Jonathan Sharp, Director, Britannic Technologies
This year the advancement of the digital world has accelerated with record speed and companies are embracing the change in culture that goes hand in hand with digital transformation. Digital transformation is now a reality with customers’ high expectations for a superior customer experience, forcing companies to adopt it. If they don’t, they will not survive.
Starting Out on the Journey
Digital transformation is not a race to the finish line, it is an evolutionary journey and not the end goal. Often companies race to deploy the latest and greatest technology to get on the digital bandwagon but are not sure why so the technology doesn’t deliver. The challenge that we often see is – ‘you don’t know, what you don’t know’.
Deconstructing Digital Transformation
In 2018 we have seen that companies are fearful of embarking on a digital strategy because they view it as a mammoth task that requires large budgets. However, this is not the case, it can be broken down into individual projects that are easier to gain approval and manage but make a real difference by supporting new business models, customer channels and the digital agenda.
Under the Microscope
This year we have also witnessed companies attempting the digital transformation process themselves and discovering that due to the digital landscape being increasingly complex they require help and expertise. A Solutions Provider will assist you by looking beyond the technology remit and understanding what the company’s vision, objectives and strategy is ensuring that your technology is aligned with its goals and the business.
Telling a Good Story
IT managers often come across barriers in getting approval for communications technology because they do not articulate their pitch to the Board correctly.
The art of storytelling is an effective way to break down these barriers by going back to basics to create an environment that people can identify with and understand where they want to get to and why. Everyone in the company needs to see the vision, the way forward and the benefits it will deliver to the staff, the customers and the business overall.
This year Brexit is still very much prevalent and the fear of spending has still been at the helm with companies wanting to reduce costs and extending the life of existing systems. They can’t afford to rip out existing systems and replace them and need to use what they have. The good news is that they don’t have to, they can add on technology and applications when desired. If they move to the cloud, whether that be wholly or partly they have the flexibility to protect existing investments and deploy new technology when desired, augmenting existing systems with unified communications, artificial intelligence and automation solutions to increase customer service.
Proof of Concept
During 2018 we have seen more requests for ‘testing the technology’. Cloud-based solutions make it much simpler to test out new ideas quickly. Demonstrating the art of the possible with live working systems helps contextualize how and where technology can be used to make a difference to customer specific scenarios. ‘Proof of concept’ sessions reduce the fear and risk of buying, enabling testing of what works and what doesn’t work.
Integration is the heart of Technology
Integration continues to be a challenge for companies, they are concerned that new technology won’t integrate with existing, or they have new technology in place but it is not integrated into the back and front office. Therefore they are not realising the benefits it should offer.
If the technology fails to deliver the expected results it is usually because it isn’t integrated with the existing technology at the front and the back office.
This year more than ever, companies are now realising the importance of offering a superior customer service to attract new customers and retain existing ones. The Walker Study revealed that by 2020 customer experience will have over taken both product and price as they key brand differentiators.
Customers want to contact companies using a variety of communications channels, with their communications being personalised to them and effortless to use. The objective is to offer a seamless, consistent service to customers through an omni-channel taking the customers through a series of touch points on their journey from online, to the store, to purchasing, delivery and returns.
During 2018 disruptive technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Web Real Time Communications (WebRTC) are evolving at an exponential rate and forecast to explode. Gartner predicts by 2022, 30% of customer service experiences will be handled by conversational agents.
These technologies improve business processes by increasing efficiencies and improving customer service. For example, by incorporating conversational AI as a virtual digital assistant into your contact centre – it can self-learn the content from your website and from the customer conversations that take place in webchat. Recognising and pre-empting the needs of customers, and when the enquiry is comples the customer can easily be transferred to a human agent.
A Forrester survey revealed that 64% of the survey respondents stated that a lack of a single view of information was one of their biggest challenges in CRM. A Solution Provider will be able to integrate systems together using APIs presenting agents with a single user interface where all interactions are competed on a single screen.
Companies have started to recognise that they need to reassure employees that AI and RPA will not threaten jobs but will augment their roles. It will free them from mundane daily tasks enabling them to be more efficient and productive. Companies need to show employees how to work in tandem with technology to maximize its benefit.
Growth Mindset and Culture
This year we have seen companies acknowledging the culture change that comes with digital transformation and realising that is not the technology that transforms businesses but people.
Digital transformation is not a one-off project; it is an on-going journey. It requires everyone to be aware of the vision and understand the strategy.
The change in culture needs to be embraced and companies that are not willing to change will fail. This is another barrier that we have witnessed in 2018, although we are pleased to say that this year it was less than the previous years. This is due to the acceptance that we are in the midst of a digital revolution that is here to stay. If it is not welcome then businesses will lose out.
The team driving digital transformation need to become advocates and adopt a ‘growth mindset’ culture to encourage employees to have open communications, be challenged, pitch innovative ideas and not to be scared to get it wrong or to fail.
The future belongs to companies that choose to evolve in the digital world. To not only adopt the latest unified communication technology but also embrace the culture that comes hand in hand with it, and cultivate an innovative and ‘growth mindset’ ethos. It is vital to remember that digital transformation is an evolutionary journey and not an end goal.
We look forward to 2019 to see what that brings!