The next digital disruption: buying B2B services using social media channels?

Digital Transformation is changing how businesses interact with customers and each other.

In this environment business-to-business (B2B) service providers face the constant threat of “digital disrupters” – new entrants who don’t fundamentally change the underlying product or service but win (or steal?) market share by leveraging new ways to interact with customers/clients and suppliers.

But couldn’t an existing B2B service provider become the digital disrupter by leveraging social media to create a new, differentiated approach to market engagement to deliver sustainable competitive advantage?

Here are some (radical?) ideas…

Customer led innovation: clients could potentially benefit from best practice about digital transformation being shared rapidly from different sectors (for example, the innovative work in UK central government and retail). A service provider could use its social media channel(s) to enable this sharing in an intuitive, dynamic way tailored to specific client needs. Furthermore, the provider could use gamification to incentivise the sharing of insights, advise directly between companies (such as discounting its services for clients providing such support). This would help position the B2B service provider’s brand as a collaborative thought leader in digital transformation.

Deepening personalisation: a provider could engage directly in all the social media activity of a client (at all levels including organisational, team and individual). Although there is a risk of appearing intrusive, it’s a way of building more intimate relationships with existing clients and sourcing new ones. This would also pro-actively complement and enhance other sales and account management approaches it uses.

Intensifying responsiveness: undoubtedly radical and reputationally risky, clients could post their complaints, issues and other feedback directly on a B2B service provider’s social media channels. The value comes from how the provider deals with these issues openly in this public space; a positive opportunity to explicitly demonstrate its strong commitment to quality service delivery.

Buy buttons: underlying these social media channel approaches would be the tools to enable a client to contact a sales representative immediately to purchase the provider’s services. Depending on the agility of the provider, potentially these services could be bought and stood up on the same day – now that’s digital transformation!

If you would like to find out more about how digital transformation can benefit your business, please leave a reply below, or contact the Sopra Steria Digital Practice.

The UX “snowball effect”

How transforming the user experience can deliver rapid, ever-increasing business benefits

A key strength of applying a user centric Agile approach to digital transformation is that it can deliver incremental improvements to the customer and employee experience without having to reconfigure an organisation’s entire operating model “all at once”.  Furthermore this approach can enable further benefits to be potentially realised across the whole business.

These improvements alone may not always generate great bottom line benefits for different organisational stakeholders, but cumulatively they can have a massive (“snowballing”) sustainable impact.  Also this approach may be the only way smaller organisations can realise the benefits of digital ways of working and technology at an acceptable level of risk.

Here’s an example of how this UX snowball effect could potentially deliver the tangible business benefits of digital transformation in less than one year for a medium sized high street and on-line retailer (note all change activities described in this scenario are tactical, not strategic):

  1. An on-line channel requires users to complete a free text form; the process is cumbersome for customers leading to a significant number of complaints and drop-out to off-line sales channels. Based on customer and service centre feedback, the onsite UX team designed and implemented a new on-line form that uses drop down menus. This made the process of completing the form for all users easier and more responsive – and resulted in more on-line purchases and a reduction in complaints
    Cumulative indicative benefits:  improved customer satisfaction score 
  2. Because the UX team used Agile to deliver this user experience enhancement quickly in collaboration with the customer service centre management team, these stakeholders were able to rationalise back office capabilities in parallel that generated cost efficiencies
    Cumulative indicative benefits: improved customer satisfaction score + reduced costs to serve 
  3. The significantly reduced admin burden meant sales staff could focus on higher value engagement activities such as engaging new customers
    Cumulative indicative benefits: improved customer satisfaction score + reduced costs to serve + increased new customer acquisition 
  4. The user-friendly on-line form also enabled cleaner, more accurate data to be collected about customers’ browsing and purchasing behaviour; using money saved from back office efficiencies, managers invested in analytics/reporting tools to create a better understanding of customer needs based on this deeper information. This insight meant the company could pro-actively respond to the changing demands of individual customers
    Cumulative indicative benefits:  improved customer satisfaction score + reduced costs to serve + increased new customer acquisition + data driven personalisation 
  5. Using insights gathered from the data analysis, marketing were able to use this evidence to build a business case for new innovative services that addressed genuine gaps in the market
    Total UX “snowball benefits” realised in one year: improved customer satisfaction score + reduced costs to serve + increased new customer acquisition + data driven personalisation + lower risk diversification

…And all resulting from innovating the user experience for completing an on-line form!

