Articles about Digital Transformation
According to the Health IT security report1, the first half of 2023 had over 39 million patient records compromised. When placed in the wrong hands, sensitive information such as patient health records, SSNs, prescriptions, personally identifiable information (PII), addresses, and other confidential information can put the Healthcare provider and the patient at great risk. The breaches reported were hacking incidents by unauthorized users who gained access to Electronic Health Records (EHR) by breaking existing security protocols. Such security incidents brought to the fore the importance of adequate data security in the Healthcare sector, given its criticality and the sensitivity of the information it generates. If you own a Healthcare facility or a related industry, cybersecurity is what you need to enhance to avoid data breaches and consequent loss of your organization’s reputation and market value. The Healthcare sector is one of the most regulated sectors in the US, covering both information security and the entire lifecycle of operations, from procurement to distribution. HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) governs the storage and administration of EHRs and data, with the entire Healthcare industry operations subject to compliance with FDA regulations. The SAP S/4HANA landscape supports the healthcare sector in ensuring compliance and abiding by the rules and regulations set by regulatory bodies. Healthcare and HIPAA The HIPAA Security Rule is a specific part of HIPAA and provides the below regulations for securing electronically stored patient information. Ensure Data integrity, accessibility, and confidentiality of all electronic health records Identify and mitigate threats to the stored information Protect against unauthorized usage and disclosures Ensure complete compliance with security norms by the workforce Healthcare regulatory compliance is critical, as the stakes involved are high. Even a slight deviation can lead to fatal consequences, which is the reason for the focus on regulatory compliance. The major challenge you face is ensuring the security and confidentiality of data, whether stored on-premise or on the cloud. You also need a comprehensive ERP system that covers the entire gamut of operations, enabling optimized systems and workflows compliant with regulatory norms and leading to better productivity and profitability. The Role of Cloud-based Solutions in the Healthcare Sector The Healthcare sector has steadily adopted cloud-based storage and application environments as they seek greater digitization. The cloud model accords the opportunity to benefit from greater data security, as cloud solution providers offer a wide range of features to ensure data security and protection from unauthorized usage and malicious hacking attempts. Cloud-based solutions also provide remote access to data and applications, increasing productivity and connectivity. Security features offered by cloud-hosted solutions: Access restrictions Password management Firewalls Data encryption Virus protection Retention and destruction of data Faster incidence response and management Risk identification and mitigation SAP S/4HANA SAP S/4HANA is a widely used cloud-based ERP solution and offers a range of constituent applications that cover major business functions, along with extensible modules for specific needs of diverse business verticals. For the Healthcare sector, SAP offers products such as SAP Patient Management, Marketing Cloud, Qualtrics CE, Advanced Track and Trace for Pharmaceuticals, BO Enterprise, Analytics Cloud, and many more, giving end-to-end solutions for the complete needs of the Healthcare sector. The S/4HANA Cloud is the core of the entire SAP environment and stores the critical data for operational processes and analytics. It uses hyperscalar providers to offer a Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). Below are the major security aspects of S/4HANA Cloud and the distinct advantage they provide to the Healthcare sector to ensure HIPAA compliance. Data Security Data security is provided by customer data isolation with a virtual ABAP Server and database for each tenant. The “Security Group” provides application isolation, which allows communication between different application instances belonging to the same tenant. Cross-tenant communication is prevented at the network level, which mitigates the risk of unauthorized tenant data access. Data Encryption SAP S/4HANA Cloud provides encryption for both data-at-rest and in transit. Data-at-rest includes local and central file systems, backups, and databases, whereas data-at-transit consists of data movement between applications and has end-to-end encryption. The key management system (KMS) manages the cryptographic keys with a ‘segregation of duties’ guideline. It gives complete encryption of data-both at the storage level and while being shared and prevents encrypted data from unauthorized access. Application Security Applications developed on the SAP S/4HANA cloud follow the secure software development lifecycle (SDLC) with an extensive focus on data security, privacy, and protection. They undergo in-depth risk analysis, testing processes, and assessment of security controls to ensure complete safety. All traffic to the applications is accessed through HTTPS, providing the secure movement of data. Network Security Network security in SAP S/4HANA Cloud is enabled by dividing the network into zones and segments, with security controls for each zone. These controls work on the type of data and its interaction with a virtual backup cloud for data backups, administration, and internal systems. Operational Security The operational security team performs 24/7 monitoring of the database and infrastructure, securing administration access, taking backups, checking for vulnerabilities, simulating hackings, and mitigating risks. They also work on incident management and remediation, data breach notifications, and provide security patches and complete support to ensure the data is secure for business continuity. The above features of SAP S/4HANA Cloud make it a preferred choice for having a cloud-based ERP system for the Healthcare sector, as it ensures compliance with the regulatory requirements of HIPAA. Having HIPAA compliance ensures that your Healthcare business builds trust and value among your customers and gives you a competitive edge. If you want to enhance your security posture with SAP S/4HANA and ensure regulatory compliance, contact us, and our experts will be glad to help.
Data has always been integral to organizations. However, as customer expectations continue to evolve, data-driven insights have proven integral to optimizing customer relationships. This has resulted in data leaders not only being integral to transformation but often leading the transformation. From finding, acquiring, serving, and retaining customers to predicting and delivering those customer moments that matter, data and analytics have emerged as essential enterprise competencies. At this year’s MITCDOIQ Symposium, our Regional Vice President and Executive Data Leader Mark Johnson sat down with a panel of experts, including Todd James (Chief Data and Technology Officer at 84.51), Chris Tambos (VP of Data & Analytics at Fortune Brands Water Innovations), Eric Wiegand (Industry Expert), David Levine (VP of Solution Sales at Fusion Alliance), and Saj Patel (VP of Data Solutions at Fusion Alliance). Together, these industry leaders illuminate the outcomes and successes your business can see at the intersection of digital, data, and analytics and present emerging best practices that will ensure your success. As business models pivot to meet the ever-evolving needs of customers and organizations, these experts explain how their organizations answered some of their biggest challenges, including dealing with pandemic-related changes using data and analytics. This panel also covers how data fits into your bigger business strategy. Marketing has traditionally been the biggest consumer of customer data, but now we are seeing how important data is to all areas of the organization. With a wealth of knowledge between these great data minds, this panel provides information you won’t want to miss that can help you make the right choices and provide the ultimate customer experience.
Forge your strategy in Valyrian steel Brilliantly harnessing the news cycle, Gartner released its report on how to become a digital dragon just as HBO premiered its spinoff Game of Thrones series that details the risks and opportunities of becoming a dragon in the geopolitical sense. Not to spoil the plot of either narrative, but dragons (of the digital or CGI variety) are not simple to create, tame, or control. That’s where data comes in. In the developing digital ecosystem, a solid data strategy harnesses that dragon energy and keeps the organization ready to pivot at the right time. Here’s how Gartner’s three steps to digital dragon status play out for data: Increase risk appetite: To be adaptive, spot potential immediately, and act fast, you need to be able to trust your data. Inject cognitive diversity: To keep your diverse and flexible talent pool from getting trapped in information silos, you need to be able to deliver your data. Incubate digital dragons: To cultivate a curious, entrepreneurial culture in your organization, your executives and business units need to be able to leverage your data. No matter where your organization is on the path to becoming a digital dragon, data’s role is to drive better decisions, better customer experiences, and better access to information across the business. Data strategy is a key component to any successful digital transformation. Forge your data strategy with Valyrian steel (metaphorically speaking). Let’s talk about where you are on your journey, and how we can help you get there faster. Get Smart: If the summary article linked above left you wanting more, the (gated) Gartner report you’re looking for is: “The Armed and Potent Digital Leader: How to Become a Digital Dragon.” For those without the stomach for another foray into Westeros, but who still have a taste for dynastic feuding and magical flying (of a sort), you might check out Alex Bledsoe’s Appalachian fairy tale The Hum and the Shiver.
