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Five to Thrive: Five things to keep in mind when considering a major transformation

 

 

At Differly, we work with many organizations that are facing an urgent need to rethink, how they create and deliver value to customers in a digital economy. Some will call this a transformation (if there are many initiatives to manage at the same time to make the shift) and others will call it a continual process of innovation.  Either way, it's really not about technology but rather a business strategy. 

If you're a leader thinking about or embarking on a major shift, here are five guiding principles to focus your efforts

1. Always put the customer at the heart of the transformation

Customer behavior is arguably the biggest shift of the digital revolution. How can you design and deliver a better end-to-end experience leveraging both on and offline channels seamlessly? Can you leverage digital technology to remove any barrier, friction, and continually deliver additional value? 

2. Align on vision

Before determining the pain points,...

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Are you stalling?

I am a fan of frameworks, as a way to organize complex thoughts and providing a map to follow. I have created my fair share over the years.  It gives us a way to start and guidance. But it's just that, guidance. It's not absolute.  You might have another way to frame things that is just as good. It's  your vision of the world or your way of approaching this problem. Great, let’s compare and contrast and choose one way to approach things. 

There is no absolute certainty in a framework and looking for it only delays the hard work that needs to be done. The world we seek to create doesn’t exist yet. The technology we’ll be living with in 15 years, hasn’t come to fruition and its full impact is yet unknown. 

The uncertainty of it is the point. The important thing is to start. The risk of doing nothing almost certainly outweighs the risk of doing something. 

Steeping in your own expertise for too long can keep you stuck in...

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Five fundamentals to reimagine the workplace and why "worklife balance" is a setup for failure.

For every survey I’ve read stating that over 70% of people are looking forward to getting back to the office, I’ve read another stating 70% would be willing to continue working from home.

These results should come as no surprise, as it is not - and has never been -  a black and white issue. Shopify’s recent news, along with many notable tech firms, to be digital first and 100% remote will create much needed discussion but it does not have to be an “all or nothing” proposition.

This shift in the nature of work (e.g. teleworking, remote work, gig economy, virtual work, flexible work programs) was occurring way before the pandemic. Many organizations – granted mostly in high tech -   such as Buffer, GitLab and Zapier – which were already 100% virtual, are proving that the model does work and some of their practices can translate to more traditional industries and corporate cultures.

However, what we are seeing now is a crisis-induced...

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COVID-19, the game changer that will push us all into the digital revolution.

COVID-19 is first and foremost a human crisis, requiring companies to protect their people. Amid this human impact, companies are also coming to terms with the impact of the pandemic on their businesses, in particular small and medium size enterprises.

The pandemic will be hitting small businesses the hardest. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) reported that 42% of surveyed SMEs depend solely on face-to-face contact for the majority of sales

COVID-19 might be the game changer that pushes us all into the digital revolution, digitizing services, and forcing us to shift to digital business models.

Although there are many more pressing issues, such as ensuring elderly parents are safe or balancing home schooling, while managing a business and a remote team (I am in the thick of all those things), challenging times also present opportunities.

Here are some concrete strategies to engage your customers via digital channels and potentially create new revenue...

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Why we Need Leaders with a “Digital State of Mind”

Just as Billy Joel coined the term “New York State of Mind”, the Fourth Revolution might be associated with a “Digital State of Mind”.  The major drivers of disruption – social media, big data, mobility (anywhere, anytime computing), cloud and now AI and robotics – have radically changed how we work, the nature of competition and customer expectations. With technology changing so fast, it is easy to think that mastering these drivers is the main path to success.  However, an increasing amount of research is pointing to the fact that leaders are the true differentiators.

In an article published in the Harvard Business Review in 2014, Leading Digital: Turning Technology into Business Transformation, authors Didier Bonnet and George Westerman concluded that a leader’s capabilities had a huge impact on the organization’s capacity to fulfill technology’s potential. They offer as examples: the ability to develop a cohesive...