If you would like more information about the issues discussed in this post, or how digital transformation can benefit your business, please leave a reply below, or contact the Sopra Steria digital practice

Make your enterprise social media initiative a success

Enterprise social media initiatives (ESI) such as the introduction of Yammer or Lync communication and collaboration tools can make a big difference to the digital transformation of an organisation.

Here are my top tips for maxmising the tangible and intangible benefits of an ESI for your business, employees and customers:

1. Focus on improving processes
Use enterprise social media tools to accelerate or optimise existing business processes – it’s not just an intranet replacement; it should drive competitive advantage.

2. Connect with the real world
Talk to your employees daily about insights and challenges they raise on your enterprise social media channels to reduce organisational risks and improve performance.

3. Be Visual. Be Relevant. Be Exciting!
Just like any other social media channel, ESI content should be engaging and informative to ensure employees get benefit quickly.

4. Use your enterprise social initiative to improve customer engagements
Employee generated content should directly inform product/service development – ESI empowers your people to innovate and own the customer experience.

Potential benefits of a successful enterprise social initiative:

  • Less time spent on low value activities
  • Lower risk of silo working
  • Better employee engagement
  • Bottom up innovation

If you would like to find out more about how an enterprise social media initiative can benefit your business please leave a reply below, or contact the Sopra Steria Digital Practice.

Why 2015 is the right time to invest in digital transformation

Through all the hype, buzz and noise around “digital” there are some compelling reasons why organisations should be investing proactively in this area in 2015 to strategically grow their business.

Preparation for an uncertain, disruptive future
Mass market access to digital technology combined with new entrants aggressively disrupting traditional service delivery models means implementation of strategy is increasingly becoming tactical and variable. Digital transformation helps an organisation achieve competitive advantage by integrating business and IT strategy processes together to deliver a shared definition of what “good looks like” for different organisational stakeholders (including customers) in this dynamic environment. Previous approaches where such bottom line objectives were probably separate and often divergent are now unsustainable.

It “forces” an organisation to address difficult pain points in its existing operating model
Successful digital transformation should deliver an optimised operating model that enables a consistent, personalised user experience across different on-line and off-line channels.  For many organisations it is likely there are underlying complex business and technical issues that need to be addressed for this transformation to succeed (poor data quality, ageing IT infrastructure and inflexible, unaligned working practices being typical examples). Dealing proactively with these strategic problems now mitigates future risks of an organisation narrowly focusing on user experience improvements to drive profitability because its structural issues have become too costly, too difficult to resolve.

It’s a buyers’ market right now for innovative digital transformation service
Many consultancies, system integrators, outsourcers, design agencies and start-ups are today passionately trying to sell their own digital transformation services. This is a great opportunity for organisations to lever these market conditions (i.e. “shop around”) to find the right solutions that deliver maximum tangible benefits specifically tailored for them.

If you would like more information about the issues discussed in this post, or how digital transformation can benefit your business, please leave a reply below, or contact the Sopra Steria digital practice

Have you got your digital transformation strategy defined?

Digital transformation strategy is about enabling enterprise and embracing digital disruptions to evolve new digital business models.

In the digital business ecosystem, there are technovators (technology innovators) who research and innovate disruptive technologies, and there are biznovators (business innovators) who evolve new digital business models. Biznovators leverage technology disruptions such as drone-based delivery or aerial photography and video surveillance, use 3D printers to enable customers to order tailor-made products to their liking or health scientists to print 3D vertebra for corrective spine surgery in humans.

