Four tips to help launch your digital journey

The following post was originally published by DigitalThirst. Its author, David Shukri, is a retail industry champion at Bluefin Solutions, a Mindtree company and global SAP consultancy that specializes in technology strategy, implementation and change.

Digital transformation can seem like a daunting task. Adapting a firm’s culture, processes and technology to meet the needs of fast-changing, multichannel customers isn’t the kind of thing you’ll have figured out before lunch!

Add an array of vendors and agencies pushing the latest buzzwords and hyped-up fads to the mix, and you’ll have a recipe for disaster, or at the very least, a bit of rubble.

Of course, digital transformation isn’t just about technology for technology’s sake. It’s about using data to improve the way you engage with customers. It’s about unifying web content so your brand speaks with one consistent voice. It can even involve digitizing your supply chain to improve availability and reduce costs.

People embarking on this journey constantly refer to the same issues. So here are four of the most common I hear about, together with some thoughts about how to overcome them:

Create a personalized solution

Just as your customers dislike generic messages and untargeted content, businesses prefer a tailored approach as well. They don’t want a standard template that’s rolled out again and again. Many larger technology service providers favor this route because it works for them, but digital transformation is all about personalization.

Recently, we had a customer decide that it was time to rationalize the number of content management systems instances in their business. At this time, the total had grown to more than 30 systems. They were swamped by claims from dozens of vendors, each asserting its solution was the right one for the business. In reality, no single answer was capable of meeting the company’s requirements on its own. However, with good, impartial advice that focused on their requirements, they established the right combination of tools for their long-term needs.

A cookie-cutter methodology based on assumptions won’t deliver the differentiation you need to stand out from your competitors. It has to begin with reviewing your business problem, understanding your customer engagement and allowing a customized solution flow from there. Beware of the vendor that says they have the perfect solution for you right out of the gate.

Move with speed and agility

A successful digital journey does not mean rebooting your entire operation and starting from scratch. Anyone who’s been in business a while has all sorts of legacy systems and processes that need to be accounted for. However, as the front end wizzes towards a bright new future, the back end is still lagging behind. If that means Agile, iterative processes are called for, your digital partner should be able to deliver that, rather than dictate a predetermined path.

Optimizing your existing supply chain, while at the same time delivering an exciting new customer experience, is incredibly important. Think about the last great online experience you had that wasn’t backed up by an equally impressive standard of delivery. Maybe the item you ordered was out of stock or the service fully subscribed. Perhaps something got delivered to the wrong address, or, as happened to me recently, the order never even reached the fulfilment department. Did you give them a second chance? I certainly did not!

It’s this dual-speed execution that delivers real value for all. Make sure the vital parts of your value chain are not left behind.

Prioritize innovation

Many digital transformations fail to reach their potential because they haven’t pushed the boundaries of what’s possible and fail to look far enough into the future. Many vendors simply do not have what it takes to support meaningful innovation and imagination. You’re looking for a vendor that can call upon a broad mix of skills to create new concepts and models that have genuine potential and value to add to your business.

During my time in the food industry, I came across three kinds of suppliers: the one-product wonders, the time-wasters and the innovators. The first two were equally bad when it came to innovation. They either relied too heavily on a single product to deliver growth, or threw the kitchen sink at me with endless innovations that were neither customer-focused nor insight-driven. The innovators, while few and far between, were worth their weight in gold because of their creativity and their commitment to long-term growth.

When you find an innovative partner that clicks with your team, you’ll start to realize all kinds of new possibilities. That’s when you’ll truly begin to see what the future of your business could look like.

Collaborate. It’s hard—but essential

When all said and done, digital transformation is a complex task. By its nature, reaching your objectives takes a number of partners, all working smoothly together—strategic, creative, technical, large, medium and small. Yet, if you don’t have a central linchpin with the expertise and culture to collaborate well, it could lead to problems. Everyone will say they’re collaborative, but dig deeper and see if that’s really written into their DNA. Your multi-vendor ecosystem deserves an anchor partner with the right attitude and experience to make it work for you.

Nobody likes to waste money and no one likes to fail, so picking a strong partner for your digital transformation is one of the most important decisions you will make.

I’d love to hear about obstacles you’ve encountered on your digital transformation journey. Contact Mindtree to learn more about how we can help.

To read the original article, go to DigitalThirst.