Digital Transformation

The Challenges of Digital Transformation

April 28, 2021 | Written by Jake Miller

This article originally appeared on BetaNews.

The goal of digital transformation is to fundamentally change how B2B suppliers operate and deliver value to customers by creating a connected digital ecosystem. A change of this magnitude, however, is not without its challenges.

For one, in order to change a business’s value delivery model, the first step is understanding the value each customer is looking to receive—something that is easier said than done when there is no formal way to document and collaborate around goals and objectives.

For another, to digitally transform means a company has created a digital experience that seamlessly moves their customer through all phases of the customer lifecycle. One of the most misunderstood assumptions about digital transformation is that just because a company has a digital product, it has digitally transformed its customer experience. This is not the case for the vast majority of businesses.

The buying experience for most B2B customers, especially at the enterprise level, is characterized by a series of disconnected steps not supported by a digital experience. Worse still, nothing about using a digital product helps the customer navigate a supplier’s process or procedure they require from a customer. Most of the supplier’s customer processes are separate from the digital product, and the tools suppliers use to manage their customers are internal facing and offer little to no direct value to the customer.

And finally, there is data complexity to consider. Through digital transformation, virtually every product, physical or digital, has the potential to be instrumented as an endpoint. For many businesses, the volume, velocity and variety of data generated from these endpoints can be overwhelming and difficult to turn into actionable insights.

This is especially true when it comes to proof of value. Measurable outcomes are the only thing customers care about, yet most companies can’t prove they’re making an impact. Organizing the billions of interactions and data points generated from a complex B2B environment is extremely difficult but necessary in order to prove value delivery.

So how, you may ask, can you make digital transformation work in your favor?

Co-creating Value with Customers

To ensure value alignment, suppliers must work with their customers to define, document and collaborate around desired business outcomes. Trust in any business relationship comes from shared understanding and transparency that demonstrates that each party is aligned toward the achievement of mutual success.

Your customers’ desired outcomes are what give your partnership focus and purpose—and what your digital transformation should be built around.

Building a Connected Customer Experience

Instead of accepting a disconnected customer experience as the norm, consider an end-to-end digital experience that allows sales teams to collaborate with prospects to create success plans, streamlines the handoffs post sales to ensure other teams are aligned around the outcomes promised, and then instruments these outcomes to measure progress against the promise.

A company offering such an experience would stand out from the rest. This is what it means to compete on the basis of customer experience—which has become an imperative for any company to survive, let alone thrive.

Turning Data Into Actionable Insights

Digital transformation means that you can instrument any application, system, or digital endpoint as a data source. But for such a transformation to be impactful, you have to surface these insights, not just as data, but as indicators of health and progress of the relationship and proof of performance against target outcomes.

To do this successfully, a real-time data integration layer is needed that allows you to build performance metrics with inputs from multiple sources. It may seem difficult, but using data as a way to track and prove value delivery should be your ultimate goal when digitally transforming your business.

The age of digital transformation has heightened customer expectations, and even the most innovative organizations have trouble keeping up. It’s time for B2B suppliers to take control of their entire value stream—all by co-creating value; building a connected customer experience; and capturing, processing and contextualizing the billions of signals and events within their ecosystem.

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