Digital Mandates for Generating Growth and Innovation
- January 19, 2022
If the past two years have taught us anything, it’s to be prepared for everything. From health crises, supply chain disruption and fluctuating consumer demand to marshaling a largely remote workforce, expectations remain high for ongoing disruption. Likewise, businesses and governments need to shoulder the demands of disorder without impeding growth and innovation. With a new calendar year in mind and a new report from our annual Innovation Index at hand, I asked some of our experts to weigh in on how leaders can bolster resilience and plan for growth in the unpredictable year ahead. Their responses reflect a keen understanding of what the future holds.
Responses to our Innovation Index rated increasing customer satisfaction as the top priority for the next two years, even higher than improving financial performance. What do organizations need to do differently in the pursuit of improving customer satisfaction?
Lisa Woodley, VP, Customer Experience and Experience Design: One of the most significant shifts of the pandemic occurred when organizations realized that digital experiences were required for all, not just millennials, Gen Z and younger generations. The pandemic proved our grandparents could get online for telehealth visits, ordering food and grocery deliveries, and even navigating streaming services. So now, everyone expects customized — and more personalized — experiences, and organizations need to step up to design data-driven digital experiences for all, not just the digital-savvy.
One-to-many experiences will need to be made to feel personal to enable this at scale. Consumers expect and prefer to do business with companies that understand their likes, dislikes and share their values. Like any relationship, you need to empathize, understand and anticipate your customers’ needs. And while technology is a tool to help enhance your relationships, technology alone is not a silver bullet to improve lousy customer experiences. Instead, leading with a clear understanding of your customer’s needs will provide the basis for correcting those less-than-impactful experiences.
Organizations will need to dig deep and truly connect with their customers and constituents, empathize with them, walk the talk, and then adopt the right CRM, AI and virtual assistant technologies to deliver the hyper-personalized experiences we have all come to expect.
A surprising 57% of the executives we surveyed said customer wants and needs are changing too quickly to provide the high-quality experiences that are the cornerstone of customer loyalty. What steps are leaders taking to stay ahead of these ever-changing consumer trends?
Shamlan Siddiqi, VP, Data Advisory and Transformation: Knowing your customer has never been more critical. Because data serves as the foundation for delivering hyper-personalized digital experiences, organizations must double down on enabling actionable data and AI.
However, data is noise if you can’t use it in real-time to understand and quickly deliver on your customer’s motivations and needs. To improve customer lifetime value, organizations are accelerating the pace of turning data into knowledge and knowledge into action through scalable solutions, such as conversational AI.
Until recently, digital natives have primarily been leading the way in using data to draw customer insight, but the next two years will see larger commercial and government organizations getting better at harnessing their data too. And as much as technology is a critical enabler, perhaps even more so is having the right people and partners in place to actualize the wealth of available information.
Organizations will have to move as quickly to focus on their culture and talent as they do in pulling together plans around data sharing, quality, management, data access and ownership.
Our survey showed that organizations struggle to share data with external partners and keep up with changing data regulations when it comes to data best practices. What’s the significance, and how can organizations work to secure growth in the years ahead?
Greg Betz, SVP, Digital Offerings and Automation: Although many organizations still operate in segments encumbered with siloed data, being able to access and act on your discrete, corporate data is quickly becoming table-stakes in a world where those who can make quick use of the most data usually win.
Leaders are focusing on the combination of internal data sets and the data available in the cloud. It’s becoming increasingly important to use the data of your business partners, suppliers, and ecosystem effectively. The cloud serves as a catalyst to quickly build relationships and competitive partnerships that historically didn’t exist. And your data, along with its accuracy and ability to be shared safely and securely, could be the ultimate deciding factor in your organization’s value in future market alliances.
Everyone should be deciding their organization’s role in the digital ecosystem — either as a consumer or provider or both — and start taking the necessary steps toward that goal.
Finally, when asked about innovation, 56% of those surveyed said their organization’s strategic planning is increasingly long-term, but only 42% felt their culture supports innovation efforts. How can leaders foster a culture of innovation?
Eric Clark, Chief Digital and Strategy Officer: Enabling innovation in many ways comes down to the basics of your people, processes and systems. It’s your employees who will have the most significant long-term impact on success. Leaders need to provide flexible work environments that support and reward continuous learning, teamwork and individual risk-taking, all in the pursuit of helping their clients thrive and grow.
In terms of processes, agile and iterative win hands down. Similarly, organizations need to focus on cloud-based technologies first to eliminate silos, enable composable analytics and customer-centricity. There’s a lot to balance between addressing continual disruptions and planning for 6 to 36 months.
As the gap between those able to quickly innovate and execute continues to grow, organizations recognize that sustainable success increasingly lies in the hands of their customers and the team members who support them.
After speaking with my colleagues, it’s evident that preparing for constant change will prove more valuable than bracing for impact. Taking a deeper look into what our leaders have gleaned from what hundreds of business leaders have to say about these topics has provided valuable insight into what’s next.
I remain optimistic about the future when I read our Innovation Index. I’m anxious to see what insight next year’s report offers our clients, as our Innovation Index is a report we plan to continue on an annual basis.