The business landscape has changed profoundly over the past 10 years and ‘digital’ has become so ingrained in our daily lives that it’s difficult to imagine how we ever survived without it.
As our human behaviour has naturally changed in response to these new tools & technologies, so must the behaviour of B2B companies if they want a chance to capture our attention.
It may sound rather Darwinian, but it’s becoming accepted that B2B companies must evolve and undergo digital transformation or they risk going extinct within the next 4 years. Despite this acceptance, a recent survey by BlackBerry revealed that “only 37% of companies actually have formal digital transformation plans in place today.”
When digital transformation can secure the longevity & survival of a business, it’s clear that CEOs need to make it a priority in 2018. So what can discerning CEOs, CMOs and digital decision-makers do to embrace digital transformation in 2018?
1. Get Clear on the Vision & Leadership
Especially for businesses that have been long-established, it’s clear that digital transformation is not an overnight process, nor is it merely a ‘project’. It’s a long-term operation that requires a great deal of vision and the right leadership.
As digital transformation impacts so many areas of business - from personnel, to operations and potentially even the business model itself, it’s important that all bases are covered (at least in theory) upfront.
Adopting a strategic approach to digital transformation will allow businesses to focus on achieving the most critical objectives first. With it being a long-term initiative, it’s also a good idea to secure some ‘quick wins’ that will encourage key stakeholders to get behind the vision to keep things moving forward.
As the digital world moves at such a rapid pace, business leaders at the forefront of a company’s digital transformation must be digitally savvy, adaptable when it comes to their vision and flexible when it comes to their approach.
They must lead the charge by defining realistic expectations of what can be achieved and how long it will take to roll out a digital transformation plan. This is no mean feat, as in reality, a true digital transformation plan is likely to be something that’s continually updated and therefore can never be fully completed. That being said, a clear vision will set the right pace and tone to spark the beginnings of a successful digital transformation process.
2. Map the Digital Customer Journey
According to econsultancy, up to ⅔ of the customer’s journey to purchase is now being conducted online before they ever interact with a human. With this in mind, it’s wise to update your customer journey from a ‘digital first’ perspective. In order to get to grips with this, some key questions to ask are:
Who exactly is our customer?
Which tools do they prefer to use to discover & become aware of us?
How do they prefer to consume digital information?
What are the key touch points?
How have they changed in the last 10 years?
Why have they changed?
What are our customers’ key motivations at each step along the journey?
With a more accurate and ‘digital first’ perspective on your customer journey, you’ll be better equipped to anticipate and meet the needs of your prospects.
We recommend that digital leaders revisit this exercise at least once every year to ensure that they’re moving with the times and are providing the best possible customer experience.
3. Invest in Digital Channels
Research has shown that more than ⅓ of people expect a business’ website to be their most helpful channel, proving just how important it is to cultivate a strong digital presence.
Today’s customers expect nothing less than a stellar digital experience and that can cover anything from:
the time it takes a website to load
the ease of navigation and search tools available on a website
the wealth of information available to help them make a decision (e.g. webinars, whitepapers, blog posts etc.)
how tailored that information is to their unique needs
the time it takes them to get a response from the customer service team
evidence of how the business has treated other customers on social media (via reviews or responses to complaints)
This means that a large part of a successful digital transformation initiative hinges on investing heavily in digital channels that will allow businesses to communicate their brand effectively and capture new business as a result.
How could your digital channels be improved and scaled up to become best in class in 2018? If you want to take a closer look at how some B2B giants are tackling digital transformation, keep an eye on insights & commentary from General Electric and JP Morgan’s journeys.
Is digital transformation at the top of your agenda for 2018? Tweet us @DMA_Partners and let us know your thoughts.