8 Key Considerations When Planning Your Digital Transformation – Part 1

by Chris Horn

If you’re wondering how to start adapting your business to the new digital buying environment you’re far from alone. Working out what digital means for your business is hard enough. Translating that into what you need to do, in what order and subsequently driving the organisation-wide transformation makes for a formidable challenge.

It’s clear to most that the digitally-empowered customer – one who demands a highly relevant and personalised experience on their terms – is now in charge. To stay relevant and effectively cut through in this new environment, B2B organisations need to develop a far more integrated and customer-centric approach – one that places the needs, preferences and buying behaviour of the new buyer at the centre of everything they do.

But where do you actually start? Across our work helping clients design and implement their digital transformations, we’ve observed a number of themes dominating the early stages of their journey. As you begin to form and finalise plans or roll out your transformation program, here’s some key considerations we believe are critical to ensuring success:

1. Business-wide education 
You won’t be able to adapt if people aren’t fully behind customer-centricity, so educating the business on the need to transform is critical. Internal resistance to change is inevitable when embarking on a transformation journey. A major reason why is that many staff haven’t yet felt the pinch of the new buying environment and therefore aren’t completely sold on the imperative to adapt. Fear is also a major reason. For instance, with today’s customers preferring to self-inform and interact through digital channels, they are now engaging sales much later in the process. This means marketing now owns much more of the traditional sales funnel – a shift that sales may perceive as a threat to their existence.
 

2. A new level of customer understanding
Successful organisations already know their customers and their core needs well. However a deeper level of customer understanding is required to deliver a truly personalised experience end-to-end. In addition to an intimate understanding of the buyer’s journey, organisations need to ask specific questions about each of their key customer personas; what drives their perception of value? What are their needs at each step? What are their content and channel preferences? Answers to these questions will form the critical foundation that will underpin relevant marketing and sales execution.
 

3. Alignment behind priority customer segments
Many organisations make the mistake of trying to be hyper-relevant to everyone, but broad targeting is increasingly less likely to deliver the value and relevance today’s customer expects. You simply can’t be relevant to everyone. To succeed in the new buying environment, organisations need to consciously choose which key market segments they want to be relevant to. The next critical step is to align product, marketing and sales around these segments and ensure 100% of their activity is focused on those chosen segments. This cross-functional alignment around priority audiences underpins the ability to be relevant to customers, as well as ensuring marketing and sales resources are deployed towards the most profitable opportunities.
 

4. Dissolution of all customer-facing silos
To make the shift to customer-centricity, organisational design has to change. Most organisations are structured around functional, product or channel divisions for internal efficiency. Naturally, different cultures, systems and processes evolve over time - creating a siloed environment that makes delivering a seamless customer experience challenging. Careful planning is required to break down these silos. From leveraging new processes or technology that integrate data and workflows across functions, to introducing a single point of ownership of the customer experience across the business – the exact solution will vary for every organisation. 

​Stay posted for the next instalment in this two-part series where I’ll explore the last four considerations which drive success when planning your digital transformation.