From online transactions to mobile payment apps like Venmo, today's consumers increasingly look for digital access to funds — and they expect a seamless experience. As customer expectations and the economy continue to evolve, digital transformation in finance and banking needs to keep pace. Banking culture hasn’t always kept up with what digital customers are actually looking for. The World Banking Report 2021 reported that, “Despite being vocal about improving the customer experience, the banking industry’s delivery of the key components of a strong customer experience, such as improving transparency and social responsibility, improving customer support, and reducing the cost of services, falls far short of customer expectations.” Three common barriers to digital transformation in banking There are several common challenges to digital transformation that keep banks from pivoting quickly to meet customer expectations. Roadblock #1: Technical debt As a highly regulated industry, traditional banking relies on complex and siloed legacy technologies that are often expensive to maintain. Over time, technical investments compound, making it increasingly difficult to find time or resources to shift to more modern or scalable platforms. When banks grow through mergers and acquisitions, attempting to integrate additional legacy systems adds to that technical debt. At the same time, banks face increasing competition from the fintech sector — online-first financial institutions that aren’t encumbered by aging platforms. Traditional banks saddled with technical debt may feel that they lack the time or resources to fully integrate, modernize, or replace their legacy technologies. But the longer this debt persists, the harder it is to compete with digital natives, leaving banks less agile in the marketplace. How platform modernization helped make an annuity organization more competitive >> Roadblock #2: Organization size Like many enterprise-level organizations, larger banks often create internal digital teams that combine business, IT, and marketing capabilities and develop expertise in their own technologies, systems, and processes. Faced with competing internal priorities and hampered by regulatory constraints, these internal teams may struggle to get alignment and prioritization for a banking digital transformation strategy and may lack the breadth of expertise necessary to implement a comprehensive modernization effort. Smaller banks, on the other hand, may be more nimble and successful at shifting internal priorities, but they may not have the resources to staff dedicated teams. While organization size is often called out as a hindrance to effective digital transformation in banking, the underlying problem may not actually be a headcount issue. Regardless of size or industry, most companies miss their digital transformation goals due to lack of clarity and strategy. “Digital transformation” in finance or any sector can be hard to define, implement, and measure. A more strategic approach starts with identifying concrete problems or issues, understanding customer needs, and developing solutions that bridge the gap with action steps that are clear, dynamic, and measurable. How technology strategy comes to life >> Roadblock #3: Relying on assumptions about customer needs and wants Understanding customers’ needs, pain points, and experiences can be difficult, and as users adapt to technology their preferences continue to change. This makes audience research even more critical when defining your bank’s digital transformation strategy. After a surge in remote work due to Covid, comfort levels with technology are at an all-time high. Research from McKinsey found that 75% of people using digital channels for the first time during the pandemic indicate that they will continue to use them when things return to “normal.” Not only are customers more comfortable with banking technology, but it has also become an important factor in choosing which bank to use. According to Mobiquity’s 2021 digital banking report, 40% of respondents agreed that they are likely to switch accounts to get better digital tools. Investing in both qualitative and quantitative data can dispel assumptions about your audience, while also revealing specific ways to improve the customer experience. As those opportunities are identified, banks can prioritize technology and services that will have the biggest impact. What goes into a successful customer experience strategy >> How to approach a digital transformation strategy in banking Given these challenges and the continuous evolution of customer expectations, several technologies offer significant potential gains and can help financial institutions stay competitive. Mobile app enhancements Mobile banking apps typically offer the ability to check balances, transfer funds, pay bills, and chat online with a bank representative. By building applications that go beyond these basic services, banks can increase their new customer base while improving customer retention and lifetime value. Leaders in the banking space now include peer-to-peer payments, lending inquiries, and chatbots as part of their applications. However, in addition to monitoring what competitors are doing, it’s important to implement a robust discovery process to see what the target audience wants from a banking app. This could include developing target personas and performing pain point analysis to find unique solutions and services that will better appeal to customers’ needs. From there, financial institutions are better poised to tackle the next layer of technology for the app space — personalization. Many banks are investing in personal financial management tools and customized product offerings in their apps, making banking more accessible and valuable than before. These user-friendly applications and their customization capabilities are an integral part of digital transformation in banking. Refine your mobile applications and provide a better customer experience >> Machine Learning Historically, machine learning engagements have required substantial data science and model training investments. But major ML platforms have evolved, lowering the barrier of entry for these projects. Now, midsize and even smaller banks can use machine learning models to better understand their customers and drive a more personalized experience. And machine learning isn’t just valuable for deepening current relationships; it can also help banks target and acquire new business by identifying trends and opportunities. This means higher quality leads, improved retention, and an increase in business with more potential for high lifetime value. [On-Demand] Reimagining customer insights, risks, & relationships through machine learning >> Data management strategy Traditional lending institutions underwrite loans by using a system of credit reporting. Banks that process loan applications evaluate the risk by looking at credit scores, homeownership status, and debt-to-income ratios. Today, three major credit bureaus provide this information. But these reports can sometimes contain erroneous information, and the information comes at a high cost since it can only be found in three places. And while banks often collect their own internal data, if that data is incomplete or disorganized it cannot offer useful insight. With structured data management strategies, financial institutions can mitigate losses by generating more data and using it to recognize trends and potential liabilities. See how one bank improved ROI by 1054% through strategic data management >> Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Some banking processes are still highly manual. Consider routine tasks like opening an account or reporting a stolen credit card — it takes time to get through the questions, and usually requires a phone call from the customer. With robotic process automation (RPA), in the case of a stolen credit card, the workflow process can automatically cancel the old card, issue a new card, and confirm the mailing address of the new card. RPA can also identify bots or theft with greater accuracy than a human analyst. RPA even has the potential to assist with workload transformation. In addition to streamlining and automating internal processes, RPA can be used to manage the cloud technologies that institutions rely on for their everyday tasks. This leads to more refined workload placement — and therefore a more productive workforce. The bottom line on digital transformation in banking From highly-personalized service offerings to easy-to-use applications, consumer expectations are high in the banking sphere. To keep up with these expectations, banks must position themselves to adapt quickly. Traditional banks are often at a disadvantage to digital-only competitors. Newcomers operate without the burden of legacy systems and outdated business models. But a digital-first attitude can help financial companies effectively implement technologies that enable digital transformation in banking. Find out how one financial services firm successfully handled digital transformation >> Ready to boost your productivity and customer engagement? Let us know your questions and find out how a strategic approach to digital transformation can help your bank thrive in a digital-first world.
When the idea has legs, but you don't know how to use them In the early 1850s, the U.S. government was looking for ways to move troops and supplies through the American Southwest. Their trusty pack mules were no match for the arid conditions of west Texas, New Mexico, and beyond. Sound like a use case for camels? The government thought so. And when the Army initiated a proof of concept with a small herd of camels and a few camel drivers imported from the Ottoman Empire, the hypothesis proved out. Where mules died of thirst, camels kept moving. Where the U.S. wanted to blaze a trail, the camels not only demonstrated endurance, but also survived rattlesnake bites with no ill effects. The project was such a success that the Camel Corps commander asked Congress for an additional 1,000 camels. Instead, three years after the initial investment, the costly program disbanded, and the camels were auctioned off. Why did the Army take a loss on such a seemingly successful project? The answer seems simple in hindsight: very few American soldiers knew how to lead camel trains. Compelling use case. Promising POC. Project ultimately fails due to unforeseen upskilling and scalability challenges. Sound familiar? To escape that script, successful companies take a strategic approach, including change management, cross-training, and outsourcing in plans for any new technology tool or platform. After all, even the most exotic solutions are only as good as your ability to integrate, scale, and manage them for ongoing success. If you’ve tossed some camels on your digital transformation roadmap, it might be a good idea to stress test your strategy before you bet the ranch. Whether you need to ask a quick question, talk through a specific roadblock, or get a major endeavor unstuck, we can help. Our team of digital, data, and technology experts can, metaphorically at least, help you lasso those camels (watch out, they spit) and deliver transformative results. Get smart: You can read a fictionalized version of the true story of the Camel Corps in Teá Obreht’s novel Inland, which takes on cowboy legends from an unexpected point of view.
As the pace of technological change continues to increase, digital transformation in healthcare often struggles to keep up. Challenges like integrating aging legacy systems, maintaining patient privacy, and leveraging disparate data sources into actionable insights loom large in healthcare, where time and resources are often at a premium. But the same circumstances that make digital transformation in healthcare more difficult are the very things that underline its importance. When patient lives are on the line, digital transformation isn’t just a “nice to have.” Healthcare systems that achieve their digital transformation goals see immediate improvements in patient experience, quality of care, and patient outcomes. From that standpoint, digital transformation in healthcare isn’t just about adding technology, it’s about revolutionizing the processes and systems that drive the health and well-being of the population as a whole. Case study: Life-saving technology in diabetes long-term care >> Putting patients first While individual healthcare providers commonly put their patients’ needs front and center, the system as a whole did not evolve with that mentality. Due to a variety of factors, including payer systems, consolidation, and the regulatory environment, healthcare systems got a reputation for siloed information, duplicate workflows, lack of clarity, and confusion. As healthcare organizations seek to modernize, smart health systems are taking a consumer-centric approach — redesigning patient experiences and pathways while improving care delivery and outcomes using digital technology. Article: Transforming customer engagement in the digital age >> Planning the future of digital transformation in healthcare During the pandemic, industries accelerated digital transformation efforts across the board, and healthcare was no exception. Out of necessity, more medical touchpoints and interactions moved online, from virtual office visits to automated triage to digital paperwork. Now, two years into the new normal, healthcare organizations are taking stock of their progress, appreciating the speed and scale of their efforts, and mapping opportunities for the future. A recent Deloitte study found that 60% of health systems say they are about halfway through their digital transformation journey. In our experience, working with technology innovators and leaders across industries is where things can get messy. Digital transformation is a long game, and organizations often get bogged down at the halfway mark. To keep moving forward and avoid costly wrong turns, healthcare leaders need a fresh vision and renewed roadmap. Evolving digital transformation in healthcare to meet the changing expectations of patients and providers requires a commitment to a digital-first, people-centric approach, but offers great opportunities for continued growth in connection, innovation, and successful outcomes. Based on our experience, we see five key areas where focused efforts can deliver outsized returns for healthcare systems that are mid-way through their digital transformations: 1. Modernize legacy systems to give providers and patients more options While the vast majority of individual healthcare providers and healthcare organizations use an electronic health records (EHR) system, relatively few seamlessly integrate with patient portals. A recent PEW Health Information Technology (HIT) survey found that almost 80% of respondents wanted to access and view their electronic health records through a website, an online portal, a mobile app, or electronically in some other way. Moreover, the same survey highlights a strong desire for their doctors to share information about the patient’s health status. For most healthcare organizations, integrating patient records across practices and within portals is a headache at best. Adding in the other digital interactions that today’s consumers expect — such as automated appointment and prescription workflows, chatbots, pre-filled forms, and instant answers — might seem impossible. Delivering a better patient experience and giving providers greater flexibility with their tools often takes a more strategic view. Rather than layering in more and more technology solutions, smart healthcare organizations take a holistic approach to modernization, creating flexible, modular solutions that give patients and providers more options in the near term while also making future enhancements easier. Case Study: How an AI healthcare company optimized its digital experience >> Article: Modernization challenges and the path forward >> 2. Mitigate risk to build patient trust In addition to technology lag, healthcare systems also struggle to connect patient health information due to regulatory constraints. To maintain HIPAA compliance in the US and GDPR compliance for EU patients, healthcare organizations sometimes limit the very information sharing that would result in higher quality care. To meet patient expectations of data privacy and personal health data security while also delivering on modern expectations for functionality and connectivity, health organizations need to build in best practices for security and governance throughout their technology architecture. While there are myriad ways to approach this issue, a couple of key options deserve consideration: BYOD Policies A 2019 study found that 63% of healthcare organizations sustained a security incident related to unmanaged and IoT devices. Given the rapid acceleration of digital transformation in healthcare since 2020, we suspect that number is much higher today. As healthcare organizations modernize systems and integrate more virtual and IoT solutions into their technology spaces, having a robust and updated BYOD policy becomes more important. Developing a compliant, enforceable strategy is a critical step in your modernization efforts. Case study: Navigating BYOD in a highly regulated industry >> Containerization One way to mitigate risk is to containerize data, workflows, and applications in the cloud. Although the cloud can sometimes get a bad rap for security, a carefully designed strategy puts security first and can prevent any breach