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The Benefits of Knowing the Gaps

For close to 9 years now, I've made a practice of regularly assessing my goals, both personal and business. After about 10 years into my career, I was finding myself getting caught up in a frenetic pace of daily/weekly to-do lists.  To counter this, I started to get up much earlier in the morning at 5 a.m  to journal, center myself and plan the day ahead. Once the kids arrived - we now have three under 9 - it also provided critical alone time.  But more importantly, this is when I started taking stock of my broader life goals. It may sound intense but it doesn't have to be if done regularly.

I focus on the lifestyle that I want to achieve and general outcomes I'm aiming for. For example some of my desired outcomes are freedom to travel, diversity of work and clients, constant learning and growth, total mind and body fitness.  I then look at my current day to day activities and see if they are aligned to those outcomes. Am I losing my way? If so, is it temporary?...

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Defining Digital

Five short years ago, if you were to ask organizational leaders to define their digital strategy, the answer would either pertain to their digital marketing efforts or be synonymous with IT. Today, “digital” refers to a more all-encompassing approach,  impacting technology choices, customer experience, organizational culture, leadership styles and of course business models. It’s no wonder organizations are struggling to define their digital strategy.

The latest PwC Digital IQ report suggests that in order to keep up with Canada’s growing commitment to innovation, Canadian executives must gain a better understanding of what it means “to be digital”. While 47% of Canadian leaders see “digital” as a holistic strategy, covering technology and innovation related activities as well as cultural and mindset shifts, 30% of them see it mainly as a customer facing activity.

Therein lies the shift. Organizations are still grappling on how to...

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Customer experience is everyone’s business. Four steps to becoming more customer centric

At its simplest, customer experience is your customers’ perception of how you treat them. What does it feel like to do business with you? Your “brand” is the sum total of all their experiences with your organization and every touchpoint matters. Your customers’ perception will impact their behavior, actions and ultimately brand loyalty, or lack thereof. Only when your business has defined what that experience or feeling should be, can it determine which processes, improvements and technologies are needed to support it.

In this hyper-connected era, one of the biggest challenges I see my clients struggle with across all industries is understanding the role of each channel on the path to purchase (or whatever your particular conversion point may be such as a renewal or a subscription).

Four steps to becoming more customer centric:

  1. Understand your customer. Develop personas (not just segments).
  2. Seek to understand and map the journey across your channels...
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Five Attributes Required to Lead in the Digital Economy

What does it mean to lead in an age of rapid change and disruption? Although we’ve been leveraging technology for decades, organizations are still grappling with being digital. As we’ve seen with many technology projects gone awry, technology alone does not make an organization digitally adept.  More than ever, the cultural shift, the capabilities and in particular, the changes required in leadership styles are the true barriers.

If you think about the environment in which leaders operated less than a decade ago:

  1. Information was power. (Leaders typically had access to the most data.)
  2. Information was hierarchical. We expected leaders to have all the answers.
  3. Leaders had to appear in control. Being unsure was generally frowned upon.
  4. Generally speaking, leaders were not allowed to make mistakes (or they could not readily admit they made a mistake).

Fast forward to the last five or six years in particular, and the world is more than ever:

  1. Social (People based....
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Organizations don’t disrupt, People do. Technology helps.

A successful - and sometimes transformative - business model represents a better way. When we think about an industry in “transformation” such as traditional print, media or retail, we often think about the adoption of a new technology as the better way. However, new tech is not transformative in and of itself.  Rather, what creates disruption is the ability to envision how we will leverage emerging tech in order to address an anticipated market need.

There are a number of commonalities in digital business models that make them transformative.  The IMD Center for Digital Business Transformation wrote one of the most informative white papers on the topics of Digital Business Models. Their research into the business models of over 100 disruptors revealed three main themes based on creating value: 1) Cost Value 2) Experience Value 3) Platform Value. Successful models will often use a combination of more than one of these.

Delivering Value Based on Cost

Here the...

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