Digital transformation: 4 ways to create a sense of urgency

Staying competitive in today's turbulent environment requires a solid digital transformation strategy. Consider these tips to bring increased urgency
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In the last 18 months, entire industries were pushed to make decisions in days that would typically be debated and planned for months or even years. Customer-facing brands, in particular, were forced to cope with rapid, unpredictable changes in supply, demand, and logistics.

Adding to these challenges, a recent survey found that nearly 40 percent of respondents give a business only one chance to provide a satisfactory digital experience before moving to another supplier. With just one opportunity to make a lasting impression, many enterprises have made it a top business priority to create more personalized customer experiences. 

Here are four key actions that will bring increased urgency to your digital transformation strategies.

1. Shift away from legacy systems and closed ecosystems

Modern technology stacks evolve in a matter of weeks and months rather than years. To be able to integrate and adapt to the newest solutions, technology should be open and adaptable – effectively future-proofing your company’s business and data infrastructure systems.

2. Bring together business vision and technical know-how

recent article from McKinsey highlighted the need for CIOs to understand how to leverage technology and drive business value. Your company’s digital transformation must be shaped and guided by business outcomes, with infrastructure improvements deployed as benchmarks along the way. Both aspects need to be thoughtfully designed to achieve success.

[ Where is your team's digital transformation work stalling? Get the eBook: What's slowing down your Digital Transformation? 8 questions to ask. ]

People with technical know-how should understand the business and strategic mechanics at a level that allows them to inform their work and influence the work around them. Exposing your team members to the decisions and data enables them to build their business acumen over time and contribute along the way.

To help boost the business education of your IT team members, encourage them to focus on the customer, remove unnecessary silos at the organizational level, and foster transparency and communication – even with those whose role may be more distant from the customer and the strategic decisions of the business.

3. Use artificial intelligence to speed up data-driven decisions

The fastest human analyst will never be able to keep pace with artificial intelligence (AI) when it comes to collecting and processing information. Designing and deploying AI and machine learning models can kickstart your company’s business operations, driving a constant sense of urgency for business enhancements while also increasing the speed at which business leaders can make data-informed decisions.

AI initiatives should always begin with the end customer, targeting a concrete problem and a clear idea of how to measure success. When an AI initiative fails, it’s often because it was launched in search of a problem it never managed to identify.

When an AI initiative fails, it's often because it was launched in search of a problem it never managed to identify.

4. Stay attuned to external influences

Look no further than trends on Instagram or TikTok to understand that consumer behavior is changing faster than ever before. If you keep your finger on the pulse of these influencers, you will naturally develop a sense of urgency to react to shifting buying behaviors.

During the early days of the pandemic, this was a matter of organizing new business functions (like curbside pickup) and increased investments in post-purchase experience (like frictionless returns). Customer trends are easy to find because they are prominent throughout culture, news, and social media.

The question is, how do you separate the signal from the noise? Start by trying to find the data that will make a trend tangible without being influenced by recency bias. Data makes it possible to interrogate what led to a particular trend and what it means for the future.

The customer experience has remained front and center throughout all the changes introduced by the pandemic. While we can’t predict what’s coming next, it’s a safe bet that companies that manage and learn from data insights will come out on top.

There’s no better time for your company to accelerate its digital transformation. With strong executive support and a vision for the future, you can begin gathering the customer data needed to gain an edge.

[ Want more advice? Watch the on-demand webinar, The future of leading digital innovation: What's next?, with Nancy Giordano, plus Red Hat's Margaret Dawson and IDC's Nancy Gohring. ]

Derek Slager is the CTO and Co-Founder of Amperity. Derek co-founded Amperity to create a tool that would give marketers and analysts access to accurate, consistent, and comprehensive customer data.