, the concept of mobile is greatly increasing the number and types of digital experiences that are possible. The need for consistent experiences across digital mediums leads to the emergence of omni-channel consumer engagement paradigms that not only open up numerous opportunities to interact with and engage consumers, but also several challenges in delivering a consistent, seamless and compelling user experience across multiple digital channels.
Digital transformation is about identifying the opportunities offered by these multiple digital mediums that enable sales/service delivery via omni-channel in a well-orchestrated manner. This enables the user to naturally progress from one stage to the next, whether that transition is between digital mediums, between home and store or between self-service to rep-assisted service, without having to compromise on the experience at any stage of the transaction.
Why Digital Transformation?
- Omni-channel: When a customer uses the web to begin a transaction and due to any constraint, chooses to complete it through their mobile phone or tablet, omni-channel enablement allows the business to provide a seamless experience through the transaction lifecycle. Digital environments need to be transformed to enable omni-channel.
- Service driven sales: The second need for digital transformation originates from the customer behavior in which digital mediums are used for both sales and service. A seamless integration between the digital frontends, customer support backend systems and ecommerce systems is a requirement to design service-driven sales experiences.
- Integrated consumer and employee experiences: As consumers use these digital mediums in places where employee digital mediums are used to render sales as well as service, such as stores, banks and hotels, the interaction between consumer digital mediums and employee digital mediums are generating a number of opportunities for innovation. For example, consumers can use their mobile app to check-in at the bank and the proximity-enabled mobile teller tablet empowers the teller to have a personalized conversation with the customer, based on the intelligence provided by the tablet teller app. This is enabled by the data provided by the consumer app during the check-in.
- Integrating with external data: Social integration is more than adding like, share, Tweet buttons or adding social login capabilities to your apps. Often organizations rely on social login for rendering a socially personalized experience. However given the fact that social login is performed by a small fraction of consumers, the digital platform must provide the capabilities to broker, capture, track, analyze and leverage social behavior of customers including likes, shares and tweets on any digital channel that the consumer may have with the company. For example, once a banking consumer registers a social affinity towards a mortgage product, the next time he or she enters the bank, the beacon in the bank should alert the onsite mortgage specialist about the opportunity.
- Advent of wearables and connected devices: In the world of phones and apps, we expect the user to pull out the phone and perform an action whether it is generated by a need or a trigger like push notifications. With connected devices it is different. For example, as you enter your home, the beacon-powered air conditioner knows how to set the thermostat. As you wake up, the coffee maker knows what to do. When you are driving away from home, the garage door knows what to do. The world is now revolving around you. The need to integrate connected devices to your backend will require your digital stack to be upgraded.
Transforming Digital Environment
The foundational asset that is required to enable digital transformation is a “Digital Platform.” So what is a digital platform? Going back to the previous conversation of multiple digital mediums, each medium that we discussed is purely a front end that services the end user. What powers that front end with the much-needed intelligence is a backend platform that deeply integrates with the backend systems that in many cases may be a legacy system. This digital backend platform is omni-channel agnostic and uses every bit of information including just in time data from multiple channels, big data analysis, social channel and more. These back ends can no more be disparate, stove piped back ends that cannot connect the dots with what happens in other digital mediums. On the contrary, this backend is an integrated common digital backend that powers all the digital mediums and centrally orchestrates the customer journeys across these digital mediums.
The digital platform is the new layer of indirection that is solving yet another problem in computer science. It is not about upgrading or replacing an existing backend to perform the needs of a digital enterprise. It is a new digital layer that is capable of serving up the digital mediums working with the legacy backend systems. The real question is whether such digital platforms are available as off the shelf products or if they should be built at home. In most cases, we should be starting off with a product but the answer lies in the current state of the enterprise as well as the ambitions of the enterprise on the digital runway. Some enterprises may be able to implement a product and use out-of-the-box features to embark on their journey of digital transformation, while others may have some customizations to be done before the digital platform can perform to its full potential. Advice from a platform implementation partner is strongly recommended for an appropriate platform selection and to perform relevant customization to get the digital platform up and running.
The article was originally published on CMSWire on Jul 15, 2014 and is re-posted here by permission.