from spilling over too far into other parts of your architecture. Article: Maintaining a composable enterprise >> Blockchain Best known in the context of cryptocurrency, blockchain uses a computerized database of transactions to allow secure information exchange without the need of a third party. Applying blockchain technology to the healthcare industry could improve information security management; healthcare data can be communicated and analyzed while preserving privacy and security. Countries like Australia and the UK have started experimenting with blockchain technology to manage medical records and transactions among patients, healthcare providers, and insurance companies. In both examples, decentralized networks of computers handle the blockchain and simultaneously register every transaction to detect conflicting information, keeping records accurate and making them more difficult to hack. Article: Building trust in your data privacy compliance >> 3. Use voice and wearables to enhance patient experience and outcomes Wearable devices and IoT-based health sensors can track a patient’s conditions and activities remotely, from their vital signs and hydration to the onset of a medical crisis event. The data collected can be helpful to healthcare providers and enable them to better guide patient care. Healthcare providers use IoT and wearable data for remote monitoring and preventative care, providing more specific, personalized connections even with lower staff coverage. Machine learning also drives AI-based natural language processing technology in the healthcare space. As more patients become familiar with voice models like Alexa, Siri, and Google Home, healthcare organizations see potential to deploy the technology for tasks like triage and treatment reminders. For example, the UK’s NHS uses voice technology to field common questions, deliver health information, and remind patients to take medication. Case study: Using wearables to improve patient care >> 4. Put data to work for predictive and preventative care Healthcare organizations collect volumes of data but traditionally haven’t used advanced analytics to translate the information into actionable insights. Today’s leading provider systems are exploring how real-time business analytics, predictive analytics, and AI can transform patient experience and how care is delivered. In much the same way that businesses use data analysis to spot trends, forecast consumer behavior, and drive purchasing decisions, healthcare organizations can use the information they collect to understand patient expectations, discover areas of dissatisfaction or waste, and identify opportunities to enhance the overall experience of patients with their facilities. Likewise, providers can use patient data to understand how a unique individual responds to treatment, spot key diagnostic markers, and even predict potential outcomes so that doctors and patients can work together to minimize risk. Article: Data analytics in healthcare settings >> 5. Automate administrative tasks to focus on patient care The growing number of administrative tasks imposed on physicians, their practices, and, by extension, their patients adds unnecessary costs to the health care system. Excessive administrative tasks also divert time and focus away from providing actual care to patients. Tools like Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can help healthcare systems save time and resources in areas such as administration, billing, and human resources — freeing up more time for face-to-face interaction with patients. When it comes to finding the right applications for automation in healthcare, it’s important to keep patient experience at the center of your strategy. Developing a customer-first automation strategy can help create the perfect blend of automated interactions and human interactions that will meet today’s expectations and delight patients rather than frustrate them. Article: Finding the right use cases for automation >> Evolving patient care through digital transformation in healthcare As the digital tools, apps, and resources pioneered during the pandemic continue to evolve, healthcare leaders must continue to push ahead with digital-first, patient-centric investments in technology, integrations, and solutions. Finding the right balance between patient and provider expectations, maintaining compliance, and enhancing patient care requires a mindset that values the patient’s perspective. Ready to take the next step? Get a machine learning jumpstart >> Get a better view of your data analytics maturity >> Refresh your digital transformation roadmap >> Wherever you are on your digital transformation journey, our team of digital, data, and technology experts can help. Ask us your questions about digital transformation in healthcare >>
The pace of change and unpredictable circumstances of the past couple of years have led many companies to rethink their just-in-time approaches to resourcing tangible goods and materials. But why stop there? To scale and adapt fast, companies also need a new approach to how they resource skillsets. One of our clients, PRECISIONxtract, did just that. By taking a just-in-time approach to their shifting skillset needs, the company was able to scale up fast — and minimize risk — in a changing business environment. A right-fit-first approach PRECISIONxtract’s transformative healthcare market access solutions offer patients and providers unprecedented connection to the right medication and resources in clinical settings. To bring that vision to life, PRECISION could have found a series of single-skill vendors or taken the time to recruit and onboard new employees. Instead, they looked for a cross-functional partner that would be a seamless fit with their company culture and that had the right mix of scalable skills. They found that fit with Fusion Alliance. Fusion quickly became an integral part of PRECISION’s team, assembling a group of more than 20 strategy, data, and technology experts to deliver responsive support for a growing set of initiatives. Boosting surge capacity across disciplines Knowing that their flagship product, Access Genius, needed design and functionality upgrades, PRECISION called on Fusion to assess and modernize the application without disrupting the existing business. To avoid downtime and increase speed to market, our team used an Agile process and a model-driven design, in which models from the source code informed modernization efforts. Streamlining the overall architecture not only saved development time, but also made Access Genius easier to deploy to PRECISION’s clients. And, to make the product easier to maintain and cheaper to run, we applied containerization through a microservices model and moved Access Genius to a distributed cloud hosting framework. Our solution provided real-time customer insights that were delivered across a variety of digital channels, in lieu of a people-driven process. This helped take Access Genius: From a complex, cumbersome, legacy monolith into a lightning-fast, distributed, cost-effective, cloud-native solution From a user-driven, database-centric format to a distributed API-based framework, enabling immediate data updates for important cost and coverage changes From a time-intensive customer engagement portal to an intuitive, streamlined, automated process Equipped with a modern, stable, extensible platform, PRECISION was free to explore opportunities for more radical innovation. Disrupting the market with frictionless access to timely data Although Access Genius successfully broke down barriers with data, the solution’s interface required users to navigate a complex dashboard with manual clicks and drop-downs. For pharma teams with limited time to connect doctors to information, seconds count. Working with PRECISION’s product team, Fusion technology experts analyzed the friction point of manual navigation and explored ways to make Access Genius more seamless for the user. Drawing on deep expertise deploying cutting-edge technologies into highly regulated spaces, Fusion suggested exploring a shift away from a traditional web-based interface to an AI-enabled voice functionality that would connect users to the most relevant data and messaging right in the flow of conversation. Changing the way pharma enablement tools go to market At the same time, other Fusion consultants were hard at work rethinking the way PRECISION’s products reached, empowered, and retained customers. We brought in a range of specialists to bring new strategies to life, including: Instructional designers and training developers created an interactive training platform to equip pharma sales reps with greater confidence in provider interactions by deepening their understanding of the Access Genius tool. RESULT: Access Genius IQ, a new training tool that helps PRECISION customers see faster ROI for their Access Genius investment Brand experts, visual designers, content strategists, and web developers elevated visual brand elements and created websites, editorial content, and outreach campaigns. RESULT: New website architecture, design, and content; long-form lead generation content; prospect cultivation email marketing Digital marketing strategists, creative designers, and ad teams implemented innovative ad campaigns in rapid succession as PRECISION had more time to develop and roll out new products. RESULT: LinkedIn ad campaigns generating 3X leads, including 100 qualified leads in the first 90 days Read more about the success of Fusion’s marketing partnership with PRECISION >> Reimagining the skillset supply chain Partnering with Fusion gives PRECISION access to a huge team of experienced consultants with a wide range of skillsets — allowing the company to surge and scale as their business needs and market realities shift. With Fusion bringing in the right people at just the right time, PRECISION saves valuable time and resources, enabling them to be more innovative, more agile, and more impactful for their customers, healthcare providers, and patients. Ready to explore how Fusion skillsets can help your team succeed? Our ongoing work with PRECISIONxtract is just one example of how we help companies build momentum for a digital-first world. We bring big-picture thinkers, technology-minded creatives, data scientists, and technical experts to work alongside our clients, providing a force-multiplying effect that leads to scalable, future-focused solutions for the most complex challenges. Ready to get started? Let’s talk.
Every few weeks, we share insights with our Fuse subscribers along with news and trends we’re following across the web, including book recommendations. Here’s a compilation of some of our key insights from last six weeks. If you want content like this delivered directly to your inbox, we’ve got you covered. Subscribe to the Fuse here. Data is the Holy Grail In the classic film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, viewers hear King Arthur and his trusty servant Patsy approaching with a trademark “clip-clop, clip-clop” sound. When the duo emerges from the primordial mist, you see (spoiler alert) that the source of all this noise is not, as might be supposed, a horse. Rather, Patsy is banging two coconut shells together as the king trots about on his own two legs. The duo is getting from point A to point B in their quest, but not in the most efficient or effective way possible. Many companies follow that script. Equipped with buzzword mandates like process optimization and data-driven decision making, it’s all too easy to make small adjustments that sound like you’re headed in the right direction but aren’t necessarily getting you there any faster. How do you drop the coconuts and get on the horse (metaphorically speaking)? What does it look like to use data to drive optimization in real terms? We’ve got our eye on digital twins. Before you run away (how’s that for a deep cut Monty Python reference?) from yet another data buzzword, it’s worth another look at this practical application of machine learning and data analytics. Digital twins are most often used to optimize physical assets and processes like manufacturing, warehousing, and logistics. Using sensors to collect data on a product, machine, or physical process, the digital twin feeds real-time data to a machine learning algorithm to test variables and scenarios faster — ultimately leading to actionable process improvement insights. These days, we’re starting to see more businesses use digital twin frameworks to optimize and innovate non-physical business processes like accounting, HR, and marketing as well. A digital twin simulation can help you surface interdependencies and inefficiencies that might otherwise be blind spots, especially if they’re baked into your business culture as “the way we’ve always done it.” In the quest for digital transformation, don’t settle for coconuts. Instead, let’s talk about the ways your data can carry more of the weight for you. Get smart: If all this talk of Monty Python and the Holy Grail puts you in the mood for an old-school movie night, good news: it’s available on Netflix. And if you’re looking for a more literary scratch for your Middle Ages (ish) itch, we’re reading Cathedral by Ben Hopkins. It’s a fascinating look at the complex processes involved in constructing architectural marvels in the days before edge computing. We may handle optimization differently now, but human nature stays the same. Read the full Fuse: Data for April here. A horse is a horse, and other martech myths Martech is a crowded field, and a lot of the voices weighing in on your options have a horse in the race.* No one is out to skew the odds on purpose, but your organization is unique. Just because one solution is a front-runner doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a great fit for your business. So how do you sort the facts from the hype and decide where to place your bets? We rounded up a few martech myths as a starting point. Myth: One CDP is as good as another. Fact Check: Finding the right CDP (or CRM, or DMP, or any other solution you can think of) isn’t a simple box to check. And, once you make your decision, integrating and customizing your platform will also take time and attention. Myth: Everyone needs a CDP. Fact Check: Depending on your use cases, you might be able to do everything you need to do within your current tech stack. Myth: You should pick a platform and go all in. Fact Check: It probably goes without saying, but when it comes to technology there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. One product might be a great fit for your needs, but that doesn’t mean that vendor should supply your entire tech stack. Myth: Data and tech silos are just the way business works. Fact Check: Regardless of size, scope, or industry, today’s businesses can’t afford to be siloed. When you’re evaluating a tech solution or rethinking your entire customer data strategy, prioritizing integration is always a safe bet. On your mark. Ready to put your martech through the paces? Read on to find resources to help you optimize your stack and get your customer data strategy across the finish line. *Full disclosure: one of our team members won $100 when Rich Strike won the Kentucky Derby, but for the most part we are platform- and livestock-agnostic. Get Smart: We try not to be too on the nose with our book recommendations but couldn’t help ourselves this time. In Data Strategy, Bernard Marr collects a solid primer on the data landscape and how your organization can use it (legally and ethically) to advance your goals. Spoiler alert, though probably not surprising given the title, strategy turns out to be the foundational driver for effective data use. Whether you read the book, our Ultimate Guide to Customer Data Strategy, or just want to get a sense of potential next steps, we’d love to chat about customer data. Grab a time that works for you. Read the full Fuse: Marketing for May here. Three technology strategies walk into a bar If you’ve got a monolithic legacy system on your hands, sticking with the status quo isn’t a fun choice. But going nuclear and building back from scratch probably isn’t realistic. Wouldn’t it be great to find a middle ground? Meet the composable enterprise. It’s an iterative path toward digital transformation, with applications repackaged into components that can be used to build new solutions across the business. Piece by modular piece, you rebuild your technology ecosystem — becoming more efficient, effective, and scalable as you go. As the glue that holds those components together, APIs are key to building a composable business. And developing secure API solutions that accommodate shifting capacity demands and amplify your technology takes a hefty dose of strategy and expertise. That’s what we love about it! If APIs are your jam, too, or if you’re wondering if a composable system makes sense for your business, let’s talk. We’re talking APIs over IPAs in Cincinnati on June 16 and you’re invited. It’ll be fun! Get smart: You’ve probably spent the day wondering how speculative/sci-fi/literary fiction relates to API strategy and microservices (or maybe that’s just us). But, we’d guess, the same type of mind that enjoys transforming legacy monoliths into composable enterprises would also really track with a book like How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu. Modular pieces linked together by strong bonds leading to an intricate and ever-expanding whole? We’re here for it (the book and the technology strategy). Read the full Fuse: Technology for May here.
