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The Digital Future: Anywhere, Anytime & Anyplace

June 23, 2014

Harpeeet is an experienced IT consultant with strong strategic, analytic, architectural and leadership skills. His has broad experience in IT management, architecture and has lead teams in various projects. He specializes in IT architecture, Program governance, IT roadmaps and strategy.

He is positive, results-driven and innovative individual with proven success in balancing operational synergies and business growth with client satisfaction, offering over 13 years’ experience in management and architecture positions in world-class organisations within the IT industry.

He is presently working as Program Architect for Department of Attorney General & Justice. He has been involved in architecture road map for the overall design and is working to establish synergy between various programs to be hosted in cloud environment.

Harpreet has passion for IT Strategy and Architecture, Adventure Sports and Travelling.

He can be contacted on harpreet.bhatia@outlook.com

Introduction

Smart-phones and tablets are having a dramatic impact on the digital media experience. They’re creating a new world in which content is available on-demand and can be streamed anywhere and anytime. It’s this immediacy of online content that is the game changer for the media sector and, combined, these forces are changing the way people consume television, music, movies and news.

The writing is on the wall for all enterprises in traditional consumer model and digital world, over the next several years, they will have to adapt to this increasingly mobile world. The question is, will they define that future or will it define them? The digital future promises various outcomes and in this paper we are discussing some of the options that will define the way we work and live in the future digital age.

The 4 Pillars of digital future

Mobile, cloud, social media, and analytics are tools that have given birth to an age where technology has become the foundation of any successful business—a prime driver of market differentiation, business growth, innovation, adaptability, collaboration and profitability. In short, every business is now a digital business the successful companies are ones that have a full management support. The major growth areas are:

  • Mobility through apps and smart devices;
  • Cloud computing to reduce cost;
  • Social Media as an enabler for business marketing; and
  • Big data empowering data analytics to predict trends.

Organisation that are already either thinking or are walking the path of the digital age will need business commitment to achieve their organisational targets. Few of those support process are explained below:

  • Strategic investments in digital technology that can help them engage with customers and grow.
  • Adoption of mobile technologies and applications at an early stage will gear them towards achieve specific business objectives. Organisation will have to develop formal strategies in all spheres of business to align towards digital change.
  • Numerous challenges like strategic, operational shortcomings in adopting mobility have made it difficult for companies to take full advantage of mobility’s promise especially, struggles in the rollout of mobile capabilities, a lack of formal metrics to measure effectiveness, and insufficient funding for mobile priorities.
  • Business and senior leadership commitment throughout the lifecycle of the digital change is quite important as they will be responsible for driving the initiative towards change and growth.

Leading the digital business

Digital technologies have considerable potential to transform the ways in which companies create revenue and results via innovative strategies, products, processes and experiences. Of the major digital technologies which include mobility, social media, big data analytics and the cloud, mobility has risen to the top in terms of importance to organizations.

Top management view their investment in digital technologies as a strategic investment geared to helping their companies grow. Additionally, it is expected that digital technologies would help organization increase sales in existing markets and generate additional revenue, build an entirely new digital business or service, keep pace with customer demands, and penetrate new markets. As digital technologies continue to evolve, companies are looking to gain a foothold with a new slate of emerging tools that can help them build on the investments they have already made.

Focus is on Mobility

Given mobility is a key enabler of the digital business – mobility has been an area of strong focus among companies in various fields. Most of the organizations are waking up to formulating strategy to aggressively pursue and invested in mobile technologies across their business and consider mobility a key part of their business strategy. Mobility initiatives have been guided by a formal mobility strategy—either one that spans the enterprise or strategies developed for specific business units or functions in an organization.

Mobile Applications

In addition to strategy, the mobile application is another important factor in the success of mobility. The two most commonly named areas of growth are – improving existing mobile apps so they are more effective in engaging and retaining customers, and secondly growing their overall mobile presence by launching new apps.

Connected products

Connected products, which are already penetrating and transforming many businesses and industries, are an increasing area of interest. Major growth has been recorded in connected vehicle (public transport tracking, supply chain logistics tracking etc.) as most relevant to their business, closely followed by building or plant solutions for monitoring various functions of the industry via real time applications. Another area of potential growth is expected to be in the consumer goods industry via wearable, sensor-based devices offer promise for their business.

Traditional to Digital Customer Model

Approximately one in three of these consumers access product and services at least half of the time through their mobile phone or tablet device, much more so in emerging markets. While customers move at different speeds and take different paths, every customer is now a digital customer, from the traditional customer to the digital-savvy one. For most businesses this means a new customer model is required. Enabled by technology, customers expect to easily control and vary their routes within and across channels to suit their needs at any given moment. A customer’s path to purchase used to be generally predictable, flowing through stages of awareness, consideration, evaluation, purchase and use.

Today the journey is continuous because the touch points consumers are exposed to be always on, and customers can constantly re-evaluate their purchase options. It is easier for customers to compare a provider’s promise versus delivery, and how the overall experience matches up to their own expectations. It is also far more difficult for companies to design or fully control the customer experience. Companies that play to win recognize that today’s customers will define their own experience based on their personal expectations and needs.

Traditional Model

Awareness → Consideration → Evaluation → Purchase → Use.

