When speaking about digital transformation trends for 2019, the good news is that all the buzzwords seem to be the same as last year. Moreover, the year holds a promise that rather than buzzwords they evolve into something very real and concrete.
The bad news is that, while 89% of executives say digitization will disrupt their businesses this year, less than one-third of these executives believe that their digital strategies are correct or up-to-date. With these alarming statistics in mind, we will list the essential building blocks for digital transformation in order to inspire the companies to work on the right road map to drive success in 2019.
1. CRM (Customer Relationship Management)
Improving customer experience delivers real benefits to companies that successfully execute customer-centric strategies. Holistic customer profiles that integrate transactional, CRM, and third-party data and that combine both offline and online customer information using identity resolution tools are at the core of every successful digital transformation.
What most companies lack on this front is not the technology component, as CRM software vendors provide them with the tools, like artificial intelligence (AI) and those for process automation. The real struggle is to decide on what information really needs to be collected and to keep these profiles clean and useful over time.
2. Advanced Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Data-driven decision making is at the heart of every intelligent organization on the road of digital transformation. Successful companies leverage data to achieve insights and model customer behaviors for more effective marketing campaigns. Holistic customer profiles mentioned in the previous point are also a crucial resource for data-mining customer insight.
AI, in turn, has the potential to advance the current pace of digital transformation by making machines smarter and technology’s interaction with humans, more transparent and explainable. Companies could take advantage of AI to boost innovation, define marketing and sales strategies, deliver exceptional services, hire the best candidates, keep the top employees happy etc.
We might also want to add that the data-driven organizations of today have better understood the importance, impact and potential of the data. As a result, in the future, they will be better positioned to continue improving their processing power with the help of machine learning.
3. Emerging Technologies
Keeping one’s finger on the pulse of new technologies is vital in order to keep up with digital transformation. The list of budding technologies is long and growing all the time, ranging from mobile apps, identity resolution, virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR), AI and machine learning, personalized digital videos, digital portals, wearables, addressable TV to the Internet of Things and blockchain.
These digital technologies provide for all enterprises new ways to capture customer knowledge and insight and enhance data integration and dissemination across channels. Companies will have it easier to digitally connect and collaborate with customers, create better products and services, help shorten the sale cycle, drive down operational costs, and stay one step ahead of the competition.
It is foreseen that, for example, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are on the rise in 2019, and that especially the development of AR will ramp up. These technologies are expected to find use in employee training, conversational platforms, and maintenance and repairing of machinery across industries.
Blockchain is another fast-rising technology of the hour. Though fintech is probably the most obvious application area for blockchain, other applications that go beyond cryptocurrency – i.e in the transportation of goods and services – have also taken advantage of this decentralized and distributed online ledger system.
4. Social Media Communities and Customer Engagement
Nowadays more and more customers expect to receive customer support 24/7. Social media communities are a great tool to address these requirements by helping to maintain and increase the right kind of customer engagement and interaction that results in customer acquisition and retention. It could be said that these communities are a company’s best lead nurturing tool.
When it comes to customer engagement, companies should start seriously to work on their cross-channel customer journey mapping and omnichannel management. Effective customer engagement shortens sales cycles, increases customer spending, lowers customer churn, increases brand awareness, and secures higher customer loyalty and advocacy. Videos, content sharing, chatbots with conversational AI, and robotic process automation tools in their digital transformation efforts are the most common strategies used to achieve these benefits and to secure digital customer engagement.
5. Big Data and Data Value Management
When speaking about data in general, we must keep in mind that new data is produced daily on a massive scale. For example, 90% of the data that exists today has been produced in very recent years and less than 2% of that data is utilized. Therefore, the volume at which data is produced today and the insights underivable due to the absence of analytical tools application is rather baffling.
That is where Big Data and advanced analytical tools come into play, as they have permitted most companies to access and extract insights from wells of data. With insights drawn from existing data becoming the source of newer business and revenue models, it is expected that Data Value Management will be a pertinent boardroom conversation. We predict that 2019 will also be the year when Data Value Management sees major investments.
In conclusion, we might say that the focus of the digital transformation is on customer management and doing everything possible to deliver better customer experience. For that purpose, the companies have many emerging technologies at their disposal, but their main concern should be learning to make the most out of the data at their disposal.
Company’s digital transformation process should grow out of an integrated framework where individual projects connect and back each other. That would, for example, mean leveraging data and analytics as a foundational platform to analyze and provide insights used in CRM, social media communities and customer engagement; leveraging customer journey mapping and customer experience surveys to feed holistic customer profiles; leveraging emerging technologies like AI to provide next-best-action recommendations for individual clients, and so on.
Or in short, an effective digital transformation strategy brings together all the building blocks mentioned above and leans on a long-term road map that focuses as much on people and process issues as on technology.
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