How Business Leaders Should Think About Digital

Digital is not just your organizational website(s) or Facebook page (though those are two components of digital). Digital should be framed as a transformative enabler that allows organizations to:

  • Engage customers in a two-way dialogue
  • Change the way your organization delivers products and services
  • BizIntelCollect business intelligence.

Let me expand on each of these points:

Engage Customers in a Two-Way Dialogue

Digital technologies have caused a paradigm shift in the relationship between organizations and consumers. Consumers today are in the driver seat with unprecedented access to information, and their peer groups (e.g. social media, ratings & reviews).

They are no longer satisfied with a paternal relationship where they are told which product or service is best for them. They want to be well-informed and take an active role in the decision-making process. In other words, they want to have a conversation with the provider in arriving at the best solution for them.

This is where digital comes in. It’s not feasible for businesses, particularly the ones in the low margin, mass market, to provide high touch services to every single customer to the nth degree.

Digital enables businesses to create ‘pseudo-conversations’ that meet the customer expectations in scalable ways that make business sense. For example, Sun Life provides educational information, comparison and needs analysis tools to enable prospects to assess their insurance needs.

Some other businesses take it one step further and invite other customers into that dialogue as way to help inform and aid the decision-making process of prospects. For example, the Finnish insurance company, If P&C Insurance, connects 800+ policy holders with prospects so prospects can hear about the experience of existing customers first-hand.

Change the Way Your Organization Delivers Products and Services

Empowered consumers not only want to have a two-way dialogue, they also want to research and purchase products and services wherever and whenever they want through self-service.

BizIntel_2Organizations can harness this preference to better meet the customer needs and improve operational efficiencies – a win-win for the business and the customer.

We already see many businesses harnessing this preference from offline to online. An example in the offline world would be self-service frozen yogurt bars (e.g. Yogurty’s) where customers can choose from a variety of flavours and toppings through self-service – enjoying both variety and valued pricing. Online, companies like Legal Zoom have altered the way they deliver simple legal services (e.g. will, trademark) by enabling customers to self-serve in certain parts of the process (e.g. enter personal information, conduct your own self-assessment through online tools). This allows Legal Zoom to focus their scarce and expensive legal expertise on high value activities, to differentiate themselves from other legal firms and to provide customers with high satisfaction through convenience and value pricing.

We actively work with our clients to find ways to deliver products and services leveraging digital technologies in order to better meet the needs of their customers, to improve operational efficiencies and differentiate from the cluttered marketplace.

Changing the way one does business also includes internal facing processes. For example, Delvinia worked with one of our long-standing financial services clients to develop a marketing portal with conversational mechanisms. Their large marketing and sales force can now more effectively communicate about the marketing material created, with practical mechanisms such as ratings and reviews. The functionalities and analytics on the portal enabled this leading financial services firm to continuously improve its marketing collateral to effectively support its sales team.

Collect Business Intelligence

One of the key strengths of digital is its ability to collect business intelligence affordably, at scale and in real-time. We are now at a point in human history where we can affordably process large amounts of data in real-time and do something meaningful with it quickly.

e-Retailers, with digital and data built into their DNA, are great candidates to learn from. They commonly collect real-time data on their customer preferences and barriers to purchase. For example, Amazon provides recommendations based on your viewing and purchase history. Some e-retailers also send you a message with incentives after you abandon your online shopping cart.

As technology becomes more affordable, we will see opportunities to collect business intelligence in unprecedented ways that help businesses make better decisions faster. For example, companies are increasingly embedding technology into objects (e.g. retail shelf, medication bottles).

These objects will then make data, such as the stock level at retail, available to management, thereby providing insights to facilitate process change, resource optimization, or different ways of communicating.