In today’s rapidly evolving markets, with technologies and customer expectations changing more and more rapidly, companies recognize the need for digital transformation. And yet, studies show that 70% of digital transformations fail. Despite their best intentions, many organizations get caught up in long-term digital transformation plans that don’t deliver value for months or even years. It’s no wonder that the results are mixed at best. Whether you’re just getting started or facing yet another costly, time-consuming roadblock on your digital transformation journey, we recommend taking an entirely different approach: committing to an Agile digital transformation. Defining an Agile approach to digital transformation Although it’s most often used as a framework for software development, the principles of Agile methodology are exceptionally well-suited for complex projects of any kind, including the wholesale change required for a successful digital transformation. The key benefits of an Agile approach include: A customer-centric mindset Speed of change with a focus on delivering value right away Flexibility and rapid response to changing circumstances A holistic view of the solution For companies that need to keep pace with changing circumstances and shifting customer expectations, it’s easy to see why an Agile approach to digital transformation makes sense. Implementing an Agile digital transformation To pivot from a long-range digital transformation effort to a more Agile approach, apply the key benefits listed above to the digital transformation context. Agile digital transformation starts with a customer-centric mindset Successfully responding to customer expectations may require a significant shift in your business culture. An Agile digital transformation begins with building this new mindset from day one. The Agile methodology frames every task in light of how it impacts the end-user. In the digital transformation context, this translates to viewing work through the lens of customer experience. To that end, an Agile digital transformation begins with defining customer personas. In other words, we discover who the customers are and what they want. From that starting point, we evaluate every potential phase or step we might take in terms of the value it would deliver for the customer and the acceptance criteria that would define success. This makes it easy to prioritize work and build a path forward, and it reinforces a business culture that puts people first and solves real problems for real customers. Agile digital transformation focuses on delivering value right away Agile methodology breaks work into short sprints, with each sprint focused on delivering value within a few weeks. While the speed to results quickly builds equity with customers and stakeholders, the true value of this approach is the ability to test assumptions and manage risk as you go. By managing change in small increments, any mistake or failure can be mitigated quickly — reducing the organization’s exposure to risk and minimizing costly wrong turns — and your digital transformation can get back on track fast. Most companies find an Agile approach to digital transformation also helps to refine customer models, especially as expectations change. Instead of assuming you know what your customers want, you can test and refine products, processes, and solutions in real time, with real people. Agile digital transformation increases flexibility and enables iterative innovation As you collect feedback from incremental rollouts and real-world testing, Agile methodology enables your organization to grow in flexibility. At the end of each sprint, your team will conduct a Sprint Review & Retrospective, looking at data and outcomes to decide whether or not to continue, pivot, or change your approach. Organizations that report successful digital transformations adopt a permanent posture of growth. In this mindset, there is no “one and done.” There is always room for improvement, for increasing effectiveness, and for building efficiency. This method also reduces the tension of staring down a large and complex problem. All tasks not associated with the sprint at hand are placed in a backlog, and that list is re-prioritized at the beginning of each new sprint. Companies that take an Agile approach to digital transformation find that the ability to reorder the backlog as learning occurs leads to better results and more lasting change. Thanks to Agile project management, your teams are always working on the most valuable tasks at any given time, constantly delivering results and helping to shape a new company culture. Agile digital transformation takes a holistic view Unlike drawn-out projects that can easily become siloed from the day-to-day work of an organization, an Agile approach gives your company a holistic view, seeing how digital transformation impacts every process and business area. The drive to continually improve shifts the entire organization, and as your team gains experience and produces results with each sprint, other departments will flex to match. For example, your team may be improving the user interface (UI) of a product, adding features with each sprint to better guide customers through the purchasing journey. Although the product team may primarily be involved, other business units might respond by: Retraining customer support to respond to new customer questions about the changes Rewriting core marketing messages to match the new customer journey Developing new sales collateral to emphasize the improved UI Recalibrating data collection and analytics to add new data events and key performance indicators to measure the effectiveness of the changes Keeping everyone in sync will make your company’s internal communications and leadership collaboration more efficient and effective as well. With regular practice, your organization will be ideally positioned to roll future changes out smoothly. Starting down the path to Agile digital transformation If you’re new to Agile methodology, or if you’ve reserved the idea for IT, implementing it more broadly for your digital transformation can be daunting. An experienced partner can help. Our team implements Agile structures across organizations, helping companies transform the way they do business and connect with their customers. We can help you get started, get unstuck, and get on track for an Agile digital transformation. Let us know how we can help. Learn more about our approach to innovation >>
Every few weeks, we share insights with our Fuse subscribers along with news and trends we’re following across the web. Here’s a compilation of some of our key insights from last quarter. If you want content like this delivered directly to your inbox, we’ve got you covered. Subscribe to the Fuse here. Data literacy: Food for thought How do you get from buzzwords like “data literacy” and “data culture” to confidence that data is driving better decisions across the business? If Peter Drucker was right — and he’s Peter Drucker, so he probably was — culture eats strategy for breakfast. It’s not enough to build a business case for data. You need a business culture to support it. In our experience, success starts with aligning people, processes, and business goals with purpose-built data and technology solutions. When people understand what data makes possible and how it impacts their job — where to find it, and how to read and interpret the data they need — convincing them to use it to drive better decision making is a much easier lift. Easier said than done? You bet. We love a complicated algorithm or elegant data architecture, and we’re basically ninjas at selling business cases (if we do say so ourselves). But there’s a reason Fusion stakes a claim on being people-focused. Because we don’t just love data. We love when it works. Get smart: If you’re looking for an overview of data culture and a baseline for building data literacy across your organization, we recommend Be Data Literate by Jordan Morrow. Although written as a primer for individuals, the book’s framework could easily be used as a springboard for helping your whole company level up its data acumen. Read the full Fuse: Data for March. A one-brain approach to B2B marketing In AppleTV+’s bizarrely compelling drama Severance, employees’ brains are modified to separate their work memories from their off-work thoughts. Of course, what makes the show sci-fi is the fact that no one really has a “work self” and a “life self.” So, why does B2B marketing often seem to assume that consumers and business purchasers are different people? Compare your IG feed to the LinkedIn ads you’re served. One platform shows you talking Australian lizards. The other shows you text about processing speeds. When you need insurance, you remember where to go. When it’s time to make a CMS platform decision you…probably should have made a note. We want to believe that our B2B customers make purely rational decisions, but experience and data suggest otherwise. Whether it’s B2C or B2B, people predominantly buy from emotion, not stats and features. Creative marketers who are willing to push the envelope can capitalize on this idea to stand out in the sleepy B2B marketing landscape. It’s hard to argue with results. One of our clients, a pharma sales enablement company, saw 3x lead growth when they pivoted from standard B2B ads to a brighter, more engaging campaign direction. Your B2B targets don’t come to work as a separate persona. Creative marketing captures attention with a whole-brain approach. Ready to ditch the sinister work-life lobotomy assumptions? We’re always ready to talk about how to set your brand apart, whether it’s new creative or a streamlined martech stack. Let us know how we can help. Get smart: Wondering how to sell creative marketing internally? We’ve been reading The Human Element: Overcoming the Resistance that Awaits New Ideas and thinking through the authors’ framework for overcoming our natural resistance to change — especially as it applies to organizations. If you’re struggling through a shift, this book could be worth your time. Read the full Fuse: Marketing for March. Put your technology on a balanced diet Tech creep is kind of like strolling the cereal aisle with a four-year-old (or a 34-year-old, no judgment) who begs for the choco-sugar-neon-behavior-bombs instead of the sensible-fiber-nut-loops you had planned. When it comes to building your tech stack or stocking your pantry, “it looked cool” isn’t really a strategy. And yet, for many companies, an enterprise architecture hodge-podged out of whatever looked good at the time often gets the job done. Until it doesn’t. A move to the cloud, a new data privacy mandate, or even the increasing demand for speed and agility to stay competitive might expose the imbalance in your tech stack. How do you get back to a more wholesome view? Realigning your solutions with your organizational goals and objectives is a great start. Regardless of how long you’ve been using it, does every piece of your technology still fit your plan? You might need to let go of sunk costs and admit that a tool has gotten a little soggy for your current needs. You might need to put your appetite for shiny new solutions on a diet. At the risk of straining our balanced breakfast metaphor past the breaking point (too late?), we recommend putting a healthy strategy on the menu. As guidelines change and organizations shift to keep up, this is a great time to reassess your tools and processes. In its simplest form, a refreshed technology strategy includes a current state audit, an ideal state articulation, and a plan to bridge the gap. Whether your internal culture skews Team Sugar-Bombs or Team Fiber-Loops, we can help you take a strategic view and bring your technology stack back into balance. Get smart: We get that it’s a little bit ironic for a bunch of tech consultants to recommend a book like Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism. But hear us out. Newport’s approach to consumer technology – that tech and platforms should have to earn their place in your life by proving that they help you meet your goals and values – has some merit for the business world as well. We’ve all seen what Newport terms “maximalism” at play in sprawling, bolted together legacy architectures. Maybe the time has come for a more minimalist, goal-driven tech stack. Whether you’re ready to start over or looking for ways to modernize what you have, we’re always happy to talk technology strategy. Read the full Fuse: Technology for April.
