Finance Monthly recently spoke with Rajeev Tandon, CEO of Xavient Digital – powered by TELUS International, about how future competitiveness will be determined by those who make digital evolution a part of their core DNA to continuously adapt ahead of their competitors.
Today’s businesses are focused on digital transformation more than ever before, with many CEOs and CIOs listing it as a top priority in 2018 and beyond. Why is that the case?
Digital transformation or digital enablement – the changes associated with integrating digital technology to enable innovation in all aspects of a business – is increasingly top of mind for many companies because of its significant impact on a brand’s ability to deliver superior customer experiences compared to their competitors. The trend towards digital is also being exacerbated by disruptive companies that continue to shake up traditional business models and steadily gain market share.
In the digital age, consumers want next-gen technology-enabled user experiences today – not tomorrow – from the brands they support. These predictive and hyper-personalised interactions, which must also be available when, where and how they want, are quickly becoming the norm as opposed to a ‘value added’ feature. In addition to making every customer touchpoint and interaction more meaningful, evolving digitally also helps on the back end, improving processes and driving operational agility – critical factors in a rapidly evolving marketplace.
Importantly, companies must recognise that digital transformation has no clear finish line, but must be repeatedly executed in order to keep pace with new technologies entering the market.
What are the top factors driving digital enablement?
Customer experience is arguably the topmost factor driving digital enablement as a captivating customer journey goes a long way in establishing unflinching customer loyalty. In fact, customer experience is becoming increasingly recognised as a fundamental competitive differentiator – even more so than the product in many instances.
Rising competition in this regard has brought dynamic technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain among others to the forefront. When harnessed as part of an overall digital enablement strategy, these technologies can help brands develop a deeper understanding of their customers’ expectations in order to better align their products and services to meet, and oftentimes, anticipate their needs.
Additionally, as tech-savvy Millennials overtake Baby Boomers as the largest segment of the population, brands need to up their ‘digital game’ in order to create engaging user experiences. Whether companies seek to accomplish this internally, or look to develop a trusted outsourcing partnership externally, this is how brands will thrive today and into the future in the new age of the digitised customer experience. Moreover, brands need to focus on delivering personalised services and shorter time-to-market, as both significantly contribute towards delightful customer experiences.
Are there specific industries that should be focused on digital enablement?
Regardless of product or service type, the size of your business or your industry, leveraging some aspect of a digital evolution will enhance your performance. This is because the true power of digital doesn’t live in the technologies themselves, but in how they are selected, customised and integrated with one another and into all aspects of a company, including customer service. Where there are customers, there will be patterns in their behaviours, expectations and attitudes, and digital enablement is about arranging all customer touchpoints into a connected network that is proactive, agile, intelligent and analytical.
Financial services and FinTech are industries where digital enablement has flourished in order to meet the needs of consumers who are continually seeking more efficient, accessible and personalised experiences from their providers. Traditional banks, for instance, can no longer get by with simply a website and an app, they need to be able to offer far more features than the ability to check an account balance to keep up with the new products and services being offered by non-financial brands such as Apple Pay and Google Wallet.
But, when FinTech providers focus entirely on launching new products or rolling out more flexible options, customer service can get left behind. By partnering with a customer experience provider to help sustain the brand experience, FinTechs can balance innovation with exceptional customer service.
All in all, digitally-enabled businesses reduce customer effort, which leads to satisfied customers, increased brand affinity and top-line growth.
What are some of the challenges that businesses face when undertaking a digital enablement strategy?
While some worry about being able to keep pace with the latest technologies, others fear falling in the gulf between the initiation and finalisation of large-scale initiatives, or are hesitant to invest in new technology before they realise a financial return on a legacy system.
These are valid concerns and challenges, however, they should not stop companies from pursuing a digital enablement strategy. Instead, they should inform how you design and execute it, as there are various ways to incorporate many different aspects of digital capabilities into your business.
Digital enablement does not mean that a business needs to transform its operations overnight, nor does it preclude a major initial investment. It is a process and companies can begin by taking small steps, such as integrating a chatbot or an AI-powered analytics platform into their existing operations.
It’s also important to understand that technology adoption alone does not equal digital enablement. The overall corporate evolution, with an emphasis on strategy, operations and culture is the star – technology is the supporting cast. In this regard, another challenge organisations can face is internal resistance to change by employees.
Not everyone welcomes a new way of doing things, and if widespread, this lack of curiosity and experimentation often deprives businesses from discovering new and better ways to operate, work more efficiently and deliver enhanced customer experiences. A risk-averse mindset can be similarly detrimental, so it’s critical to foster a culture that embraces change, has a growth mindset, and is agile. Training and education also go a long way in executing a solid digital strategy.
What are some of the ways brands are leveraging next-gen technology to change the way they do business?
Innovation in technology has empowered companies from start-ups to mature brands, to create disruptions in their industry in order to gain a competitive edge by reimagining the possibilities for their customers. Next-gen technologies are helping them better understand the needs of their customers today and can more accurately predict what they will want in the future in order to guide the necessary improvements to their tools and technology architecture.
AI-powered analytics platforms that aggregate agent-customer interactions from various channels into intelligent patterns are in high demand in an age where customer expectations are at an all-time high. Brands are profiting from these platforms’ abilities to use voice recognition, natural language processing and even sarcasm detection to decipher customer intent with reliable probability to detect critical issues that need immediate resolution and to drive recommended actions.
At the end of the day, successfully implementing a digital enablement strategy also requires having highly-skilled and knowledgeable customer service agents who can fully leverage these new technologies across different platforms and customer contact points. In the months and years ahead, these types of universal agents will continue to be key to providing high-tech, high- touch brand experiences.
About Xavient Digital
Acquired by TELUS International in February 2018, Xavient Digital – powered by TELUS International, provides advanced, next-gen IT consulting and delivery services, including Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered Digital Transformation services, User Interface/User Experience (UI/UX) design, Open Source Platform services, Cloud services, Over-The-Top (OTT) solutions, Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data services, DevOps, and IT Lifecycle services.
With a focus on supporting fast-growing tech, travel and hospitality, telecommunications and healthcare clients, the combined company of more than 30,000 inspired team members is a leader in the customer experience and digital services markets.