As we pass the halfway mark of this series it is a good time to ask the question about when and how?
If you have read the previous parts of the series, I hope you agree by now that digital transformation is inevitable and necessary, but you may be unsure of the urgency. Maybe sales are strong, your customers are happy, your employees are productive, and now doesn’t seem like the time to embark on a resource-intensive project that will shake up your operations.
There are a few reasons to embrace the digital future sooner rather than later.
Engaged employees. Disengaged employees costs world wide economies trillions of rands each year. Digital businesses empower employees through transparency, learning opportunities, and open communication. By providing employees with data (something 90% of employees want, according to a recent survey in the MIT Sloan Management Review), businesses can track and improve their performance. It has been proven that engaged employees have a direct impact on your revenue. If you are in business to make money, surely you would want to increase your revenue right? Start with your employee engagement.
Increased profits. Businesses can expect to grow revenues by 23% as a result of adopting digital strategies like using data to make smart decisions and training employees in emerging technologies. Not only are you driving revenue up, but also driving costs down by digitising processes, operational automation, data driven decisions and the list just goes on.
Greater resilience. New technologies will continue to shake up customer expectations and processes. A digital business builds resilience by replacing rigid structures and inflexible processes with a workplace culture and infrastructure that can respond and adapt to new demands. This is especially true if you are a B2C business. Customer expectations are growing as fast as technology. In fact I will go so far and say that in some cases consumer expectations grow faster than technology which is the very reason for the technology growth in the first place. Technology growth exists to satisfy the crazy fast growing needs of the consumer.
Avoiding the competency trap. Many companies assume that their current success (and the methods that enable it) will continue indefinitely. Then they end up scrambling to adapt when it stops working. You’ll have to change eventually, and waiting until you have to, means you’ll be making decisions for short-term survival rather than long-term growth. You will be playing catch up for a while, that will change to hanging on for dear life and soon the crash will hit you like a fast moving train. You could have been on the train had you acted early enough.
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So with 2019 being the year it is meant to be – a massive focus on our customer’s experiences and building stronger and much deeper connections with our customers. Our enterprise’s ability to deliver (and compete) on customer experience hinges on whether our digital transformation strategy is on par with where it needs to be.
A frightening realisation that crossed my mind was that even though executives understand digital’s potential to transform how businesses create and deliver customer value, most do not have the required skills or talent to carry out this transformation or drive the process and that only a handful of leaders have confidence in their technologies to execute their digital strategy.
To some executives digital transformation is a threat to their careers and instead of embracing this much required change, they navigate around it. It is 100% obvious that very large percentages of sales in the future will come from digital sources which will be devastating or even detrimental to companies that do not have the digital processes and strategies in place to capitalise on those opportunities.
Clearly, many companies are failing to face the digital transformation imperative. How can they resolve this?
In my opinion, there are three stages of transformation that leads to a digital first organisation.
Phase 1 | People
As discussed in the previous parts of this series, successful digital transformation is really all about people.
Before your organisation can digitise, your people has to undergo massive transformation. I am talking about a massive paradigm shift in the way people perceive work. Change at this level is hard. I learnt this the hardest of ways. I realised that you get those that change, and that you need to get rid of those that cannot change. People often need to go through a personal risk assessment before they commit to helping you change the organisation. They need to know how the changes will affect them. They worry about whether they’ll be able to perform — and some will lose confidence and wonder if they should start looking for a different employer.
So to start, you need clarity on the role, or roles, people will play in the process.
Who should be involved?
Who’s in charge?
Who owns the transformation?
Who needs to work better together to make digital a new way of life?
So many firms with a mature digital strategy see competing departments wanting to own digital as the most significant barrier to effective digital transformation in their organisation.
Do you have the right people with the right skill sets? Will you need to outsource? Can you build a transformation engine fast enough, or would bringing in outside experts speed things up?
Address these aspects first and then clearly define roles. Without the right people and the right alignment, digital transformation will remain just one more siloed initiative.
Phase 2 | Technology
Today’s products are really about product plus experience, which naturally leads to these questions:
What impact will digital transformation have on your product and the experience around it?
How is your product going to evolve because of this, and most importantly, the user experience?
