Following the outbreak of the Corona virus, organizations survived – and even thrived – thanks to their digital capabilities. Now, in order to maintain a competitive advantage, you need to continue on to the next stage of your digital evolution. Here are four tips to follow to become an advanced digital organization.
The Corona crisis has created a new economic law of survival – ‘Digital Darwinism’. Organizations that have survived are those that have the ability to evolve digitally, and adapt to the changing environment, in particular to the changing needs of their customers. The results speak for themselves: a 200% increase in online sales, a 10-year acceleration in eCommerce achieved in just 30 days (STKI, 2021), and organizations with digital product growth of over 55%.
Today, a year and a half after Corona first hit, most organizations already have more than one digital asset. In order to maintain a competitive advantage, you need to move on to the next stage of evolution. But how?
Why is a digital facelift not enough? How do you ensure that your apps are not limited to a single public cloud? When should you invest in digital assets? And how do you turn a new digital product into a success story? These four tips will help you unravel the answers to all these questions, and more.
1) Have you had a digital facelift? Excellent! But don’t forget to apply the digital treatment to the other links in your supply chain, otherwise the customer experience will not be complete.
In the first six months following the Corona outbreak, there was a great temptation to roll out half-baked digital solutions. Time to market was the most important value, and often it came at the expense of the customer experience. Organizations that had to close their physical channels were quick to develop lovely-looking digital forms so that they could provide an instant response to customer inquiries. And the customers, for their part, came in their droves. But, in the absence of a supportive automation system to provide backup, the masses of digital referrals placed a huge burden on organizations’ employees, who were not always able to withstand the flood of forms, resulting in angry customers.
The following scenario illustrates the point further. Today we can deposit checks digitally, something that was previously done only manually. But, imagine if the bank decided to leave the whole behind-the-scenes check-depositing process as it is: once the bank has received the digital image of the check, they print it out on paper, and then we still have to wait for the human banker to manually deposit them in our account the next day. So, in stark contrast to the quick experience of the deposit, customers are forced to wait a long time for the check to actually appear in their bank account.
If this sounds ridiculous to you, then perhaps you’re beginning to understand the great importance of addressing the entire ‘supply chain’. A complete digital transformation touches much more than just the ‘digital’ element. It requires modernization of all the links in the chain, down to the core systems and back up again. Today, there are solutions for organizations that shorten back-office processes. For example, advanced hyper-automation tools, such as RPA, enable fast automation or rapid integration of connections between systems, helping us to achieve the required results faster. So, we get an optimization that saves significantly on costs, and as a bonus, create an improved experience for our customers, which leads to greater customer loyalty.
2) Have you decided to develop a cloud application, but don’t want to limit yourself to one provider? Use cloud agnostic architecture that will enable you to operate on any public cloud, with minimal changes.
Today, it’s pretty much a no-brainer that mobile application development must address both iPhones and Android – after all, we want to reach the widest circle of customers, and avoid being limited to the products of one company. At the same time, there is no reason for us to confine our organization to a single public cloud, whether Microsoft, Google or Amazon – unless you are an organization whose entire operations are conducted through the products of one company.
If this is not the case, and you want to preserve your freedom of action, I have good news for you. Cloud agnostic architecture enables you to switch between different cloud environments, and operate on any public cloud provider, with minimum changes.
Agnostic architecture has many advantages: it enables our organization to maximize use of cloud services, take advantage of a wider basket of services, reduce costs and, as already mentioned, gives us a greater degree of freedom, without being dependent on a single provider.
3) Do you have one or more digital asset? If so, it’s important to formulate a digital asset strategy: is it worth merging and maintaining one key asset for the organization, or is it better to split it up into multiple assets?
Today, most organizations own more than one digital asset, and even if they do not, they frequently consider adding new products as they seek to deliver more value to customers, respond to their changing needs, and most importantly increase their presence in their lives. Often this means producing multiple applications, aimed at different users. On the other hand, it’s not always easy to manage a large number of apps, and if they are not maintained on a regular basis, they become outdated applications that have lost their relevance to customers. We therefore need to apply a principle of creating minimum assets with maximum value – for us and our customers. Here are some guiding considerations that will help you make the right decision.
If we want to provide our customers with a good user experience, we usually choose to create multiple assets – mobile apps have a hard time containing many features while still maintaining a successful user experience, and users will always prefer apps that have a clean and easy-to-use interface.
Another consideration that supports having multiple apps concerns target audiences. If we have multiple target audiences, it is usually advisable to target specific digital assets for each one. That way, we can adapt the app environment to suit the target audience in terms of language, content, accessibility, etc.
The issue of branding and differentiation will also often support the choice of multiple applications, as splitting apps can empower the brand and enhance its presence in the digital arena. Take for example Facebook Messenger, which has become a separate app thereby becoming a brand in its own right. Just be sure that splitting your digital assets into multiple apps is justified in terms of the product itself, and a clear value to the end customers.
Another benefit of multiple apps is that targeted apps are faster and easier to update than one major application whose update needs to take into account existing architecture and navigation. On the other hand, development and maintenance costs increase with multiple apps – an organization that owns a large number of digital assets invests more in their development and maintenance.
Keep in mind that, at the end of the day, our digital assets are there to serve our customers, give them value and generate brand loyalty. Multiple applications can produce an experience that is more focused and tailored to the customer’s needs, but at the same time, excessive multiplicity of applications and jumps between them can cause confusion and a broken experience on the customer side.
4) Do you have an idea for a new product that will be added to your digital assets? Great! But, if you want your new product to be a success, you should start with in-depth customer research and MVP (Minimum Viable Product) planning
We know that not every digital product that goes on the market launches well, and sometimes the failures really resonate. There are many reasons for this: customer misunderstandings, management problems, incorrect budgeting and more. Not everything is under our control, but there are two things that are, and getting them right can hugely improve the chances of the product succeeding.
The first is to really get to know your customer. “Yes, we’re doing research, and have even plotted the customer journey,” you probably say. But I mean a really in-depth acquaintance. For instance, take this example from the field of digital health. If you want to develop a product for elderly patients, you need a deep understanding of the whole process that the patient has gone through – when they discovered the disease, how long the treatment lasts, etc., and more: Are they actually the final consumer of your product? Perhaps it’s actually a family member who is caring for the elderly patient that will be using it. If your product does not address all those involved in the process, it will not work. It’s also important to understand your customers’ fears. An older patient, for example, is often afraid of forgetting things, so it’s important to incorporate multiple alerts into the product. In short, the first step in the process is to get to know your customers as well as you possibly can.
The second step is to design the MVP. This can be thought of as the minimum number of features your product needs to go on the market. Commonly used by startups, the MVP methodology has many advantages. Among other things, it enables us to develop products in a more economical way, gives us flexibility in the product development process, and allows us to release a product to the market more quickly.
How do you approach MVP planning? First, write a list of features, and give each of them a score in the importance index: what is the value to the customer, what is the value to you, how much will you earn from it, etc. The second index is the complexity index: how complex is it to develop a given feature, how much will it cost you, how easy is it to assimilate into the market, etc. Assess the features against the background of these two variables, and those that are the easiest to make and provide the most value are the ones you should incorporate into the initial version of your product. Then you can move on to agile design sprints according to roles. That’s how to build your entire MVP plan. If you follow this process, all the in-depth investigation and pre-planning that it entails will significantly increase your product’s chances of success.
Corona gave organizations a great push to get started on their digital journey – it was an absolute necessity in order to continue operating in the face of social distancing, lockdowns and other restrictions. While the initial urgency has since worn off, now is the time to build on what you have achieved, moving to the next level and ensuring the prosperity of your business into the future.