These new digital business models leverage the Nexus of Forces, help enterprises achieve competitive advantage and are recognised as the leaders in technology-led business innovations. For new digital business models to succeed, the DNA of the enterprise needs to change to be able to support the flux of operations triggered by the mix of traditional business models and new digital business models.

Take the case of Amazon and Dominos who might use drones to deliver supplies to customers. While this does not replace the existing delivery model that has been their core business model, the new digital business model opens upa new market segment and an expanded customer base. To achieve the desired business velocity, organisations would have to adopt a bimodal strategy where they continue to support the core business model with existing IT, whilst they evolve lean and agile operations leveraging digital disruptions to enable and support new digital business models.

This bimodal strategy applies to enterprises that want to take on the digital transformation roadmap including the IT service providers who play a major role in helping enterprises with their digital transformation. As IT service providers continue to support enterprises to manage and maintain their existing business models and operations, they will have to develop a parallel IT ecosystem consisting of the young turk technocrats and digital strategists to help customers’ CMOs and CIOs adapt and adopt disruptive technologies to evolve new digital business models leveraging the Nexus of Forces.

The bimodal strategy should only be a tactical approach for the near-term with the long-term objective being convergence of the existing operations and IT with the new lean and agile IT. This will help enterprises to streamline their bottom line with unified operations that are capable of supporting the coexistence of both business models to continuously improve and expand the top line.

To get started, enterprises need to assess where they rank in the digital maturity model and think about their digital business growth.

Why digital transformation? My current three key questions – what are yours?

i) What things CAN’T your customers or employees do on their own mobiles to use or serve your products and services?

ii) Do you have one application that gives your employees all the RIGHT information about the relationship you have with a specific customer or client?

iii) Is there is one area of your business (no matter how small or large) that if improved to WORK SMARTER could deliver big benefits quickly for customers and/or employees?

Answering one or more of these questions can help a client find the critical pain points that could be addressed using new ways of working supported by digital technology – the power of digital transformation!

Let me know your top three…

How can digital lead to strategic stagnation? And how to avoid it

Responding proactively in an instant to an individual user is arguably at the heart of the digital experience.

But as a result are companies being increasingly tactical in their outlook?

I use different digital banking services from two major high street banks yet their digital channels practically look and feel the same – the difference is the product not the channel.

The other day I was comparing prices for a product across different on-line retailers; if it wasn’t for their different logos the experience was pretty much uniform across all of them. Even the big data(?) driving my personalised experience felt repetitive – probably because they were all using the same personal and social information to engage me.

I expect government information to be available digitally and all in one place – an intuitive experience like on-line retail. As a user I don’t necessarily care about how that information is produced as long as it’s accurate and doesn’t require me to go anywhere else.

To succeed, companies and organisations need to respond quicker, faster and smarter to my needs – a tactical, not a strategic response. And that’s just for one user; is there a risk that chasing competitive advantage by meeting the tactical needs of thousands or millions of users could result in a company not having sufficient resources to adapt strategically when further market disruptions occur? Or alternatively end up being dependant on technology change to innovate, differentiating the user experience rather than the company’s own products and services?

What ways can companies and organisations enjoy the benefits of digital transformation while keeping the right tactical AND strategic focus for their business?

  1. The old rules still apply: competitive advantage still comes from increasing differentiation and managing cost – give your customers what they want short- and long-term using digital only where it adds value (not the other way round)
  2. Digital is immature; it needs your guidance: use the same measures and indicators for offline vs digital channels and regularly compare their relative performance to each other (and competitors). This should indicate if your digital strategy implementation is moving in the right long term direction rather than delivering only short term tactical benefits
  3. Live and breathe Agile – even strategically; it’s not easy to move from Waterfall but the benefits of being responsive, open about failing fast enables genuine learning that creates innovation that delivers sustainable tangible business benefits

Let me know what you think…