In my last blog, I explained what digital commerce looks like in today’s world for businesses everywhere. Now, we’ll discuss what a digital commerce transformation looks like.
Whether a business has created new leadership roles to address digital demands or not, businesses need help evolving in many areas, including:
- Knowing their customer and their current and future digital expectations
- Identifying where the business impedes or restricts realizing those expectations and building a plan to overcome them
- Planning and successfully executing upon how to evolve the people, processes, and technology within the business to a digital-first future
These are critical aspects of transforming to a digitally successful future that cannot be overlooked, such as:
Knowing the Digital Customer
There are many businesses today that have not had a direct relationship with their customer. Manufacturers, for example, often rely on value chain participants like distributors, dealers, and retailers to build and own the relationship with the end customer. These businesses now find themselves on their heels, and digital customers expect these manufacturers to have a digital presence, play a role in the way the customer evaluates and experiences the products, and be personally relevant to the customer.
Although these businesses find themselves starting near the beginning of understanding the voice of their customer, it’s critical to start to align to the expectations of a digital customer. This extends into knowing your partners, dealers, and retailers along with helping them realize that having a relationship with (over transacting with) a customer is no longer channel conflict, but is essential to aligning to the digital expectation your collective customer base demands.
Even businesses with current direct engagement with customers cannot claim they understand their customers. To become a digitally-obsessed business is to realize that digital demands evolve at an incredible speed, and what you know of your customer today is not what you need to prepare for in the very near future. Regardless of whether businesses are just starting to understand their customer or feel they know their customer very well, digital commerce trends will continue to evolve buying patterns and expectations beyond what they are today. Businesses must prioritize understanding the customer through a continual effort of an external agency or internal team.
Auditing People, Processes, and Technology against Needs
Keeping up with market trends, technology trends, disruptive forces, and evolving digital demands while maintaining a business is difficult, if not impossible. It’s a vain effort to be “heads up” and “heads down” at the same time. Bringing the right people together that can provide market and technology trends along with a clear understanding of the business and what it takes to align to digital demands is critical. Only then can a meaningful evaluation of a business’ current resources, processes, and technology occur to establish where the business is struggling and misaligned to digital customer expectations.
Having perspectives on the following are all key to critically evaluating the state of a business and identifying room for improvement:
- How technology change impacts process
- How process change impacts skill requirements
- How skill development allows for greater technological adoption
Building a Roadmap to Success and Completing the Journey
Understanding the digital customer and critically evaluating the state of a business are necessary to finding gaps between the two. However, the real complexity lies in developing a clear transformational program to close the gap and align to the digital expectations for a business. Businesses must develop a plan that evolves their digital maturity, addresses the competitive landscape, embraces technology trends, eliminates a technical debt, overcomes limitations in resources, responds to disruptive forces, and considers many other influential forces that will determine its success. The plan must allow agility, the ability to react to changing digital demands, the emergence of new disruptors, and the opportunities that come with a rapidly changing landscape. This task will determine the future success and, in some cases, even the viability of the business.
Most businesses struggle to bring together the voice of customers (VOC) and employees (VOE) with the change management and technology trends effectively to build a roadmap to a new digital future. Typically, businesses are overly accustomed to their ways, lack insight into what is technically possible, don’t know what new changes in people and processes will have a positive effect or any combination of these. Nevertheless, it’s imperative that businesses overcome these challenges and meet their digital customer on the customer’s terms. Business leaders need only look at Blockbuster and Netflix, or Amazon and Sears to find examples of this undeniable truth. How they respond determines whose fate they will share.
Let us be Your Commerce Partner
At Perficient, our team of digital commerce transformation specialists has helped businesses navigate the complexity of transforming to meet a digitally demanding customer. To find out how Perficient can help your business achieve the same success, contact our commerce experts today.