Choosing the right partner for your business's digital transformation

CEOs today are looking for partners who can act as enablers in this journey--who will help thrive, not just survive, the modern, digital world

Updated: Mar 26, 2019 06:19:37 PM UTC

Teresa Barreira is the Chief Marketing Officer at Publicis Sapient.

Image: Shutterstock
Image: Shutterstock

What began as a chorus of top creative, technology, strategy, and communications firms proclaiming their authority in digital transformation a few years ago, has now turned into a deafening cacophony. While the market has been abuzz with this phenomenon for quite some time, most brands are just waking up to its full potential. However, companies must remember that transformation is not just about driving efficiency or reducing operating costs. It’s more about driving customer value and unlocking the sources of that value.

In an age where incremental increase is no longer sufficient, I feel there’s an urgent need for organisations to create exponential value. CEOs today are looking for partners who can act as enablers in this journey of transformation. Ones who can help them thrive, not just survive, in this modern, digital world.

That brings us to the obvious question: What do organisations need to look for in a digital business transformation (DBT) partner?

1. Build an agile culture
Today, most decision makers evaluate capabilities and skills, casting just a cursory glance at the organisational culture of their DBT partner. I strongly feel that the culture of a company is driven by its purpose, values and its way of working. Therefore, to spearhead a DBT journey, it’s important for an organisation to have an agile and creative mindset. A deep-rooted culture that fosters bravery, experimentation, and, most importantly, agility, can be a real game-changer.

2. Look for the 'how'
If you look around, you’ll find that most companies today view DBT through a tech-first, creative-first or consulting-first lens. However, I believe that a true transformation journey entails a view of both the consumer and the company. An enabling partner should bring a holistic approach to transformation, by bringing together diverse capabilities of strategy, design, experience and engineering. Many organisations struggle to build an inclusive environment where all disciplines work harmoniously to create exponential value and growth. This is the hardest part, the 'how' of the transformation is where most companies falter. But this is what separates the companies that thrive from the ones that barely survive. This is a key attribute you should look out for in your partner.

3. Create a digital-first approach
Despite the huge investments in DBT, a vast majority of companies are still learning ‘digital’ on the job, the trial-and-error way. For them, it continues to be a mere ‘add-on’ strategy where they keep adding new digital technology to their existing businesses. If you notice all the companies thriving today--Google, Netflix and Airbnbs of the world–they have digital at their core. They do not view digital as a channel or an addition to their core business. Similarly, partners that can help organisations transform are the ones that are digitally native and aren’t scrambling to add it to their core capabilities. I think the biggest advantage a digital-first organisation can have is an understanding of how to build a business for an always-on consumer.

4. Obsess over customer experience
The reason I say customer obsession versus customer centricity is because today’s connected customers demand experiences that satisfy their individual and personal needs. And all this at a place and time, and on a device of their choice. Therefore, an organisation must design its products and services with the customer at the center to be able to deliver hyper-personalised experiences. Imagine a customer experience journey that starts from outside-in rather than inside-out. Now, that can work wonders in terms of ensuring customer satisfaction. Here’s a word of advice: Go for a partner that’s fanatical about customer experiences. That’s the one that can help your organisation reimagine the future from the eyes of your customer.

Let’s face it: There’s no one-size-fits-all formula to identify an ideal DBT partner. Just like the way there’s no common path to DBT. However, going by my own experience, every digital transformation journey invariably involves breaking new ground and disrupting existing business models. Therefore, organisations seeking out an ideal DBT partner should look for the one that’s breaking categories. Not the one that’s just a creative, or a technology or a consulting organisation, but an organisation that looks at the problem statement of DBT, armed with unified capabilities.

The author is Chief Marketing Officer at Publicis Sapient.

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