Navigating the new data landscape Today’s consumers expect increasingly personalized experiences. To deliver that customized experience and increase market share, business leaders rely on personalization. Ever wondered how ads seem to follow you around the internet? That’s personalization at work. And the engine that drives it is data. The changing data landscape makes it essential for companies to re-evaluate their customer data strategies — and fast. Let’s get started. Where we are now As part of building a direct relationship with your customers, you probably collect some form of data with their consent. This information, known as first-party data, can include purchase history, application and website interactions, opt-ins and subscriptions, and the like. A customer provides a business with first-party data with the understanding that the business —and only that business — will use that data to better serve them. But not all data is collected through active consent. All your customer’s online activity and search history is currently tracked by cookies. That information, known as third-party data, can be sold from one business to another, without the customer’s knowledge, with the goal of getting more information about aggregated pools of consumers with similar behaviors. Think about the last time you shopped for a new car. You probably looked up options online or Googled dealerships nearby. Then, BAM! Suddenly all the ads you saw on Facebook, YouTube, and other websites were from car dealerships, with information targeted to the very model you were thinking about. That’s third-party cookies at work! Using third-party cookies, advertisers pay to get one step closer to consumers’ brains, gaining access to the professional status, consumer preferences, and personal interests that are otherwise outside of their first-party scope. Data in real-life While most organizations collect first-party data from their customers, many still rely heavily on third-party data and use a combination of the two to build their personalized customer experience. For example, using in-store Wi-Fi, Walmart collects a combination of first- and third-party data on close to 145 million Americans. Individual profiles include what customers buy, which stores they visit, and where they linger while they shop. Analyzing every clickable action the customer takes on Walmart.com, social media activity, and even weather data completes a full customer profile. By aggregating and analyzing all this data, Walmart makes inferences about highly personal circumstances, knowing that if you’re buying newborn diapers today, they should start hitting you with advertising for toddler sizes in two years. Even without a loyalty program, Walmart’s data and analytics ensure they know their customers and they have what they need to create a personalized shopping experience. Why these trends matter While customers may enjoy the customization of their experience, they don’t necessarily appreciate the creepiness factor of how often their privacy is invaded. The amount of information that consumers provide — knowingly or unknowingly — on a regular basis, which is then sold to other companies, creates a huge risk of data breaches and identity theft. Many organizations and advertisers see the coming deprecation of third-party cookies as a win for privacy, but a loss for businesses. But it doesn’t have to be a one-sided victory. Smart companies are figuring out how to use first-party data to achieve a personalized customer experience, turning the challenge into a win-win opportunity. Leveraging your first-party data To make up for the loss of third-party data, you need your customers to feel comfortable sharing their data with you. First-party data requires customers to be actively involved. Many customers are willing to give their information if they know it is being used responsibly by the business and that they will receive a better customer experience because of it. Your goal is to communicate how the information customers provide your company enables you to deliver a valuable, relevant experience that fits their needs and leaves them in control of their data. Focus on customer retention over acquisition When you deliver a relevant experience to your customers, they’re more likely to stay customers. First-party data allows you to deliver a more customized experience by gaining an understanding of each customer’s preferences for your products and services. You’re then able to re-engage through your owned channels and increase the lifespan of the customer relationship. And it doesn’t mean you have to leave acquisition behind. Just think … happy, loyal customers are likely to refer friends and family. Offer value in exchange for data Customer loyalty programs are an excellent example of successfully using first-party data, especially where there is a value-add such as accumulating points, getting a discount, early-bird notifications, and the like. In this case, customers are incentivized to provide their data and you can build a unique customer profile that will allow you to customize their interaction with your brand in the future. Create personalized content First-party data helps you discover who your customers are and find out about their habits and preferences directly from the source. Insights gained through first-party data analysis allow you to create different targets and strategies for delivering content personalized to your most loyal customers. It’s a trade-off The reality is, by increasing consumer privacy, businesses lose access to aggregated information and the ability to mass personalize and customers potentially lose the personalized experiences they’ve come to expect. The biggest question remains: can organizations fill the gap and start collecting and leveraging quality first-party data? The time is now Data and marketing teams must work together, and fast, to create first-party customer data strategies ahead of the cookie deprecation timeline. Building processes to collect quality data, keep it safe, analyze it correctly, and use it to create meaningful customer experiences won’t be easy, but laying that groundwork now can position your company for success in the new customer data landscape. This article was originally published on CDO Magazine.
We've got your Magic 4 Ball If there’s one thing the past two years have shown us, it’s that future-proofing your plans isn’t as easy as it looks. We live in a time of rapid change. And so do your customers. We can’t advise you about taking that cruise, who will win the Super Bowl, or what color to paint your office*. But, as 2022 takes the floor, we’re keeping an eye on the trends that are most likely to impact your digital transformation. Here’s what we’re looking out for: Technology: The trend toward industry-specific vertical clouds that deliver platforms and infrastructure as a service designed around regulatory and security requirements. Data: Comprehensive customer data strategies that take integrity, governance, infrastructure, BI, and analytics into account. Digital: More cross-functional ownership of digital transformations, and a resulting increase in solutions that integrate data, technology, and new ways of working. Marketing: The ripple effect from third-party cookie deprecation inspires exciting innovation in first-party-data-driven tactics, proving that privacy and impact aren’t mutually exclusive. We can’t predict the future, but we can stay ready for it. *Oh, and we vote “later,” “Bengals,” and “blue” for those first questions. Thank us later. Get smart: If you’re looking to deepen your understanding of data and its importance to your customers, your business, and your daily life, our technology practice recommends reading Making Numbers Count by Chip Heath. And any time you want to have a conversation about data impact, we’re up for it!
Almost 20 years ago, Capital One recognized the need for one person to oversee their data security, quality, and privacy, and the role of the Chief Data Officer was born. Now reports show that 68% of organizations have a CDO (Harvard Business Review, 2020). And while the role has become more common and has significantly evolved, many data executives are still struggling to get a seat at the table or bring data to the forefront of their organization. In fact, in a recent survey, only 28% of respondents agreed that the role was successful and established. Company leaders agree that there needs to be a single point of accountability to manage the various dimensions of data inside and outside of the enterprise, including the quality and availability of that data. But now we are at a crossroads — what is the best way to align the work that the CDO does with the strategy of the business as a whole? The reality is that CDOs often struggle to find the internal and external support and resources needed to educate others to align with the organization’s goals. Implementing enterprise data governance, data architecture, data asset development, data science, and advanced analytics capabilities — such as machine learning and video analytics — at scale, is not an easy task. To be successful, data executives need support, resources, and communities focused on the elevation of data. We are proud to continue to help these communities come to life for the benefit of our colleagues and clients, establishing local resources here in the Midwest with global scale, reach, and impact. Read on as Mark Johnson, our Executive Leader for Data Management and Analytics, provides insight on the current state of data and the CDO, and provides details on multiple opportunities for data leaders of different levels to get more involved in the data community. Q: How has the role of data changed/evolved for organizations? The reality is that information is everything. This global pandemic proved that to many organizations. For some, it showed that their digital network was ready, and they were aptly prepared to take on COVID. For others, it has forced them to recognize their own immaturity with data and analytics. On its own, managing data is not exciting — the information just sort of exists. To give data value, you have to put it to use. And so, I think we are going to see the Chief Data Officer and/or Chief Data Analytics Officer really find their own in the coming years. It’s time for their seat at the table. The C-suite is now asking questions that can only be answered with data, and now they truly understand both the value and consequences of the data game. Q: What do you think are the biggest challenges facing CDOs/data leaders today? I think that the biggest challenge for data executives today is the acquisition of talent that is seasoned and experienced where you need them to be for your organization. Higher education hasn’t necessarily kept up with the data world, and often times it takes additional training to reach the right levels. The reality is that right now the talent is manufactured in the real world. Data executives have to be connected and equipped to mentor, train, and keep the right people. Q: You’ve mentioned that data leaders need to connect with each other. What value can people expect from these data communities? I think there is tremendous value. As we are seeing the power of data evolve in organizations, and the role of data leaders evolve as well, I think coming together to collaborate and share elevates the leader, the organization, and the view of data as a whole. In these communities, it gives people a safe space to talk about how they are doing, what they are doing, what their biggest challenges are, and what solutions are working for them. These communities have truly become both a learning laboratory and an accelerator for data. Q: As a big proponent of connecting data leaders, you have been involved in creating different opportunities for people to get together. What groups/events would you recommend, and how can people get involved? I personally have been involved with the MIT Chief Data Officer and Information Quality Symposium (MIT CDOIQ), which is such a great opportunity to start with for connection. It has developed into additional opportunities for data leaders at all levels to get involved and create the kind of community we need to truly elevate the value of data. Organizations like the CDO Magazine, the creation of CDO roundtables across the nation, and the International Society of Chief Data Officers (isCDO) all evolved from connecting data leaders and identifying common challenges. MIT CDOIQ: The International MIT Chief Data Officer and Information Quality Symposium (MIT CDOIQ) is one of the key events for sharing and exchanging cutting-edge ideas and creating a space for discussion between data executives across industries. While resolving data issues at the Department of Defense, the symposium founder, Dr. Wang, recognized the need to bring data people together. Now in its 15th year, MIT CDOIQ is a premier event designed to advance knowledge, accelerate the adoption of the role of the Chief Data Officer, and change how data is leveraged in organizations across industries and geographies. Fusion has been a sponsor of this symposium for seven years now, and we are so excited to see how the event has grown. Designed for the CDO or top data executive in your organization, this is a space to really connect with other top industry leaders. CDO Roundtables Fusion has always been focused on building community and connecting people. And when one of our clients, a Fortune 500 retailer, mentioned wanting to talk with other data leaders from similar corporations, we realized that there was a big gap here — there was no space that existed where data leaders could informally come together, without sales pitches and vendor influence, and simply talk. That’s how the CDO roundtables were born — a place that allows data leaders to get to know each other, collaborate, accelerate knowledge growth, and problem solve. We just started two years ago in Cincinnati, but now, now we’ve expanded to multiple markets including Indianapolis, Columbus, Cleveland, Chicago, and Miami. These groups are designed for your CDO/CDAO and truly create an environment for unfiltered peer-to-peer discussion that helps solves data leadership challenges across industries. If you’re interested in joining one of these roundtables or starting one in your market, email me or message me on LinkedIn. I’m here and ready to get these roundtables started with executives in as many communities as I can. The more communities we have, the more data leaders and organizations we can serve. International Society of Chief Data Officers (isCDO) Launched out of the MIT CDOIQ symposium, the isCDO is a vendor-neutral organization designed to promote data leadership. I am excited to be a founding member of this organization, along with our Vice President of Strategy, David Levine. Our ultimate goal is to create a space that serves as a peer-advisory resource and enables enterprises to truly realize the value of data-driven decision making. With multiple membership options available, isCDO is the perfect opportunity for data leaders looking to connect with their peers and gain a competitive advantage by focusing on high-quality data and analytics. CDO Magazine I am really proud to be a founder of the CDO magazine, as it really is a resource for all business leaders, not just the CDO. We designed the magazine to be a resource for C-suite leaders — to educate and inform on the value proposition, strategies, and best practices that optimize long-term business value from investments in enterprise data management and analytics capabilities. Check out the publication here. And if you’re interested in contributing content or being interviewed, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Closing: The role of the CDO is integral to organizations, but it’s still evolving. Now more than ever, it is important that data leaders come together to collaborate and problem-solve. Fusion is excited to be a part of each of these initiatives, and we are committed to being an agent of change in the communities we serve and beyond. By connecting global thought leaders we believe that organizations will realize the value of data to power their digital transformation. If you’re interested in joining any of these data communities or just have questions, feel free to reach out to Mark via email or on LinkedIn.
