All too often, talks about digital transformation relate to companies that have been digital from the beginning, Spark New Zealand\u2019s Lena Jenkins observes.\n\u201cWhat we don\u2019t often hear about as much is transforming a business that has been around for a long, long time,\u201d said the customer transformation delivery manager.\nSo how does one take a traditional legacy company resistant to change, albeit in the business of technology, and turn it digital?\nIt is a question Spark New Zealand sought to answer as it embarked on a programme to transition from a traditional telecommunications company to a digitally enabled business focused on customers, Jenkins told attendees at the CIO-CMO Exchange in Auckland.\nJenkins is in the midst of this ongoing shift at the company that started at the New Zealand Post, before spinning off as Telecom NZ and on to its current state. \nShe leads Spark NZ\u2019s digitisation portfolio, established to transform digital customer experience. Jenkins also heads the software delivery team working with Spark\u2019s other brands, such as Skinny and Bigpipe, to deliver digital customer experiences. \nSpark customers historically used landline, voice and text. When mobile Internet and data usage started growing, they wanted a lot more value, more calls and data \u201cbut did not want to pay a lot for it\u201d, Jenkins said.\n\u201cLike all telcos, we had the challenge of declining revenues but growing customer expectations,\u201d she said. \u201cWe needed a different a way of working and a different digital estate.\u201d \nWhat Spark did not want was to replicate the current state with new siloed technologies or approaches. To adapt, Jenkins said the traditionally separate domains of IT, marketing, sales and customer services have to work together more than ever before to deliver against modern customer expectations.\nSpark\u2019s goal was to create a seamless experience between sales, service and the help desk.The core concept was that the customer could self-service, accessing help and buying within one application personalised to their needs.\n\u201cBeing a telco is not all about selling. Once we get the customers, there is a whole lot of work we need to do, it is an ongoing service,\u201d Jenkins pointed out.\u201cOne of our challenges was finding a digital ecosystem that blended sales and services together.\u201d\nThe first step was to \u201cfix the hard problems\u201d and put the right foundation systems in place, Jenkins said. This meant uniting disparate systems contributing to disjointed customer experiences. \nSpark consolidated its CRM system, integration layer and seven different websites to create its new digital ecosystem. As part of this shake-up, the telco chose SAP\u2019s e-commerce system, Hybris, and brought in Adobe\u2019s CMS platform.\nThe next phase was setting the foundation for personalisation - a must, Jenkins said, but one technology alone can\u2019t solve alone. \nNo caption\nDigital transformation is a complex mission, but worth it.Lena Jenkins, Spark NZ\n\u201cThe people change is the hard part,\u201d she said. \u201cWe were very siloed way back when we used to be a bigger business. This was before the GFC, and the business had a lot of cash. People had pet projects and built lots of things. So we ended up with lots of duplication.\u201d\nToday, Spark operates \u2018one virtual digital team\u2019.\nKey to making this shift has been an Agile transformation of the Spark workplace. Squads are being formed and will be responsible for end-to-end planning, implementation and delivery of programmes.\nWork streams are also cross-functional, with members not necessarily reporting into the same place but sharing a common goal.\n\u201cThere is no more \u2018this is the marketing team, or this is the sales team\u2019,\u201d Jenkins said. \nIn addition, implementing an integrated digital platform drove the team to align their ways of working. \n\u201cImplementing one thing, for instance, might impact what someone else was doing and you end up with a broken experience for customers,\u201d Jenkins said.\nAlready, the Spark team has delivered one of the biggest IT releases in the company\u2019s history. But importantly, it\u2019s also significantly improved the customer experience.\nFor example, Spark customers have an online store where they can purchase mobile and broadband in the same order. Ninety per cent of these functions can be fulfilled automatically. The telco\u2019s smartphone application has also been downloaded over a million times. \nWhat\u2019s more, the team can gather data from customer interactions. \u201cWe can measure the performance of our digital channel, test and optimise the experience for customers,\u201d Jenkins said.\n\u201cWe realised digitisation is about how customers experience automation. So we made sure we created an experience toolkit so we have consistencies across the channels.\u201d\nData and analytics are a big part of delivering personalisation, Jenkins added. \u201cYou can\u2019t just build something and expect customers to love it. You have to look at how it is performing.\u201d \nJenkins further shared notes from Spark\u2019s playbook for digital transformation. \nFirst is the importance of sharing the vision. \n\u201cHave conversations over and over again with peoplehellip; Make sure everyone understands what your digital vision means,\u201d she advised. \u201cYou have to keep people engaged. You can\u2019t design by committee, but people want to feel involved in the decisions.\u201d\nThe rate of change is so fast, incremental change is a lot more important than big build efforts, Jenkins said.\n\u201cGet clear on where you want to be, set a vision for the future. You just can\u2019t replicate the current state,\u201d she said.\nIt\u2019s also vital to be clear on where you are now. Questions to ask include: Where is your customer data? Which people and third partners are involved? What is your internal capability?\nThen create a roadmap that\u2019s directional but not set in stone. \u201cThings change fast, so have flexibility,\u201d Jenkins said.\nAnd spend the time creating the optimised business model to support it. \u201cYou can\u2019t just implement a new technology, you have to have a way to support the customers on this,\u201d she said. \nDon\u2019t forget to share your learnings either, good and bad. \u201cIn the past, we were good at building new things but not so good at telling customers about it,\u201d Jenkins said. \n\u201cSo we have a decided to focus on making sure customers know that there is a new digital experience, how important this is, and encourage them to use it.\u201d\nIn summary, Jenkins said digital transformation is a complex mission, but one that\u2019s worth it.\n\u201cDo not underestimate the effort to get there. It is not always done with technology. That is the smallest part, the people, process and organisational change is the harder one,\u201d she concluded. \n\u201cDon\u2019t give up, be courageous to achieve those outcomes.\u201d\nAt the 2018 CIO-CMO Exchange in Auckland\nGet the latest on digital transformation: Sign up for CIO newsletters for regular updates on CIO news, career tips, views and events. Follow CIO New Zealand on Twitter:@cio_nz Join us on Facebook.