After you get the people factor right, your next focus should be on the technology needed to support the kind of digital transformation that improves customer experience. While 89% of enterprises are investing in tools and technology to improve their customer experience initiatives, too few are relying on real-time data to inform decisions. Today’s customers expect a hyper-personalised experience, and to truly provide that, you need a 360-degree view of the customer.
Comprehensive customer experience data platforms offer a secure, singular view of the customer in real time. They provide users with insights into every customer interaction across every touchpoint so customer experiences can be truly personalised. This is a critical aspect of digital transformation.
Next, how will you measure success?
Digital transformation requires significant investment in people, processes and technology, so how will you measure your return? Is revenue the only measure? Or might decreasing the cost of customer acquisition, fulfilment and store investments with more e-commerce gauge the value of digital transformation to your enterprise?
It should be noted that the most important performance metric is the impact on customer experience — which translates into increased retention and revenue. Brand value and Net Promoter Score can also be non-revenue and non-cost vital metrics to track performance.
Phase 3 | Processes
The obvious path is to have IT drive digital transformation in cooperation with marketing. But keep in mind that the impact on customer experience should drive decisions around your process.
Digital transformation must happen across the enterprise, but it doesn’t have to happen all at once. Start where it will make the greatest impact coupled with a high probability of success (and, often, with the lowest risk to negatively affecting customer experience). Should it be internal or external? Online only? Online and in store?And which areas of the business will undergo transformation first?
Remember, where you start will have a ripple effect on the entire enterprise and a correlating impact on customer experience. Quick, small successes are infinitely better than a grandiose strategy with a high degree of risk that takes forever to implement. For example, bots are still in their infancy, yet some enterprises are deploying them because of the promise they offer to cut customer service costs and provide faster response times.
The process you use to drive digital transformation must be carefully balanced with the maturity of the technologies you’re implementing, the ability of your people to implement them and the patience and tolerance levels of customers to experience them. Your process may not be IT and marketing first — it might be IT and customer service in conjunction with marketing. It might be IT and logistics and fulfilment. Customise a process that truly makes sense for your enterprise. It doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s path, it just has to work for you and your particular needs and goals.
Keep Moving Forward
Digital capabilities such as e-commerce, websites, mobile apps, email marketing and social media will fall short if the enterprise is not able to hyper-personalise customer experience and meet the customer in the moment, when and where they choose to engage. Implement the three Phases of digital transformation and you will successfully bring your enterprise into the Digital Age and position your business to compete on customer experience.
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I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid, I remember computers as a device for work more than personal use. My parents bought our first computer when I was about 11 years old and primarily used it for work. For the first time, a device allowed them to do work from home. My brother and I had limited access to it at first, and as the Internet evolved and more and more new games were released, we gained more access and slowly the computer transitioned to a family device, not to mention an increase in feuds too.
It was clear from the start that the brands that understood the internet and maximised on the opportunities it presented were the brands that saw the most growth. Exponential, previously unheard of growth.
They called it the .com boom, but a more accurate description would be the .com nuclear explosion.
Interfaces and websites back then looked horrific. They were illogical, difficult to use and lacked the sexiness you see in interfaces today.
What has changed?
Web design changed fast and dramatically.
Big brands started seeing websites as a core part of their brand identity. An extension of the brand on the web and now handheld devices.
If the brand is there to represent values and emotions, there are no exceptions — every asset created by the brand needs to be applied on the website too, and now apps.
Since the mid-2000s, companies have increased investment into their online presence, especially since the growth of social media, which is one of the primary marketing touch points today. Since brands were now reaching their audiences through digital first, a strong focus shifted towards visuals and the experience created by them.
Now you can measure things
The major advantage you have with digital, besides the directly targeted reach, is its ability to provide a vast variety of analytics that traditional channels like TV, Newspapers, and Billboards could never do. Behind these statistics is feedback from real people. They show you what is more attractive and what isn’t, what works and what doesn’t. What is supporting the business objective and what isn’t? The combination of the drive to create beautiful brand assets, the ability to measure their performance and get valuable feedback has given birth to User Experience ( UX ).
These newly discovered web analytics guided designers and developers to create breathtakingly beautiful visuals and to create perfect user experiences that work. Experiences that keeps users engaged and converted. With numbers and design thinking combined, creative teams can optimise the experience that guides users through their desired actions quickly.
