4 July 2017
Few initiatives have arrived with the promise, scale and hype of digital transformation. And IT are right in the thick of it. Few departments stand to gain as much; few will experience as much pressure to succeed.
Already, the pitfalls are well-documented: misaligned agendas between IT and the business; lack of engagement; the cultural challenges of imposing new tech. It’s nearly impossible to attempt an initiative on the scale of digital transformation without widespread agreement, awareness, and a willingness to embrace cultural change.
But there’s another, less obvious pitfall. Cutting-edge technology. Hybrid cloud environments. Evolving towards a data-driven culture. These are exciting, game-changing – potentially career-defining – opportunities. Left unchecked, they will also lead to a heady bout of naval-gazing that has nothing whatsoever to do with the one group of people this is supposed to be about: your customers.
If that happens, digitisation risks being hijacked as a cost-saving initiative, or used as an excuse to buy lots of bleeding-edge technology with no evidence of any customer use cases. (Cost savings aren’t a problem, but they’re not an end-game either. ‘Digitally active’ companies know this.)
The thing is, when digital transformation loses its way – when the tools obscure the blueprint – we risk forgetting to do the simple, easy, but incredibly effective things we used to do so well.
Things like actually talking to our customers.
They’ve told us in no uncertain terms that they still value voice communication more so than email, chat and video. And we’re missing a trick: 73% of IT decision-makers told us they think voice is under-used by their organisation.
In short: our customers love it, we know they love it, but we’re still not doing it properly.
The key to fixing this lies in how we frame the problem. It’s not a question of the primacy of one channel over the other, but about how they complement each other in the context of digital transformation. Because unless you retain an unbroken link between digital transformation and your customers, voice as a channel is going to be left behind. Putting the customer front and centre of your initiative will ensure that nobody forgets how important it is to actually talk to them.
This is not to say that prioritising voice means hanging onto legacy systems – far from it. Including voice in your digital transformation agenda could mean investing in hosted voice, and ending your reliance on on-premise hardware altogether. And by shifting it to the cloud, you further drive the transformation of the IT department from one of service and maintenance into a strategic partner to the business. Less time fixing things – more time deciding on the things that matter.
The driving force behind digital transformation is not simply to be ahead of the competition. It’s about realigning the technology, people and culture of a business around the needs of the customer in order to win their loyalty and trust. Whoever earns the greatest share will automatically be front of the pack. After all, it’s the change in consumer expectations that has created a market for new technology – not the other way round.
It just so happens that in the midst of all this transformation, one thing remains unchanged: people still like to talk.
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4 July 2017 | Cem Ahmet
The views in this article are the personal views of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Gamma.