Digital Model

Digital Model is relevant to digital behaviours, and investment in customer and enterprise capabilities that have the highest impact. Companies that deliver customer experiences that are noticed and valued base their customer blueprint on five core elements:

Predict customer behaviour: Hyper-relevance implies that companies are able to be a step ahead of the customer. Predicting consumer behaviour and, using knowledge of their needs and interests, customizing the interaction with the consumer at any point in time in any channel. This requires companies to efficiently utilize “big data” including information mined from social media and other channels and deploy advanced analytics to generate the insights needed to take actions to stay one step ahead of customers.

Digital customer relationships: A new level of intimacy with consumers is now possible, but it requires companies to redefine how they create trusting relationships with customers, not just online but offline as well. Digital becomes the glue for all types of interactions (face-to-face, online or offline) enabling companies to develop trusted relationships. It necessitates new capabilities to listen, learn and mass personalize customer interactions. It warrants an investment in technology and capabilities that achieve intimacy while effectively addressing privacy and security concerns.

Seamless experience: It is seen that consumers on average use up to six different channels for prospecting, with a majority relying on both digital and traditional channels. Most companies understand they need several channels to interact with customers. Nonetheless, many providers embarked on a multi channel model by “bolting on” new channels to their traditional channel model, failing to create a truly integrated view of the customer. The result falls short of offering the customer a seamless multi channel experience. To create seamless experiences based on the changing dynamics of the digital customer, companies cannot build up digital channels while keeping traditional channels and interactions also in play. Focusing solely on increasing digital capabilities is not sufficient. Instead, they should look at the outcomes they want to deliver and reverse engineer to identify what must change in channel mix and capabilities.

Being mobile: The mobile channel’s importance to consumers throughout the sales and service relationship with a provider is established and growing. Use and importance of mobile interactions is much more important in emerging markets than in mature ones. The potential customer retention benefit for those companies that create compelling mobile interactions is substantial. Building more availability of mobile service and support capabilities emerges as an area to develop.

Social Media: Social media has fundamentally changed the ways in which people interact. It is no longer a channel distinctly separated in consumers’ minds. Instead it’s the “new normal”— just another way for consumers to communicate, collaborates and gets information. As such, the power balance has shifted from companies to consumer as they can easily “raise their voice,” control the interaction process, and collaborate and co-create with other customers. Social is not just a new channel for pushing information to consumers. It’s about changing the channel’s function to listen, understand what consumers think and want, and use that insight to engage them in valuable interactions. Leading organizations are using the power and reach of social media to harness insights, create relevance, hone relationships and target stakeholders in a more meaningful and trusted way.

Digital Challenges

ROI metrics are not well defined

While there is considerable interest in and enthusiasm for mobility, most organizations still have much work to do to make mobility a core—and beneficial—element of their business. It is seen that a lot of organizations efforts to date have not lived up to expectations due to a number of strategic, organizational and operational challenges that have made it difficult for companies to take full advantage of mobility’s promise. Most companies have not made substantial progress toward the mobility priorities that are important to their business.

Mobility impact areas are not that clear

Another common shortcoming relates to determining where and how mobility can have the greatest impact. It is seen that organization doesn’t have a formal process for identifying, evaluating, and prioritizing ways mobility can benefit their business. Various reasons for failure to catch the bandwagon due to inability to keep pace with new mobile devices, systems, and services; no clearly defined, centralized ownership of mobility initiatives within the organization; failure to develop new, or redesigned business processes etc. to better incorporate mobility services; and lack of internal and external skills necessary to properly plan and execute mobility initiatives.

IT hasn’t joined the party

Behind the scene is also inability of IT divisions not investing their resources in digital initiatives It is seen that shortcomings related to the actual rollout of mobile capabilities are likely preventing organizations from making greater progress. These include current systems and infrastructure that cannot smoothly accommodate new mobile technologies; lack of a robust blueprint to guide adoption and no formal, robust methodology for developing mobile applications that spans development, testing, distribution, and updating. Developing and maintaining mobile apps is an area that also has specific challenges. The most common of these are largely related to the technologies involved such as performance issues (e.g., crashes and bugs that lead to bad customer reviews), user experience issues that dissuade customers from using the app, and issues that make it difficult for target customers to find or access the app.

Tips for success

While it is clear organizations are either trying to or have embraced mobility conceptually and are making considerable strides in infusing the technology into their everyday operations, there are a number of things they could do to help generate greater returns on their mobility investments. For example, companies should consider the advanced mobility practices that correlate strongly with return on mobility investments.

At a high level, leaders are distinguished from other companies by a more ambitious, strategic and cross company approach to mobility that’s backed by active involvement of the company’s senior leadership, a substantial monetary commitment to developing mobile capabilities, and a superior methodology for developing and deploying mobile apps.

Consider the full range of digital technologies to be among their top five priorities in the next year, and to expect to use those technologies to build an entirely new digital business or service rather than simply improve upon the existing business.

Have a formal enterprise-wide mobility strategy instead of separate strategies for individual business units or functions, and use that strategy to inform their mobile investments.

Indicate the CEO and the leadership team or board of directors ultimately owns their mobile strategy, and that their company’s senior leadership are highly engaged with the organization’s mobility initiatives.

Have aggressively pursued and invested in mobile technologies across their business and consider mobility a key part of their business strategy.

Be focusing on creating an enterprise mobile app store or catalogue to make it easier for internal users to access them, and have a formal and robust methodology for developing mobile apps that spans development, testing, distribution, and updating.

References

Palmer, D & Jain, N., 2013, Global Consumer Pulse Research 2013: Digital Customer, viewed 15 April 2014