UX is the meeting point between art and science. It’s about utilising scientific research and experimenting to create art that supports business goals.
UX became the standard
You cannot ignore UX.
If you have hopes of your website being found and deliver leads or sales, you cannot ignore UX. Users visit websites for various reasons and to get them to complete certain tasks they have to find it first, with minimal effort.
Apart from the query itself and the relevance of the content you provide, Google requires you to provide a proper user experience.
As their bots crawl your website, they check whether the loading time is short, the images are properly described, what’s the experience on mobile and so on. They are the requirements that your website needs to meet, but it all stems deeply from the UX.
Performance is highly important. Users judge your brand by their experience on your app or website. Disappoint them on experience and they will drop their impression of your products or services. They go very much hand in hand.
Movement is the new flat
UX revolutionised the building of apps and websites, and similarly, a new movement has risen to change the way businesses produce their videos. Video and animation have become the centrepiece of digital experiences.
The video is now the preferred source of information worldwide and on all platforms and it overcomes barriers like time, language and culture like no other medium before it. The video takes complex product introductions and simplifies the message into an easy to understand 60-second sales pitch.
A simple A-B test will prove that video is way more effective than text or images. Create a landing page with a video on and another with only an image and text that explains your product. Sit back and see what happens. The analytics will clearly favour the video page.
The question now on your mind is why?
Video is more in touch with our own human nature. It is closer to our reality and easier to comprehend than text or photos. Video can transfer emotions and create memorable connections. Think about wedding videos compared to photos. The still images show you what the day looked like, how people dressed and what food was present. Video transfers the emotions of the day through music, speeches, tears rolling down a cheek, facial expressions need I say more? You get the idea.
The best of all, is we don’t need special devices to watch videos. Unlike the past where we required a DVD player connected to some sort of screen to watch video, we now live in a time where videos can be watched instantly from the palms of our hands from a variety of devices. A video gets posted online and it is instantly accessible to 7 billion people. Today we are totally overwhelmed by content and our lives get fuller and fuller, so naturally, time to spend reading has decreased significantly. People want information at their fingertips and they want to digest it as fast as possible. Text takes a lot of time to read and the reader is left to put together their own emotions, which means they might miss the real message. People tend to skim over long pieces of text which means they could easily miss what you are trying to say.
On the other side, there are marketers and business owners who see higher engagement with the video and more leads and conversions brought by it. The whole market is therefore convinced that they just have to use video. No matter what it is and how it is made, it has to be there.
Just as UX has become a prerequisite of website or interface design, so has video. The design first approach has now evolved into a video first approach.
Meet the all-new Viewer Experience ( VX )
It is still early days for video in digital experience design, its full potential will only be revealed over the next few years. What I am very sure of is that if you don’t have a video focused design process now, you are going to fall behind and it will become increasingly difficult to recover.
Every aspect of design has a purpose. Every button placement was the result of deep research and A/B testing. All that to entertain, engage, amaze, and guide users across the webpage and convert them to customers.
Video is doing the exact same thing.
Until now videos were considered separate assets that flow out of the interface’s functionality to briefly explain something or advertise something. It was never part of the experience or functionality. The new approach is different. Video is now very much part of the brand and the journey of the user. Unlike cold Youtube embedded videos in the past, HTML5 provides creative opportunities to make video an integral part of the user flow inside the interface. This new Viewer Experience ( VX ) enables brands to tell their stories in an even more compelling way.
What is VX really?
VX is utilising all mediums, text, image, and video to create a more complete brand experience for viewers.
Even though videos have different purposes and are created for different channels and formats, they all fit into the brand’s identity and positioning. No matter if it is an animated infographic, explainer video, tutorial, social media video, pre-roll ad, or an on-boarding video in the platform. As with UX, every aspect of VX should be planned and executed carefully. You need to A/B test videos and use proper market research to go with the version that does the job best.
Press play to view this video
Press play to view this video
In order to create a successful video, you need answers to these questions.
Who is the audience?
What do they want to achieve?
Where did they come from to the video?
What was the previous step on their journey?
What device are they using to watch it?
What should they do after they view the video?
How can you guide them towards there?
