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How to succeed with your digital transformation strategy

16 October 2016 by National Bank
digital transformation strategies

SMEs would be well-advised to begin their digital transformation without delay. Pierre Tocci, a strategic advisor on IT transformation at NOVIPRO, shares several strategies for successfully making the shift.

1- Why do companies need to undertake a digital transformation?

Nowadays, a consumer’s first reflex is to consult the Internet. Therefore, a company’s brand identity has to be present – and above all easily accessible – at all times on the Web. That’s an absolute must. What’s more, new technologies offer several advantages. Without these, many organizations would struggle to survive in the current context. In Quebec, the shift is under way, but we can take it much farther…

2- Can digital transformation be applied to the in-store customer experience?

Absolutely. One of the many ways to do this is to tap into the potential of mobiles. The Bay compared purchases made by customers who had received product suggestions on their smartphones to those of customers who were helped by clerks in-store. The suggestions received by phone generated more sales.

Another example is the use of geolocation tags, or “beacons.” They can analyze a customer’s movement through the store, for instance whether he or she starts with aisle A or aisle B. This allows a company to better organize its products, deploy its personnel in the right places, pinpoint the areas that have the most customer traffic, etc. Beacons also allow you to analyze customer behaviour: how much time they spend in the store, how they spend that time or why they leave quickly. A store wants to attract people, but also keep them. If a customer enters the store but then leaves after a few seconds, management should be looking at whether the initial welcome is effective or not. Digital allows that. It’s fairly simple, and it’s affordable too.

3- When we think “digital,” the first thing that comes to mind is the Internet. What role does the Web play in digital transformation?

For many companies, having an online store is essential. Some consumers prefer to buy online rather than in-store. Therefore, it’s important to improve the online customer experience and ensure fast delivery. The logistics must be extremely efficient, and this is another area where digital technology can lead to improvements. But even if they don’t have an online store, it’s important for every company to have a good Web interface, because customers often research products online before coming into the store.

4- Beyond the Web, should companies also be present on social media?

Yes, a company’s presence on these platforms is a great way to start a conversation with the consumer. The use of social media should help the customer gather information, obtain advice and identify with the brand. Essentially, a website is not relational enough – social media is far more powerful when it comes to building customer relationships. Of course, it all depends on the product and the target audience. That said, social media has to be done right, because if it’s not, it can also undermine a company, lead to complaints or even spread fake news. It’s a double-edged sword.

5- Can organizations use data to help plan their digital shift? Is the use of big data a viable path forward?

The concept of megadata (or so-called “big data”) encompasses all the data a company has access to. The easiest to analyze is transactional data: what type of customer is buying what product, when, and why. This type of data is widespread and easy to obtain. When planning a digital transformation, it can be very useful to analyze discussions on social media to help predict what consumers are going to want. Today, technology can allow you to consolidate various sources of information and combine them with geotagging data to help predict, with a fair degree of certainty, that next spring, people are going to want this colour or that model. It’s all about environmental data and human behaviour – you’re no longer talking about actual transactions, with a date and a quantity. This big data is available through Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, etc. These companies collect and sell that information. In the retail sector, you want to be able to tap into any and all data related to human behaviour.

But digital transformation isn’t only about the company’s relationship with its customers. It also involves internal processes and the supply chain. So you have to also analyze operational data – relating, for instance, to assembly lines – because this could improve how your company operates. And HR data, such as employee absenteeism rates or team performance measures, can also be very useful.

In Quebec, research on big data is fairly advanced, but its application at the company level is lagging behind. The market is just starting to open up, with agencies now specializing in processing this kind of data. There’s still a lot of room for innovation.

6- Speaking of human resources, doesn’t a company’s digital transformation also depend on its employees and on tools that can increase their connectivity?

That’s very true. It’s essential to support your personnel and give them the right tools. Various technologies can allow them to work together virtually. This isn’t just about being able to send messages to one another, but about actively exchanging and getting together in virtual meeting rooms. This not only makes their jobs easier, it also saves plenty of time. The technology is there – it’s simple to use, and it’s secure. People can work from home and interact with their colleagues as if they were at the office. And to further enhance connectivity, a company can transfer its IT systems to the cloud so that employees can work from anywhere with an Internet connection.

In-house social media is also interesting because it can bring employees closer together, especially if a lot of them are telecommuting. Facilitating collaboration is a critical driver of growth and success when it comes to digital transformation.

Digital transformation strategic advisor Pierre Tocci’s recommendations are food for thought for any entrepreneur concerned with the digital positioning of their organization. Website, social networks, data collection, connected teams… how can these elements help your company grow?

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