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Leadership

Strategies, advice and opinions helping to define and develop the role of IT leaders and their staffs.

Digital Transformation: Creating Magic in Customer Experience

Magic does exist. 

And I’m not just talking about the Vegas style extravaganza and Cirque de Soleil masterpieces. I’m including all magic; from that black & white plastic rabbit picture trick from a birthday magician for hire; to the coordinated team-on-the-street hustling each of my $20 bills with 3-card Monte. It’s all magic. 

Here is what I know:

  • Random audience members do get cut in half with rotating power saws or pierced with steel swords and live to tell about it
  • It is possible to vanish the Statue of Liberty and teleport through the Great Wall of China
  • Mentalists can both read my mind and convince me to pick a certain card from the deck; oddly always the King of Hearts
  • One can completely change outfits a dozen times in 5 seconds
  • And I’m pretty sure that it is possible to pull a rabbit out of a hat.

It’s all real.

Because I know it’s real, I love to experience magic and I don’t want to know how it works; because I already know how it works, it’s magic.

Even though you would never admit it, you agree with me. Admit it. ADMIT IT! That’s what I thought.

I’m not going to let you off that easily though. We both know that we expect everything to be magic. We expect to not know the details of every interaction and every transaction. We want what we want when we want it… to heck HOW it’s done.   

You know who really understands that fact about us? Digital Disrupters, that’s who.

CEOs and Chief Digital Officers (CDOs) are evaluating the behaviours of the Digital Disruptors in their industry and evaluating the new interactions with their mutual customers. How are they gaining ground? How are they changing buying patterns? Why are these new experiences increasing closing rates? How is the engagement changing the overall customer satisfaction? And most importantly; how do I create these new experiences to substantially grow my business and keep delighting my customers?

 It’s magic, or more specifically, it’s digital transformation magic. 

Let’s appreciate the parallels to the magician’s tool kit:

  • Production (producing something from nothing): In media, the customer experience is all about producing amazing feats of visual magic; 1000s of person hours of human creativity combined to produce a 90 minute Netflix movie, consumable on a variety of devices, streamed seamlessly all over the world. The HOW doesn’t matter. 
  • Vanish (makes something disappear): In construction, the customer experience is a series of project management steps to wipe clean the current physical space and imagine something new. Construction engineering moves the discussion into a collaborative and electronic building process. Vanishing the physical structures currently present and building the floors in 3D architectural imaging and printing. The HOW doesn’t matter. 
  • Transformation (transform from one state into another): In manufacturing, raw material is combined to form a final product that was designed in electronic form. Imagine constructing a product by layering Lego blocks of various material, then adjusting materials and attributes online to find the perfect fit before a single widget is produced. The HOW doesn’t matter. 
  • >Restoration (destroys then restores an object): In government, the customer experience is often non-existent or poorly understood, lacking cross department collaboration. Communication is restored between departments by creating cross department services with a single citizen interface, and creating an innovative public/private services environment by delivering a programmatic means to combine public and private data. The HOW doesn’t matter.
  • Transportation (move from one place to another): In transportation, the customer experience is waiting at the bus stop for the next bus to arrive. The focus is on the start of the trip. Changing the experience from the start to the destination refocuses the customer on the various options available to get to the destination on time by alerting the passenger about better routes via text. The HOW doesn’t matter. 
  • Escapes (restrain and escape): In energy, the control of the cost of the product is in the hands of the producer. The customer experience is to use the energy and pay the bill. Escaping the handcuffs of control and creating a new transparency to energy pricing dramatically changes the customer experience. Per minute pricing and per minute utilization awareness allows the customer to change their usage habits. Alerts suggesting washing the clothes later, or a perfect time to cool down the house dramatically and positively changes the relationship customers will have with producers. The HOW doesn’t matter. 
  • Levitation (defying gravity): In telecommunications, the customer experience is product centric even though the service is data centric. Consumers likely don’t remember what specific rate or plan they chose, but they are worried about how much data is consumed watching a YouTube video. A new customer experience includes detailing the categorical usage of data.  For example, “You watch one video a day and listen to 2 hours of Internet radio. At this rate, you can last only 10 days on our current plan. Click here for options based on how you consume.”  The HOW doesn’t matter. 
  • Pass Through (pass through an object): In retail, the customer experience is a pass through, or a workflow of buying. Traditionally, that has meant creating an Omni-channel experience, where you can buy the same shoes for the same price online as you can in a retail outlet.  Unfortunately, the customer buying pattern is not Omni-channel; in-fact, the entire buying process is a pass through. Typically, the customer browses online and picks three shoes. They then visit their local store and try on all three, and ultimately choose just one. On their own, they decide to buy (or avoid to buy) in the store. A new customer experience embraces the buying experience by automatically pulling the three products off the shelf; making them ready for the customer to try on as they enter the store; offer the customer on their device the ability to pay now and bring home, or buy online and have them shipped home to arrive the same day. The HOW doesn’t matter. 
  • Prediction (predicting outcomes):  In financial services, education and healthcare, the customer experience depends on the individual professional supplying the service. Wealth managers, teachers, nurses and doctors provide their value directly to individual consumers. Enhancing the consistency and predictability of outcomes (market ups/downs, academic pass/fails, data-centric diagnosis) elevates and increases the likelihood of positive outcomes (wealthier, smarter, and healthier societies). The HOW doesn’t matter. 

Like I said, it’s all magic.

In the real world, however, digital transformation is not easy.  Anything that changes the interaction with customers, requires a team effort, changes to organizational processes, and a large amount of technological innovation.

We can’t create these new magical customer experiences by ourselves. We also need trusted partners and a solid digital transformation strategy.    

There are very few partners that understand the complexity of diverse industries, diverse applications, and diverse customers. We need to work together to create a new data strategy that links and evaluates information sources to create insights for operational process changes, creation of new business models, and innovating with new customer experiences.

I hope that you have come to appreciate the reality of digital transformation magic. Please feel free to use the examples I have provided as fodder for your innovation agenda.


Paul Lewis is the CTO of Hitachi Canada and an advisory board member with The IT Media Group. Hitachi focuses on enhancing Digital Transformation initiatives by combining innovative technology and a deep understanding of their customers’ business.

 

 

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ADP - VP Architecture & Infrastructure

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Agrium - Global Mgr., IT Security

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Aimia - SVP & Global CIO

Ainsworth Engineered - Director IT

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Bank of America Merrill Lynch - CTO

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Bellatrix Exploration - Director, Information Technology

Bentall Kennedy - VP IT

Black Press - CTO

BlackBerry - VP Corporate IT

BMO Financial Group - Head of Services Delivery

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Bonavista Petroleum - Head of IT

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Bow Valley College - Director, IT Services

Bridgewater Bank - Head of IT

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