While every organization’s journey to digital transformation looks different, one thing remains the same — the importance of data. Tackling your data systems and processes is vital to fully transform. However, the reality is that most organizations are overwhelmed with data about their customers. But these troves of information are completely useless unless companies know that the data they have is accurate and how to analyze it to make the right business decisions. In today’s world, organizations have been forced to pivot and have realized the value data can bring to drive insight and empower their decision-making. However, many organizations have also recognized their data immaturity. So how do you move forward? The role of data in digital transformation Data can be your organization’s biggest asset, but only if it is used correctly. And things have changed. A lot of organizations have completed the first steps in their digital transformation, but now they are stuck — they aren’t getting the results they expected. Why? They haven’t truly leveraged their data. According to Forrester, “Firms make fewer than 50% of their decisions on quantitative information as opposed to gut feelings, experiences, or opinions.” The same survey also showed that while 85% of those respondents wanted to improve their use of data insights, 91% found it challenging to do so. So, now that you’ve got the data, how can you make it more valuable? Data strategy is key to your digital transformation With so many systems and devices connected, the right information and reporting is critical. But first, you have to make sure you have the right technology in place. Utilizing big data Although you might feel inundated with the amount of data you have coming in, using big data analytics can bring significant value to your digital transformation. Through big data analytics, you can get to a granular level and create an unprecedented customer experience. With information about what customers buy, when they buy it, how often they buy it, etc., you can meet their future needs. It enables both digitization and automation to improve efficiency and business processes. Optimizing your legacy systems Legacy systems are critical to your everyday business, but can be slow to change. Why fix what’s not necessarily broken? But just because systems are functioning correctly doesn’t mean they’re functioning at the level you need them to — a level that is conducive to achieving your data and digital transformation goals. This doesn’t have to mean an entire overhaul. You’ve likely invested a lot into your legacy systems. One key to a good data strategy is understanding how to leverage your legacy systems to make them a part of (instead of a roadblock to) your digital transformation. With the enormous scale of data so closely tied to applications, coding and deployment can often make this stage of your digital transformation feel overwhelming. Sometimes DevOps tooling and processes are incompatible with these systems. Therefore, they are unable to benefit from Agile techniques, continuous integration, and delivery tooling. But it doesn’t have to feel impossible — you just need the right plan and the right technology. Focusing on your data quality Even with the right plan and technology, you have to have the right data. Bad data can have huge consequences for an organization and can lead to business decisions made on inaccurate analytics. Ultimately, good data needs to meet five criteria: accuracy, relevancy, completeness, timeliness, and consistency. With these criteria in place, you will be in the right position to use your data to achieve your digital transformation goals. Implementing a data strategy with digital transformation in mind So how do you implement your data strategy? You should start by tackling your data engineering and data analytics. The more you can trust your data, the more possibilities you have. By solving your data quality problem, you can achieve trust in your data analytics. And then, the more data you have on your customers, the more effective you can make your customer experience. But, this all requires a comprehensive data strategy that allows your quality data to be compiled and analyzed so you can use it to create actionable insights. The biggest tools to help here — AI and machine learning. The benefits of a data-driven digital transformation The benefits of investing in your data are clear, including increased speed to market, faster incremental returns, extended capabilities, and easier access and integration of data. Discover more about the different ways you can invest in your data and improve and accelerate ROI for your organization. Ultimately, your goal is to elevate how you deliver value to your customers. Digital transformation is the key to understanding your customers better and providing a personalized customer experience for them. Leveraging your data can make all the difference between you and your competitors. And we’re here to help. Learn more about how some of our clients have benefited from investing in their data and digital transformation.
Many organizations struggle to adopt Agile as part of their digital transformation. And one of the most common struggles in adopting Agile is how to move toward incremental and iterative refinement. Iterating on a goal allows more information to be gained quickly, but it also means timelines are likely to overlap. While stakeholders tend to focus on their piece of the puzzle or the next goal, product owners have to balance complex timelines and goals for multiple stakeholders. How does an Agile product owner prioritize all the overlapping timelines and goals within the wider context of their organization? There are no solid rules, and everyone has to adapt to their own organization, but many successful product owners factor in the following key principles to make their decisions and plan their sprints: Prioritize based on a mixture of urgency, importance, and size Use tactical stories to achieve strategic goals Find ways to regularly invest in maintenance These principles can increase product ownership success and even lead to greater agile adoption across your organization. As in most things, the trick is balance. Prioritize stories based on Urgency, Importance, and Size Urgency There is always pressure to prioritize urgency. You can’t turn back time, and if you miss an urgent issue then you are certain to hear about it. However, the biggest mistake product owners make is prioritizing urgency too high. There will always be urgent requests, and if urgency is your only factor, you will only end up fulfilling urgent requests. Importance Importance is not always reflected in urgency, but it must always be reflected in priority. Waiting for important work to also become urgent almost certainly spells disaster. The proactive stance of prioritizing important work against urgent work also tends to have political implications. We’ve all heard the adage “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” The best customers are typically the ones who complain the least, so don’t punish them for that. This also applies to stakeholders. The more you incentivize good stakeholder behavior, the more you are in control of your backlog. Size Of course, urgency and importance are not the only two factors to balance. Part of the difficulty of building a sprint for a product owner is the need to also balance size. Ideally, you want constant progress throughout a sprint. It is common for a feature to get started and then get blocked. That is why you need to include user stories of all sizes. Only having large stories tends to mean stories will get handed off mid-sprint. Knowledge sharing provides value, but mid-sprint handoff only slows progress. If most stories in your backlog tend to be large, small stories will have increased priority in order to fill in a sprint even though they may be of lower importance and only medium urgency. Prioritizing through a mix of urgency, importance, and size doesn’t just create a balanced sprint, it also creates a balanced time orientation. Urgent stories make a team reactive. You can’t look forward when you’re focusing on past mistakes or present pressure. Directing your team’s time orientation beyond the present moment is a key strategy for creating a productive team. Use tactical stories to achieve strategic goals Of course, not every sprint can be a perfect balance of importance, urgency, and size. Like the strategy for directing a team’s time orientation, some choices might be preferred to create or enforce a team culture. While a product owner is the leader of their team, they also answer to stakeholders. And organization objectives, usually data-driven ones, are created with these stakeholders as part of an organizational strategy. The decisions a product owner makes that have a direct impact on reaching these objectives are called tactics. But the product owner is still leading a team! There are many strategic decisions that a product owner makes which may not have a direct benefit to organizational objectives, however, they might lead to a more productive team. Good product owners don’t just focus on tactical decisions of meeting objectives, they refine strategies that benefit the individual team and drive toward objectives in an indirect manner. For instance, retrospectives tend to generate more strategic shifts than tactical shifts. Common examples of tactics used by product owners: Sprints containing stories of varying size Proof of Concept (POC) stories which discover information to do further planning or design Prioritizing the most complex use cases first Prioritizing the most common use cases first Stories that require liaising with other teams, when collaboration is an organizational goal Maintenance which offers innovation affordances Maintenance which increases product stability Common examples of product owner strategies: Cross-training by assigning stories based on areas of weakness Siloing specialties so individuals achieve high efficiency in strategic skills Requiring recorded demos as acceptance criteria for certain stakeholders Requiring regular alpha or beta releases for highly engaged stakeholders to provide feedback “Dead sprints” following releases which allow for feedback to build before addressing it Documentation stories which seek to identify outdated/deprecated documentation and update it in order to lower future bug counts Support buckets, allocated time for bugfixes that can be released ad-hoc instead of on a sprint schedule To clarify, I am not recommending that product owners devote large amounts of resources to tasks which in no way benefit organization objectives. It’s simply a recognition that indirect benefits to objectives lead to success in certain types of organizations. Strategic stories are an intentional investment in greater future value (such as cross-training), although it’s likely that the story could provide a more immediate value to the organization as well. Find ways to regularly invest in maintenance The last key principle faced by new product owners is learning how to please stakeholders while still investing in maintenance. This can sometimes be a challenge because many product owners will get a slap on the wrist if they spend too much time or money on maintenance, and not all maintenance plays are equal. However, I always recommend a portion of each sprint is dedicated to maintenance. There are different types of maintenance, so be sure to find the maintenance tactics that fit your organization’s needs. I’ll highlight a few valuable maintenance story types that have proven effective time after time. Tests Tests almost always are a valuable play. Even for a product that truly requires a higher caliber of quality — where testing is likely a requirement of the product delivery — it is common to discover there are things that lack regular testing. Tests can mean anything from writing automated unit tests for code to walking through the onboarding process to find points of friction. Unit tests make sure untouched features aren’t broken by unrelated changes. End-to-end tests take more time to perform but ensure that the most valuable processes always work. Manual tests, popular for proofs of concept, save the time required to automate tests but take longer to perform, matching a lesser initial investment to the likelihood that something will not be tested often. Manual tests can also be more valuable than unit tests for things that constantly change since overly-specific tests tend to discover more problems with the tests than they do the thing being tested. Find testing methods that work for your product, and don’t forget that processes need tested regularly as well. Support bucket The concept of a support bucket is one of my favorite strategies. It communicates to a team that things worth building are worth maintaining. Refining products regularly shows team members their work is valuable. In cases where there is a strong bug reporting system, it is likely that the team struggles to resolve bugs as fast as they come in. A support bucket is a way to maintain a position of strength. When your team is on top of their bugs, creating a support bucket addresses incoming bugs faster and keeps them from dominating a future sprint. If bugs don’t come in as much as expected, it creates a vacuum that allows team members to define their own work. Many developers relish the opportunity to take two days to refactor code that works but is confusing. However, this is something that can only be done when there are already good tests to ensure it doesn’t cause more problems than it solves. Pre-emptive customer engagement One of the least-used but highest-value maintenance tasks is pre-emptive customer engagement. If bug reports aren’t coming in, that can mean you’ve created a high-quality product! It can also mean you aren’t hearing about difficulties encountered by customers, or customers aren’t adopting product updates for some reason. When user stories are created, it is probably easy to identify real customers to whom this user story will apply. Talk to those customers and ask them how they are using the new features. How to prioritize user stories in Agile All the talk about priority, strategy, tactics, and maintenance is great, but how do I balance ALL of that when assembling a sprint? Much of this depends on the leadership and the number of stakeholders you’re dealing with. Organizational politics can send blue-sky planning into a tailspin. In the real world, you have to not only do good work, but make sure that work gets seen by the right people, and that they are impressed. If your organization’s leadership prioritizes innovation and “shiny things” This is a sign that part of your work is about the ideas and the culture shift. This is a completely valid position for a leader. There are many political advantages to trying new things and building a culture of innovation. It is a great way to gather information for refining organizational strategy. In cases like these, the following breakdown of average sprints works well: 50% strategies of short-term investment that can get thrown out or create a culture of innovation 25% tactics supporting a long-term organizational strategy 25% maintenance Applicable tactics/strategies: POCs, specialized efficiency, regular alpha/beta releases, prioritizing common use cases first, maintenance offering innovation affordances If your organization’s leadership prioritizes long-term strategy, stability or predictable growth This is a sign that part of your job is about giving customers confidence in your products. This is not an anti-innovation position, rather it is a recognition that you are in a position of strength in your market. In cases like these, the following breakdown of average sprints works well: 50% tactics supporting a long-term organizational strategy 25% strategies to shape the team 25% maintenance Applicable tactics/strategies: cross-training, prioritizing most complex use cases first, maintenance improving product stability, improving documentation, support buckets, external liaisons Closing If you’re a product owner or your organization is beginning to adopt Agile, take a look at your organization to find out what your stakeholders truly care about. While every organization is unique, these factors are universal. Tailor your strategies to your team and your tactics to your objectives. Most of all, create balanced sprints which deliver constant progress toward your goals. Analyzing urgency, importance, and size can lead to solid prioritization that drives team success.
