Everything You Know About Digital Is Wrong: Here’s How to Fix It



Businesses have spent trillions on digital development over the last few years. The common wisdom is digital is the new analog, we need to optimize our digital presence, and throwing money at Web developers and fancy retail technology is the recipe for success in today’s market. And digital is important: sustained ecommerce growth over the last decade suggests digital will only grow over time, with one eMarketer study projecting ecommerce sales to exceed $4 trillion by 2020.

But if digital is so important, and businesses are investing money to the tune of trillions to optimize their digital experience, then why does the latest digital study by Kony find only 19% of consumers report significant improvement in their online retail experience?

We can look to the study itself for answers. The review of 800 businesses and 800 consumers found only 28% of digital development was customer experience-centered, while 72% was oriented around business process or employee experience.

Reality’s CEO Craig Martin often says, “Technology done well is transparent.” Essentially, consumers enjoy the experience regardless of the technology.

This is a big mistake. Customers are looking for a streamlined and enjoyable shopping experience, with 62% of them saying they would be more likely to spend if their digital experience “felt effortless.” In fact, the report concluded that leading companies have “agile, customer-focused organizations which recognize digital transformation is a cultural change, not just a technological change.” Meanwhile, the companies which fell behind were focused more on Internal operations than on customer experience.

So, what can you do to make sure your digital is drawing in customers rather than burning your wallet?  The survey authors have some suggestions:

Think Customer-First:  Often business objectives may be in tension with what consumers will embrace. This may sound cliché, but focus on the customer journey and technology will become clear. Always bias toward the customer to ensure success. This is why visioning sessions, design thinking, and customer journey mapping are part of nearly every program in which we engage.

Think Cross-Functional: “The majority of digital transformation initiatives follow a coordinated, siloed approach, where individual departments lead specific projects with central funding support. Digital leaders are more likely to have a centrally funded, strategically managed digital transformation initiative, a consistent and enterprise-wide strategy, executive buy-in and commitment to change drive success.”  Projects will succeed or fail based on the participation and input of the key stakeholders within the organization. This includes not only from a corporate level but all the way down to the operators of individual store locations. We advise not to do it alone. 

Think Prioritization: We hear a lot about “transformation,” which can be daunting to consider. If time and resources are a challenge, start with smaller “transitional” changes which roll up into a strategic vision. Think carefully about how and where spending is being prioritized. 

Think Innovative: “Digital transformation leaders look to the market and their potential customers to guide their next investment priorities. They focus on building a culture and technology infrastructure to support the future as much as enhancing current business process. Digital transformation leaders are always looking for what is around the next corner, not just at the challenges of today.” Many leaders become inspired at shows like CES, but we caution not to get lost in the leading-edge and all that these technologies promise but stay away from untested Bleeding edge. This way you won’t find your projects will be over budget and delayed. 

Our Takeaway

Digital isn’t simply about the technology–it’s about providing better experiences. Does is save me time, money, or improve my life? If not, then it is technology for technology’s sake.  

We believe it’s important to focus on the customer experience. While we may use technology to design the right experience, we aren’t led by it. We know through experience this leads to the best outcome for the retailer and the consumer.

Download our Digital Transformation Whitepaper