It is no secret that that the rise in digital adoption has forced the convergence of new age technologies. We, as digitally active consumers have openly and eagerly embraced the Internet, telecom, media, and social space; changing the way we communicate, transact and make purchase decisions. We have become impatient. We choose when, where and how to interact with brands, and in our purchasing journey we seamlessly move between online and offline touch points.
As consumers, we want what we want, when we want it. We want everything instantly and we want it personalized. We don’t want to go to the bank. We want the bank to come to us and provide convenience through mobile banking. We don’t want to stand in line to purchase movie tickets. We want an easy ticketing app that helps us find and buy movie tickets to the movie of our choice, at the right theatre and at the right time. We don’t want to pick up the phone to order a pizza. We want a fast, online ordering with just one touch on our Smartphones to place our custom pizza order for immediate delivery.
Today, we expect nothing less from retailers and consumer goods (CG) organizations. We want the best prices, anytime-anywhere delivery and a seamless multi-channel experience across our shopping journey. The liquid trend is driving widespread digitization of businesses. However, here’s a word of caution: retailers and CG organizations who think they can get away by simply automating their existing customer-facing processes are mistaken; they need to simultaneously reconfigure and digitize their operations and business models. Businesses that embrace digital transformation will be able to spot the opportunities and act in matter of seconds and companies that fail to adopt new digital technologies will face competitive obsolescence.
While it is clear that mainstream digital transformation helps organizations, how urgent is the need to go digital? A Gartner study called CEO Concerns 2014: Business Gets Digital stated that 6% of businesses across industries had a Chief Digital Officer (CDO) in 2012. By 2014 that number had grown to a significant 19%. And of the total CDOs, says another Gartner study called Inside the Mind of the CIO: The 2014 Agenda, 9% will be in retail. That provides a sharp direction of where retail and CG industries are headed. The fact is that 38% of CEOs believe they will invest in digital marketing over the next five years.
While we understand that the need to go digital has clearly become a mandate for organizations today, how do we go about with digitization? The first stage towards digitization begins with capturing and acquiring data on how and where your customers are interacting with your brand, and sharing the available data across the enterprise, when needed. In addition to that, organizations must build a digital strategy that focuses on multi-channel digital marketing and selling, digital initiatives that sharpen customer intimacy, digitizing the end-to-end value chain and supporting new business models.
The organization’s digital strategy should be led by an internal cross-functional center-of-excellence that allows the organization to stitch its digital strategy across the fabric of the enterprise and the entire customer journey. This is not to say that a massive investment in IT is required to produce returns at the end of a long implementation cycle. Rather, smart organizations are setting their digital agendas and handing over the implementation to partners who can bring flexibility to the implementation. This way, retail and CG organizations begin to see quick returns on their investments, incrementally acquire assets and resources that support future business models and adequate latitude to adapt to emerging channels and evolving consumer behaviors, preferences and expectations.
Where is your organization in its digital journey, and where does it hope to go? Share your views with us.