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Time to change perspective: Digital Transformation

By November 19, 2020April 11th, 2022Insights

Digital transformation through the customer lens

Why is it that in 2019/20, 70% of all money spent on digital transformation was wasted? In real terms, that means of the £1.3trillion spent, £900b failed to achieve its stated objectives.
We are all racing to re-engineer our businesses digitally. This means many are charging face on without understanding what it is we are doing and trying to achieve. It is crucial that we slow down and learn how to optimise our investment in new technology.
Chris Garthwaite, CEO CGA, firmly believes that in many cases digital initiatives undertaken purely from the internal perspective and culture of the sector.
Too often digitisation is looked at as a fixed project. The KPIs are delivering benefits against existing sector measures. Instead, it should be looked at as a platform for change, requiring new measures of success. We must reflect on the outcomes customers are looking to achieve through digitisation.
Speaking at the 2020 Digital Manufacturing Week event recently, Chris explained:
“Whilst it is imperative to drive efficiency of production, it is also essential to look through the customer lens. By understanding the customer perspective, organisations can improve the opportunity for their programmes to succeed.”
Chris highlighted three questions underpinning any digital transformation programme:
  • What is the definition of success as defined by your customer or even your customer’s customer?
  • How confident are you that your programme has the right balance between cost efficiency and meeting your customer’s needs in a human way?
  • Are you confident you have de-risked your investment?
Each of the questions force the business to reflect and set objectives for their digital transformation. But it is also time to consider:
  • Is your process as efficient as it could be?
  • How effectively you deliver the product?
  • Could technology or digital transformation help improve that efficiency?

Can we use digital transformation to support the customer experience?

And how will it impact the way the product is being consumed downstream?
From here, you can begin to unlock a significant opportunity to resolve your customer’s emotional pain points.
It’s a fresh perspective. If taken a step further, and applied across the supply chain, you can begin to understand how to add value through the life of your product.
By understanding your customer’s customers, you can leverage your transformation. And this is where you can begin to add real value.
Customer insight helps you re-imagine what your proposition might be. And how technology can help deliver this.
In a world that is changing so fast, there is a real need to stay close to customers. We need to understand their desired outcomes, and how to meet their needs and expectations.

A customer-first approach to digital transformation

Yet many digital transformation programmes are divorced from the customer. The language of internal projects is often focussed on internal goals. Efficiency, production, control, input, time – all measured with existing metrics.
However, the language of the customer is very different. Transparent, easy, hassle-free, enjoyable. And that’s through tone as well as intent. Which if not aligned to project objectives, sets the programme up for failure from the outset.
By marrying the process-led manufacturer with the relationship-led customer perspective, value becomes clear. Getting true value from your digital investment means balancing this process and relationship.
For leaders, taking the time to ensure perspectives are aligned will pay dividends. And in this alignment lies the successful implementation of digital initiatives. For this to happen, you must define how to measure success, reward and recognition.
If digital transformation is led from the internal existing culture, chances are it will never be optimal. Organisations need to be appreciative of the changing needs and expectations of their customers.

A true brand experience

Leading brands are doing this. When executed well, it translates into magical customer experiences. You must deliver top tier customer service that matches the quality of your product. And to do this, you must understand how to meet the changing emotional needs of your customers.
Through this brand experience, innovation ignites. Which in turn helps identify how you can use digital technology to change the experience.


Digital programmes that focus on efficiency and cost rarely deliver the original goals. In effect, they recreate and enshrine existing processes in new technology. They ought to reflect desired changes in the expectations of customers.
A successful digital transformation requires the mindset of the organisation to change. Starting from leadership down.
Successful companies recognise the need not only for product quality, but also to deliver great experience. To do this they will need to understand their customers and what they are looking for.
If you want to align digital technologies to delivering a process, it’s crucial to look at the process itself. The success of this relies on marrying up internal processes with customer intent.
From here, you can look to leverage the potential of digital tools that transform productivity, while delivering a great customer experience.
Ultimately it is the experience that the customer remembers. Sometimes more so than the product itself. And any digital transformation programme must be aligned to that intent.
In the words of the great Peter Drucker…
“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all…Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the customer gets out of it.”

Chris Garthwaite is CEO of CGA and is recognised as a pioneer of customer experience, based on his work over the last thirty years, helping clients around the world design and deliver design compelling customer propositions.

CGA a highly respected Customer consultancy, specialising in customer-centric insight and change programmes. Working with leading brands across a range of sectors, CGA one of Europe’s leading Customer experience solution providers, and specialises in helping clients navigate the challenges of changing customer needs, societal shifts and digital disruption.