What will the future hold when it comes to digital transformation? We don’t have a Magic-8 ball or special spidey sense, but our team does anticipate sizeable change. We asked a few of our team members what they thought based on their work and personal experiences. Here’s what they’re envisioning for 2021 and beyond. The cloud gains more ground I expect cloud-based business application platforms such as Dynamics 365, Salesforce, ServiceNow, and Workday to drive significant digital transformation within modern workplaces in the next year. Following on the heels of many core infrastructure services moving to the cloud — such as email, servers, files, and data — the next major lift for many organizations will be to modernize and automate their core business processes. I anticipate areas like finance, HR, production, and other critical business operations and workflows will be the next major shift to using cloud-based business application platforms. Moving away from legacy, on-premise solutions is not always a simple task, but in doing so, employees can then work remotely without being tethered to an office environment. Greg Deckler, Vice President, Cloud Services Connect with Greg on LinkedIn Remote workers collaborate differently The work-from-anywhere model has been proven to work and it will continue. However, right now, a Zoom meeting is about the extent of what most people see as remote teamwork — and we all know those can be exhausting. I predict greater adoption of tools like Miro and Mural. These online workspaces allow for active collaborating and co-creating in real time. The need to move quickly and keep pace with digital transformation will require these types of tools, and those who know how to leverage them, to make the most of a remote team’s time together. Doug Scamahorn, Solution Director, UX Design & Innovation Connect with Doug on LinkedIn Cookie compensation I think 2021 will be the year when businesses and marketers confront the pending deprecation of the third-party cookie. Google is driving the industry towards new solutions for retargeting and attribution following the announcement that Chrome will cease to support third-party cookies in 2022. While industry players debate over a long-term replacement, expect to see a scramble to shore up first-party data in the meantime. At a tactical level, this will look like increased pushes for “registered” online experiences where users must explicitly identify themselves, as well as the integrations that power these points of data collection. In the background, businesses will be pushing to connect the dots between online and offline touchpoints using a variety of identifiers, from email to devices to data from “walled gardens” like Amazon, Facebook, and even Walmart and Target. Companies may opt for a CDP (consumer data platform) solution on top of their existing data stack to manage data points specifically for targeted marketing campaigns. When reporting on campaign success and attribution, analysts may need to adopt new tools and strategies for managing “fuzzier” readouts on customer behavior and journey identification. Amy Brown, Solutions Director Connect with Amy on LinkedIn Augmented reality becomes actual reality As mobile processing and bandwidth progresses and matures, we can expect more augmented reality (AR) apps to provide visual assistance in a huge range of applications. I fully expect we will see vehicles with heads-up displays, smart glasses (remember Google Glass?), and other clear displays to be adopted by more companies and thus, individuals. Visual processing in itself is gaining in popularity. Retailers like IKEA are already using AR with their IKEA Place app to enable customers to “see” furniture in their spaces. Microsoft’s recent HoloLens release is a good example of where we’re headed. Jeremy Keiper, Competency Lead Connect with Jeremy on LinkedIn B2B marketers will get more creative There’s always been an understanding that marketing is both an art and a science. Over the last decade, marketers have leaned into the science. Data provided marketers with information about customer behavior that was never available before. Even before the pandemic, B2B marketers were relying heavily on digital channels to engage customers. But pandemic office closures caused marketers to rely on channels like email, webinars, social media, and search engine marketing (SEM), in an attempt to reach prospective buyers who were now working from home. And they had to get creative. Marketers had to be willing to test new ideas and try things that haven’t been “proven,” and to think creatively about how we connect with and engage prospects and customers. I anticipate this to continue, and marketers will use customer data to make sure they understand consumer goals and motivations, then get creative about how to reach out and connect. Kristin Raikes, Sr. Director of Digital Strategy Connect with Kristin on LinkedIn Looking ahead Thinking about the year ahead, we do know that even after offices reopen and things get back to “normal,” the new “normal” will look different than it did before. If people continue to work from home or prefer to engage with brands virtually versus physically, then technology will have to adapt. Are there any major trends not listed above that you think will be a key to digital transformation for this year? If you have questions about specific trends, you can also connect with our team via their LinkedIn profiles above. Our consultants and team members work with clients to improve, streamline, and create actionable change. 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Everyone is talking about digital transformation, but there’s a lot of confusion and misinformation about what that term means. Much more than just a buzzword or doing things “digitally,” digital transformation means reimagining your business and driving it forward in a better way. When done correctly, digital transformation can fundamentally change how you deliver value to your customers. That’s what you need to focus on if you want to thrive in this market. Customers today have high expectations and a lot of options, so carefully considering your customer journey is critical to success. Before you get started, here’s an overview of what you need to know about digital transformation and how to continue to drive it forward: What exactly is digital transformation? The evolution of digital transformation Cloud computing fuels digital transformation More than just technology Keys to successful digital transformation The challenges of digital transformation Where are you in your journey? What exactly is digital transformation? Digital transformation is the integration of technology into all areas of a business, fundamentally changing how you operate and deliver value to customers. It can often be confused with digitization or digitalization, but they are all different things altogether. Digitization is the process of taking information and converting it from a physical format to a digital one, like typing up paper notes and putting them into Microsoft Word or scanning into a PDF. Digitalization, on the other hand, uses these digital files to take the processes already in place and make them more efficient using the new digital format. Digitalization allows you to make your processes faster but doesn’t evolve the process itself. Digital transformation does more by enabling you to interact with your customers in a new way that is constantly evolving to meet both their needs and your business needs. By ideating and implementing better business processes and technologies, you’ll not only create an elevated customer experience that will result in increased profitability, but you’ll also save significant time and money in operating costs. The evolution of digital transformation Digital transformation might be a popular term today, but this was also true in the late 1990s through the mid-2000s. It started with companies computerizing processes 30 years ago, and as the internet was established, websites started to connect companies with their customers. That’s when Fusion Alliance got started, and we’ve been focused on the end goal of developing solutions for clients ever since. Digital processes emerged to support customer interactions, from sending emails to managing online ordering. As digital ambitions grew, companies realized a need for dedicated digital teams to manage social and mobile channels. Connected to customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders, companies realized the need to connect all of these data silos. Seeing the potential in connectivity, organizations focused on digital platforms connecting all systems. Then they started to experiment with new digital ways of doing business, leveraging data more effectively, and creating greater agility. Today, we live in a world where customer expectations have never been greater. They demand personalized experiences in every interaction with a company’s products and services. Because of this, companies must innovate quickly and deliver. In addition, the pandemic has forced IT leaders to adapt yet again, with many adopting cloud software for video collaboration and building apps that enable workers to enter offices governed by social distance practices and contact tracing. Technologies such as cloud computing, the Internet of Things, and Artificial Intelligence all power the innovation that is able to deliver value. An important element of digital transformation is technology. But often, it’s more about doing away with outdated processes and legacy technology than it is about adopting new tech. It should also about enabling innovation. Cloud computing fuels digital transformation Companies are increasingly moving toward a hybrid cloud infrastructure. From SaaS applications and on-premise solutions to a mix of public and private clouds, hybrid cloud strategies help companies find the right balance for their unique infrastructure needs. Over the past year, cloud providers like AWS, Azure, Google, IBM, and Oracle have made investments to support hybrid strategies. OEMs like HPE, Dell (VMware), and Cisco have also increased investments in tools that enable simpler connectivity between on-premises data centers and the cloud. These investments are all centered on meeting the customer where they are in the moment. Hybrid cloud adoption was already underway before 2020’s pandemic, but the sudden disruption sped things up. Being agile and nimble was, and still is, a significant business advantage. More than just technology Although the focus of digital transformation is often on emerging technologies moving the business forward, true transformation has to encompass much more. Business leaders at the top level must be involved in this change and must be willing to invest in and empower your employees, as well as focus on building your culture. As employees begin to see changes occurring around them, they might begin to wonder how it will affect them and their coworkers. They may question their own position within the organization and try to figure out their own best next steps. During any transition, leadership must communicate with employees to help them feel secure in their own positions as well as the direction of the organization. Head off potential issues by making sure your employees understand what digital transformation is, what it’s not, and how they can be a part of it. Additionally, it may be best to communicate how rapidly things can change throughout this process. Being as transparent as possible and preparing your employees for future changes can make all the difference in ensuring your digital transformation is successful. Keys to successful digital transformation Data from McKinsey shows that when companies achieve transformation success, they are more likely to have digital-savvy leaders in place. Less than one-third of all respondents say their organizations have engaged a chief digital officer (CDO) to support their transformations. Those that do are 1.6 times more likely than others to report a successful digital transformation. Companies that have already invested in data and infrastructure to support technology efforts are more adept at again succeeding. The keys to finding success with digital transformation projects vary because no two companies are the same. However, we do have a few recommendations: Define what digital transformation means to your business Create a map of where your business is now, including people, process, data, and technology. Then define where your business needs to be. The gap identified becomes a roadmap. Defining the gaps are in the business is the first key step in your digital transformation process. Identify and involve the right internal stakeholders Leaders and decision-makers might not have the insider knowledge to execute technical challenges. Your stakeholders should be throughout the organization, across