Digital transformation is slowly gaining obsolescence in the vocabulary of digital business – and no doubt, all businesses today, are digital businesses. Digital transformation, once hailed as the great makeover no longer looks the same; instead, leaders across industries are increasingly opting for an incremental and continuous approach to reinventing and renovating core business enablers in today’s environment: products and platforms. In fact, successful digital transformation (if one can still call it that), finely traverses the line that bridges the function of the product and the platform, and gives way to impeccable customer experiences powered by enabling platforms that simplify the task of the cross-functional teams that support customer experience from within the organization. So, what is the secret to getting it right?
The platform-product symbiosis
Platforms and products serve markedly different functions today. Achieving a healthy symbiosis, or in other words, a feedback loop that augments the function and capabilities on either sides, forms a key aspiration for CIOs and CTOs today. This is because, that symbiosis is powered by data, and getting to a data strategy that works is a critical part of platform and product modernization today. Because platforms ease the job of employees and those serving the customers on the front lines, a key area of improvement in platform modernization is the ability to gauge what goes on at the interface of the enterprise and the customer. On the other hand, product modernization rests on improved experience delivery, which in turn, is a multivariate function of how smoothly processes, internal teams, technology, and business aspects cohere to serve the needs of the end-user.
Bringing these two aspects of a digital reinvention, enterprises can achieve a competitive and financial advantage that helps them climb the leadership ladder in their business. How is this symbiosis achieved, and how to strike the right balance?
Four cornerstones of successful transformation, revisited in 2021
In line with the rising currency of customer experience, here are four pillars of successful transformation that are quintessential to striking a symbiotic balance between platform and product modernization imperatives today.
#1 Focus on the bridge – that is, data
What bridges employee and customer experience in the digital business infrastructure is data. Looking at the data landscape of the modern business, enterprises need to focus on two key categories when it comes to data – customer data, and transactional data. While customer data is instrumental in powering personalized journeys that make sense to each and every customer, transactional data helps you measure the performance of business-technology systems, magnitude of improvements, and in the process of resolving issues as and when they occur. Data must be architected with a long-term vision, as it remains (and will remain) the bridge between platforms and products, employee and customer experience, and legacy and modern technology as new capabilities make their way into the market. Therefore, building secure, fast, and reliable access to data across the product and platform landscape of the enterprise is critical to achieving a multiplier effect on RoI of transformation initiatives.
#2 Deliver insights at the point of action
To power personalized customer journeys, platforms must take care of three key aspects of the organization’s internals: processes, governance, and ownership. Platform modernization must therefore be undertaken with a vision to internalize best practices, and align business actions with each and every known which can enhance the action taken by the employee in question. Leveraging API-based insights and analytics delivery within the platform in an environment-agnostic manner will be a key imperative for platform modernization, and the maturity of the data layer will play a key role in empowering the employees with the intelligence they need to maximize the business value of their efforts.
#3 Data-driven product modernization
Products are undoubtedly one of the key elements that impact the customer experience in a tangible manner. However, a key question that product owners face is what aspect of the product will lead to the highest returns in terms of end-user experience. To answer it, however, product owners need to take a data-driven approach to experience measurement, and develop and alter the product roadmap in line with their findings. This requires an impeccable attention to the customer journey (and this exercise takes on different forms when it comes to B2C and B2B lines) – for instance, what is the degree of utilization of features within a product portfolio? What experiences command the highest value for end-users? The answer to these questions rests within the data layer, where AI models must be deployed to contextualize customer data with transactional data, and delivered to product owners in an appropriate form.
#4 Focus on the core – that is, IT and governance
Successful digital transformations look at IT as an opportunity for impact delivery, rather than a cost black-hole. What follows from there, is the need for involvement of the IT teams in the transformation initiatives, with a simultaneous realignment of the IT infrastructure with the needs of the business and the technology layer. Spend across all categories of the IT infrastructure must be measured, and ownership of outcomes and improvements must be clearly defined. Also instrumental in achieving success in the downstream impact of platform and product modernization, is the role of AI-driven IT operations, which ultimately enable enterprises to monitor each and every cog of the infrastructure that empowers business orchestration on a day-to-day basis and minimal costs.
As businesses transact with the digital-savvy customer in today’s markets, a sharp attention to customer experience and its enablers is the key to finding success. Moreover, technologies are evolving at a faster pace now than ever before, affecting a rapid evolution of the ask from product and platform aspects. Therefore, understanding the levers that bring maximal impact on the journey of the end-user is, therefore, a critical factor that determines the success, and more importantly, the impact of successful transformation initiatives today.
- Mohit Gupta
Industry Principal – Consumer Services
Mohit Gupta is CXO’s Partner for Transformation & Innovation. He is Certified SAFe® Agilist and helps enterprises move at start-up speeds with agility business demands. He has extensive experience in consulting with CXOs in F500 – B2B and B2C Businesses. He plays a Change Agent for redefining global IT services strategy & next gen/future operating models, Transformation Roadmaps – captives, ITO, M&A, near shore set ups, and JVs. He focuses on Enhancing Customer Value with Modern Application Development Practices (Agile/DevOps), Creating Operating Models that fuel Digital Transformation, Accelerate Innovation, & Efficient Operations through Automation.
He can be reached at https://www.linkedin.com/in/mohit-gupta-a62403/
- Kevin Grayling
Vice President & CIO
Florida Crystals Corporation
Kevin Grayling is Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Florida Crystals, a vertically integrated sugar cane farming, refining and consumer packaged goods conglomerate. He is responsible for defining and executing Florida Crystals’ digital transformation strategy. Prior to joining Florida Crystals in 2017, Kevin held a number of IT leadership positions at Kraft Foods/Mondelez, most recently Global IT Transformation Program Lead and CIO for Mondelez North America. Kevin is an accomplished business leader with an expertise towards driving global IT transformation programs as part of enterprise-wide restructuring initiative, delivering harmonized IT application, infrastructure and organization. With many years of experience, he has led many teams, service providers etc. in IT infrastructure services delivered, including managing retained team of infrastructure technology service delivery experts, contract managers and architects.
He can be reached at https://www.linkedin.com/in/kevin-grayling-045b7aa/