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Top Three Traps in Digital Transformation

Top Three Traps in Digital Transformation 3

Digital Transformation seems to be on everybody’s lips these days; from convenience stores building staffless stores, banks building retail stores, all the way through to pure play giants like Amazon building actual physical stores.

Leveraging the power of Digital and connecting customers to real life experiences in physical spaces has never been more present or more palatable.

And although we can look to amazing success stories such as the Toyota Car Configurator, the Naraffar staffless store in Sweden, and even our own Telstra Discovery Stores here in Australia there are FAR more failures then there are successes.

So, what can lead these projects into an early grave? – or even worse, let them grow and expand only to fail once they’re firmly in the spotlight?

Letting Technology Dictate Transformation

I can’t tell you the number of meetings I have where we’ve had a hardware manufacturer pushing a product because of features or benefits; without any steerage from the business on strategic direction or end state in mind.

As sinful as that is; the real elephant in the room is letting technical limitations restrict the scope of the transformation project.

The moment that a project lets either the features or limitations of technology control the SCOPE we’ve already lost.

Sure, every project needs to be grounded in reality, and we need to find the best solution within the most reasonable budget – but this needs to happen well after we’ve defined what success looks like.

Letting Property Dictate Placement

Now don’t even get me started on the frustrations this causes everyone apart from Property.

Because a lot of digital transformation is presented through a mounted screen, the implementation of these projects is often relegated to the end of the queue on the construction project.

Looking at the store design, customer flow, intent of the messaging, where there are dwell zones and where there is walk-past traffic; these metrics do a good placement make.

Unfortunately in many and more projects the placement of a screen is decided NOT on ‘how can we best communicate with customers’, and is decided much more based on ‘where do we have a Power & Ethernet socket and some free wall space’.

If there was only a single recommendation that I could make, it would be to plan the layout and customer experience incorporating digital into the design from the start.

Letting Integration block Implementation

Finally, let’s talk about integration. I’m one of the biggest advocates of single point of entry for data, personalised service to customer, real time recognition and reward after purchase, and a consistent experience no matter how I choose to interact with a brand.

In saying that, the day an integration project is initiated before trialing a digital transformation initiative is the day the project dies. Integration can and usually is painful, expensive, and time consuming. The best fuel to power one of these projects is… SUCCESS!

If we push ideas in ‘Beta’ out to customers and make a genuine attempt to provide a great experience in a humble manner and ask for feedback we’ll learn rapidly and with great granularity exactly what features, continuity, and personalisation customers want – but more importantly we’ll find out if they even want to use the solution in the first place.

You can call it prototyping, ideation, Proof of Concepts, Trials or anything you like really – the point is simple and remains the same: Test your assumptions first and fast; learn what works and invest in what your customers & staff want.

In Conclusion

The answer to these maladies isn’t a silver bullet, nor a golden path. In reality it’s the path of most resistance; and challenges a business to realise that Digital Transformation isn’t about technology at all; but about Strategic Leadership and Business Transformation.

We need to see top down support, and multiple departments and vendors working together to make real change that improves the experience for staff & customers first; and balance sheets second.


Top Three Traps in Digital Transformation – Ben Smith

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