departments, and exist at different leadership levels. Align with a partner to shepherd the process You might find your business well-suited to tackle projects outside your normal scope of work, but many companies lack the internal resources to be able to undertake larger projects. Finding an outside partner might be helpful to keep things moving and provide direction with next steps. The challenges of digital transformation While digital transformation is worth it and necessary to the survival of your organization, there are challenges that come along with reimagining any new business process. To make your transformation truly successful, ensure that you have a good understanding of your brand and your customers. Without that, the entire digital transformation strategy you build will be misguided, and you’ll end up back on square one. Budget can also be a big hindrance for a lot of companies looking to begin their digital transformation. Often, there are additional resources and training needed upfront. Although the cost savings and increased profitability are worth it in the end, the initial expense can be intimidating. Additionally, poor data quality can become a huge challenge for organizations as they go down the digital transformation road. Poor data analytics often leads companies to make important decisions based on misguided data. Poor data also prevents companies from being able to use emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning, since they prove useless when fed with bad data. Sound strategy and good data will ensure you start your digital transformation journey on the right foot. Where are you in your journey? Whether you’re an established business or a startup, the perfect time for digital transformation is now. No matter how old your business is, your digital transformation will be unique to your organization. It is helpful to think ahead to the future — where do you see your company in the next 5 years? Create a roadmap of where you want to be in terms of customer experience, technology, and data insights, and involve those team members in your planning discussions. By involving decision makers across the organization, you can ensure that you are aligning all parts of your business with the end goal. And, if you can, bring in an experienced third-party to help streamline planning, bring in additional insights, and ensure that your projects run smoothly. Digital transformation allows your organization to deliver the right customer experience to the right people and not only remain relevant in your market, but actually build your brand. One thing is consistent: customers today expect a flawless and customized customer experience, and you’ll need digital transformation to deliver it. Your digital transformation partner Customers today expect a customized customer experience, and you’ll need digital transformation to deliver. When you’re ready, we’re here to help you execute. Need help addressing or assessing where are on your organization’s digital transformation journey? Let us know.
As brands adapt to the consumer-driven Experience Economy, they must be able to evolve their businesses for the digital age. This isn’t an easy task, especially for companies stuck in a mindset that their business is still driven by traditional direct marketing. Evolving the business requires a revamp of most companies’ customer engagement strategies, as well as digital organizational transformation. We went ahead and laid out some of the most significant roadblocks that hinder organizations as they try to implement a successful digital customer engagement initiative and potential fixes for these barriers. Barrier #1: Lack of digital customer engagement roadmap In many cases, organizations fail to create a long-term plan for how they will achieve success with their digital customer engagement initiative. This results in a lack of executive and key stakeholder buy-in, the inability to link the strategy to the corporate vision and mission, and poor adoption across the organization. These factors then lead to budget cuts, resourcing issues, competing priorities, and much more (see below in barriers #2 and 3). How to fix it To be successful, digital customer engagement requires a long-term vision and a planned strategic approach that communicates how it can add commercial and customer value to a brand, including new business and communication models. Organizations need a strategic vision that helps focus on delivering lasting value to your business in the areas of expanding the breadth, depth, and duration of the customer relationship. The result creates a clear call to action for all stakeholders at the outset of the program. After a vision is crafted, create a series of compelling strategic goals and objectives to serve as the foundation of the customer engagement strategy. Develop the strategic goals and objectives to specifically address the various competitive threats, issues, and opportunities identified throughout the strategy project, as well as to tie the efforts to bottom-line results. This vision, along with strategic goals and objectives, then allows organizations to create a customer engagement strategy that is linked to the business strategy, has bold long-term orientation, and is centered around customer needs. Best practice Create a roadmap that will serve as a strategic document and a canvas. It should outline the strategies and tactics across customer experience channels that will drive customer engagement and deliver results, closing the gap between your present experience and the one you envision. The roadmap ties to your defined business goals and KPIs for measuring success. Barrier #2: Organization & talent Unfortunately, most mid-market to Fortune 100 organizations aren’t set up to adopt organizational change without a lot of pushback and hesitation. This results in employees not understanding the intended experience they are supposed to deliver, on-again-off-again customer engagement focus, and a loss of credibility and satisfaction among members of the organization. To become a truly customer-centric company that drives positive interactions and experiences for its customers, organizations must push through these changes or risk falling behind. Below you’ll see a list of the behaviors and barriers that many organizations run into when taking on a transformation of this proportion and how organizations must shift in order to be successful. How to fix it Get senior management’s buy-in to review, authorize, and champion innovation in digital customer engagement. Change is initiated both top-down and bottom-up, but it’s a heck of a lot easier to acquire budgets and internal prioritization when change is coming from above. Speaking of, ensure that you properly budget and invest in digital customer engagement consistent with customer use of those channels. Similar to budgets, the organization should have the right level of resources to meet the requirements of business-critical customer engagement disciplines. You have to put your money where your mouth is and truly believe in the value of becoming more customer-focused. As with any organization, there needs to be the right structure and workflow in place to manage digital customer engagement and provide teams with the necessary insights to do their jobs the right way. Ensure that your employees are empowered and have the skills needed to deliver the experience you desire and to drive the business forward. Have experts in business-critical fields, and provide training where necessary to ensure your employees have the tools to provide truly customer-centric engagement. Finally, remember how you eat an elephant — one bite at a time. Start small by running pilots and scale across departments after you’ve made the business case about the value that investing in digitizing customer engagement can deliver. This won’t fix all the issues listed above, but it’s a start that will put you in a place to be successful — and it won’t completely disrupt your business. Barrier #3: Culture The third major roadblock for organizations is transforming the culture from sales-first to becoming more customer-centric, aligned around customer needs. This should be a direct reflection of the core values of the company. Common culture-related issues are: Getting broad-based buy-in across the organization. A lack of buy-in results from being unable to translate the vision for customer-centricity across the organization and make it actionable in terms of customer interactions down to the most granular decisions for the business. The organization embarks on a transformation journey, but loses focus before achieving the objective. The organization doesn’t have a common definition of what it means to be customer-centric. The organization is slow to change and can’t move from its reactive nature to a proactive one that has a higher risk appetite and acts with speed and agility, willing to test and learn what works and what doesn’t. The last major culture-related issue is that employees are often neglected, resulting in a poor experience for individuals who are carrying out your customer-facing efforts. How to fix it Get executives, key influencers/stakeholders, and employees involved in your customer engagement strategy process as early as possible. Make people of all levels in the organization feel like they are helping shape the outcome for the company and its customers. Communicate your customer-centric vision, objectives, and strategy continuously, and consistently report your progress toward reaching those objectives. Enable employees of all levels, granting them the ability to be responsible for successful customer outcomes and allow them access to training that ensures they perform in a way that matches the organization’s vision. Finally, get comfortable with the unknown, finding ways to run tests and learn in a single department or channel, then scale across the organization. All of these actions will increase the internal investment and accountability of employees at all levels and ensure that you transform your culture to enable your customer engagement initiatives. Barrier #4: Capabilities The final area where most organizations struggle considerably is ensuring they have the capabilities to support a successful digital customer engagement strategy. The greatest areas of concern when dealing with the enablement of digital customer engagement are capabilities in technology, data, and analytics. Point solutions are often purchased for prescriptive reasons and managed in departmental silos, which results in multi-system madness. When trying to carry out their digital customer engagement initiatives, organizations then have issues trying to link different technologies or lack the relevant technology to accomplish the tasks at hand. When it comes to data and analytics, organizations often lack key technology platforms to manage the data, which results in poor data quality. Even more so, many businesses don’t have the discipline to even measure results. When they do, what’s measured is more around internal issues or related to a problem, and the ongoing fragmentation and interpretation of data doesn’t provide any real insights that can drive business decisions around customer success. How to fix it Point blank, organizations need to invest in the best technology platforms to manage digital customer engagement. Marketing, IT, customer experience teams, etc. all need to come together and work collaboratively instead of worrying about sourcing their own solutions. Customer engagement requires key technology platforms, including marketing automation, content management systems, customer experience management systems, and the list goes on. The important thing is that you define what you are trying to achieve and work together as an organization to get the right systems in place to achieve your objective. When it comes to data and analytics, the goal is to get to a proactive approach that provides real-time insights in place. The organization must shift from internal and problem-related measurements to corporate and customer-success measures. A key step will be identifying the appropriate KPIs, information, and knowledge management control processes to fuel your customer engagement and optimize it. Transforming your customer engagement for the digital age isn’t easy, and in many cases it will take some major organizational change. This shouldn’t scare you away, but rather empower you to tackle the initiative and be a change agent who drives vast growth for your business. When you do decide to take this on for your business, beware these major barriers that often hinder success. Some of these challenges are inevitable, but knowing about them, you can now prepare for these roadblocks when they present themselves and take the right steps to move past them toward successful digital customer engagement.
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