This is a long list and it’s not even all of them. Research the answer to each question carefully and comprehensively. With the answers, you then create mockups and prototypes and test and retest them to prove whether the concept will achieve your desired outcome. The rules work the same as it does for UX.
With repeatable results that support your goals, you can gain confidence to release the video. Or the opposite — work more on it.
This scientific approach might seem over the top or to system heavy and emotionless. Relax, not the case, the results are better.
Let’s test the two against each other. Knowing the VX approach with proper research and testing before final product is released, let’s look at the video creation process without it.
So, the creative team understands the brief of the video, they throw around some ideas and produce the coolest picks of the bunch. The final production gets uploaded to the particular channels on which it will be used. Time goes by and you gather the information you require for your report on whether it worked or not.
That’s ‘throw dirt and watch where it sticks’ game. It’s not doomed from day one. Some videos may become viral, some will die early on. There’s just a lot of uncertainty in such a process.
Viewer Experience is more focused on utilising time to deliver great videos, rather than dig through a bunch of scientific experiments. After the assumptions are formed, the creative work comes in heavily.
There are stories, formats, styles, and messages to be created. Video creation is, therefore, a process that involves and requires both science and art, the creative work and the research. This is how you create exceptional visuals that correspond to the brand and attract its audience.
Remember to hit play…
A shift to VX does come with challenges
VX does introduce new challenges to the creative world. Creatives need to rethink the way they approach visuals. This movement to VX is accelerating really fast and now that it has a name, more and more companies will get on board and join the movement.
The challenge lies in keeping VX standardised. All brand design touch points, websites, apps, or social media profiles will need a new design system that will guide users to action and keep them engaged. This new standard will take time. Brands need to re-think visuals, spend time on research, create the new systems and brand assets.
Is it worth the effort and investment?
The video below is the perfect example of how video is used to maximise content exposure to increase conversion rates. Here Invisionapp gives the user access to 3 videos just on the landing page alone, and above the fold. Incredible. Notice the first video is in the background, the second video options are in the bar at the top and the third video link is in the middle at the bottom.
Remember to hit play…
Here are the benefits
A standardised , well-researched visual brand style guide will take a lot of work and financial investment. But once the time and money have been spent, there will be much less guesswork and the brand visuals will be on an incredible and memorable standard. The more brands that follow this movement the more consistency will arise from it, introducing an entirely new way of brand engagement. I believe the end result will be highly beneficial to both brand and consumer. With the VX approach, brands will convert better, increasing sales while delivering valuable content to their audience desires, forming deeper, more meaningful connections.
With research and goals towards visuals in place, brands can target new segments with much higher confidence and a probability of success.
Although VX is more expensive than traditional mediums, the return is much higher, making it a worthwhile spend. Don’t think of it as how much you are going to spend, but rather how much will you be getting in return.
Focus your strategy around your return, not the spend.
When will this movement start?
We are already there, but the concepts are still very much experimental. We will see wider and wider adoption of VX across all brands in all industries in the years to come until it explodes in the same way UX did.
Should you join the movement?
Like any new thing that requires some effort to implement, smaller businesses might be more hesitant to join VX. Their advantage is the ability to adapt to the market faster, but on the other hand, they need to spend every dollar wisely to grow. VX will give them the ability to compete against the big brands on equal grounds.
It will be easier for the bigger, established brands to lead the VX movement — and this is what is happening right now, but it is easy enough for smaller companies to watch, learn and follow. The small businesses that follow first will be the ones that have the advantage above their competitors.
Early adopters will get great results. Those that will be too late when everyone will be using it, might end up just like any brand that was late for the worldwide change.
Where are you, Blackberry?
Need a professional video made for your business? Here are some examples of the videos produced by Digital Drawing Room.
Digital transformation refers to the adoption of digital processes and tools to achieve strategic business goals and automate operational processes. It’s a complex, multifaceted process that represents a massive cultural shift in the workplace and impacts every part of an organisation.
Few things in business are more important than client happiness. This is especially true for companies in the services industry. As a startup or young business, however, this is much easier said than done. I have seen this in our own businesses; when you are in your growth stages and you don’t have a key account or relationship manager in your business, it is very difficult to maintain healthy client relationships.
Ok, I admit this is a very strong statement seeing that I most probably haven’t seen your website yet, but now that I have your attention you might as well continue reading to see whether I am right or not.