Powering your digital journey to reality

Enterprises are under pressure to digitise their core business services to stay competitive. This often starts with rethinking their existing processes and the experience they provide to customers, and ends with them completely re-engineering core applications and underlying IT infrastructure.

Companies that are succeeding in doing these things have a clear digital strategy and work towards a well-defined implementation roadmap.

IT chiefs gathered for lunch events in Sydney and Melbourne recently to discuss their approaches to creating and encouraging the adoption of digital services across their organisations. The events were sponsored by HCL Technologies.

Kunal Purohit, vice president at HCL Technologies, says enterprises are adopting a two-pronged approach to leveraging digital technologies. On one hand, they are deploying the cloud to drive efficiencies and flexibility while on the other, they are decoupling customer platforms from these cloud-enabled core systems, he says.

HCL's Purohit: Small teams can work wonders by delivering on a quick win project and gaining management’s confidence

“Decoupling allows enterprises to think ‘customer-first’ and implement a micro services-led digital architecture. And this change doesn’t have to be a big change overnight. A small team of five to six people representing business and IT teams can work wonders by delivering on a quick win project and gaining management’s confidence,” he says.

Purohit says most organisations are now seeing increasing collaboration between business and IT to deliver innovation using digital and data analytics. And they are looking at hiring resources that not only have expertise in one area of importance but can collaborate with the broader organisation.

Companies view digital differently

Glen Goodman, head of business systems data quality, at ANZ’s wholesale lending division, says that the definition of ‘digital’ across different market sectors is still subject to wide interpretation. But there is no doubt that the digital experience of the customer is critical to the bank’s future plans,’ he says.

“How customers interact with banks and their expectations based on other dealings with non-banks can lead to higher levels of frustration if we get it wrong,” he says.

“Recent executive appointments [at ANZ] and reviews around operating models reflect the focus given to getting digital right. What we do with the data and how it is managed across the various functional areas and applications beyond the initial experience is still an enormous challenge, but I’m not sure I would call that ‘digital,’ he says.

For Rajdeep Singh, business solutions director at Serco Citizen Services, digital transformation is a very broad term and applies differently to every industry and vertical market. Serco’s digital transformation objective is to simplify complex work, Singh says.

“Our citizen services business unit is focused on business process outsourcing and contact centre workloads. We are leading key digital transformation projects around robotic process automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, as well as leveraging IoT and big data principals,” he says.

Serco's Singh: Digital transformation is a continuous improvement lifecycle

“Digital transformation is a continuous improvement lifecycle and our approach is to operate short sprint digital transformation programs providing quick and small but measurable benefits. [Our program] is continually evolving and is predominantly focused on improving customer experience and operational efficiency, relying heavily on integrated change management and communications strategies.”

Chris Rathborne, group manager, technology marketing at Insurance House, says that although his organisation has been doing digital for a few years, “it’s always as though the path has just started.”

He says this is common across many organisations as the digital landscape is changing at such a fast pace with new technology and business models emerging.

“Our ‘InsureTech’ hubs have really only just started to make ground which is exciting and the transformation of insurance businesses will come at a faster pace when AI starts to play a role. Deeper analytics also will inform more decisions for both the consumer and the business and new development practices are converging around DevOps and Agile.

“It’s that point of convergence which is what digital is about to our organisation where all these tools and practices can be used to find ways to engage customers,” he says.

Insurance House's Rathborne: The transformation of insurance businesses will come at a faster pace when AI starts to play a role

Stephen Haddad, head of technology at Southern Cross Austereo, says his organisation views digital in two categories: digital product for consumers (websites and apps etc), and digital for operational efficiency.

“For radio, which is the core of what we do in digital, we host, maintain and develop 12 websites and 15 apps. These host all our radio streams and serve more than 1.5 million individuals with an average of 446,000 daily visitors,” he says.

“On the ‘digital for operational efficiency’ side, we are in progress with a number of transactions including an Office 365 rollout of Service Now. With regards to our radio business, we have move to a digital playout system called ‘Zetta’, which has been a large and complex digital transformation.”

For the supply chain and logistics sector, digital innovation is about becoming more agile and responsive, says Charlie Macdonald, CIO at Schenker Australia.

Supply chains are having to transform from the typical business-to-business services to support both the organisation and emerging consumer demands, he says.

“This means we need to be able to support our customers becoming much more adaptive and personalised in their services,” he says.

Lessons learned, measurements adjusted

The most important lesson enterprises are learning during their digital projects is how to manage change, says HCL’s Purohit. Organisations are used to working in a traditional way – whether it’s a business model, service design, or the way employees generate output for the company, he says.

“When going through a digital transformation project, these organisations have to think differently and hence, change management becomes very critical. A big driver for this change is bringing the culture of ‘customer-centricity’ in designing and delivering digital projects.’

“Key performing indicators (KPIs) move from being based on project [success or failure] to being based on the creation and measurement of business outcomes like an increase in net promoter score or cross-sell index,” he says.

“This doesn’t need to happen overnight. For example, teams could work towards KPIs being based on ‘output’ in the first phase. This means that teams will measure the success of a program based on things like increased traffic on a website or higher adoption of a mobile app. Once this process matures, they could look at phase 2 where they start to measure revenue impacts,” he says.

Insurance House’s Rathborne says ‘classic’ measurements include revenue, improved engagement volumes, and channel shift. These are widely understood and accepted by the business, technology and marketing staff, he says.

“Spend tends to grow as more activities are added, new developments and changes to systems and these are done with the expectation of increased volumes,” he says.

Ian Lisle, CIO at GE adds that traditional business metrics are still important but only tell part of the story. Softer metrics like employee engagement and behavioural change are also critical success factors.

“On example of a new way we measure the impact of a digital initiative is to look at the number of users on the current version of an app as a percentage of the total installations because when people see the benefit of a tool, they invest in keeping it up to date,” Lisle says.

Primo Smallgoods initially measures the success or failure of its external and internal digital projects by looking at adoption, says the company’s digital and social media manager, Renaud Frise.

“If after a long and costly deployment, adoption is low, then that’s a failure and we go back to the drawing board to find out what happened and how we can learn from it. We will then decide if the next step is to stop a program.”

“We are also trying to predict resistance to change before we start a program. It helps us remove barriers and adjust timeframes before stakeholders ‘buy-in’ to the concept,” he says.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

6 digital transformation success stories