When a shiny new piece of technology appears on the market, the knee-jerk reaction for many marketers is to go a bit Gollum on it, hiss myyyy precioussss and grab at it, thinking that it will be The One Thing to rule them all. The missing piece that will attract more leads, more conversions and cutting edge campaigns.
However, as the more savvy among us know, technology by itself is – like Gollum’s precious – not any of the following:
- A silver bullet
- A bandaid
- The solution to all your existing problems.
For the tech market, investing in the latest and greatest bit of kit isn’t all there is to driving digital transformation. As technology continues to change purchasing behavior and customer expectations the question you have to ask is: how will this help me provide my customer with the most fluid, intuitive and happy experience?
Bonnie Thorn, Head of Marketing at Red Balloon, quoted Steve Jobs in her CeBIT Australia 2016 presentation, saying that, ‘You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology, not the other way around.’ The goal is not technology itself, but using it as an enabler for a seamless and effortless encounter with your brand.
So, how can marketers use digital transformation to put customers at the centre of their experience?
The change within: Red Balloon and Ticketek
The smarter companies know that if you want to make sure that your technology is going to provide you with a return on investment then you need to make sure that your company culture is setup to welcome that change. As Thorn noted, the culture at Red Balloon, isn’t just about implementing the latest bit of data analytics software, it’s about making sure that her staff and the staff in the IT department are aligned in terms of vision and knowledge. She says, ‘for us it was essential to have an integrated IT and marketing strategy.'
The way businesses can achieve this is by focusing on a cultural shift. Mohammad Elteibi at Ticketek notes that his business achieves this by having innovation days, a day where the analytics team, the IT team and the marketing department team meet up to come up with ideas for the business. He says that it’s very valuable, not only for the ideas that derive from this, but it gives the members of the various departments an opportunity to understand the challenges the other side faces. It’s also enormously fun and great working relationships come out of the day as well.
Reinforcing these relationships also helps the departments to learn how to speak ‘the language of data.' It allows marketing to articulate what they need and it allows IT to not just mindlessly implement, but to really examine whether the technology will bring the anticipated value to a project. By making cultural change a priority it enables an agile and strategic approach to implementing new technology.
Something old, something new: the transformation of Burberry
Another mistake that brands can make is discard the very thing that made them unique, in order to jump on the latest trend. The true innovators know that they can strategically use technology to amplify what makes them special and to transform the way they are perceived in the process. Case-in-point: Burberry. As Forbes has adroitly stated: ‘What company has so seamlessly integrated its online and offline experience that it never feels like two different companies? I’m looking right at Burberry’.’
If fashion were a person, then a few years ago Burberry would have been considered a posh old English lady.
In fact pre-2009 it would have been the last brand in the world you’d expect to be using technology — like finding out that your nan’s a Tinder ninja. But rather than fade quietly into the Chintz sofa, Burberry decided to be bold. They hired Angela Ahrendts, marketer extraordinaire, as their CEO. One of her first moves was to allocate 60% of their marketing budget to digital strategy, a move which saw them go from a measly 2% yearly growth to tripling its’ annual sales within five years.
A big part of this success was understanding what their value could be to younger millennial markets. Burberry didn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, rather they realised that their history, their quintessential Englishness and their key pieces (namely the trenchcoat) were the foundation on which to build their digital strategy. They turned these traits from stodgy and antiquated to bespoke, using technology to amplify their new message.
One of the key elements in this strategy was carefully integrating digital experiences with the physical. For example, they created Burberry Bespoke, a site that allows you to create your own customised piece. You can share you creation on the site, allowing you to have what Forbes describes as ‘a millennial hero moment.’ This experience can be supplemented when the customer goes into the beautiful Burberry flagship store. Some items have clothing that the customer can scan to get a video about the history and the workmanship of the garment. When they go into the changing room to try on clothes, a video may appear showing a runway model wearing the clothes.
Burberry was so successful because technology didn’t swamp the physical user experience, it merely heightened it.
Futuristic technology for the current-day customer: Amazon
Retail giant Amazon are trailblazers when it comes to using the latest technology. Their strategic use of technology hasn’t just allowed them to be industry leaders, it was crucial in helping them to survive the dot-com bubble.
Robotic shelves, drones and highly sophisticated personalisation data analytics are just some of the cool tech they use. However, Amazon aren’t just using technology because they can. CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos says there is one clearly defined feature attributed to Amazon’s success, stating: ‘If there’s one reason we have done better than any of our peers in the internet space over the last six years, it is because we have focused like a laser on customer experience.’ It is a well-known practice in meetings that an empty chair will always be present. The empty chair represents the customer, ‘the most important person in the room.’
To make sure that they are delivering their customers the best service possible, they rely on a culture of metrics. Business Management reports that Amazon has about 500 measurable goals ‘80% of them to do with customer experience.’
Because there are so many measurable elements, it gives the Amazon team a profound insight into customer experience, the team knows straight away when a website function isn’t working and can alter accordingly. For example, they discovered that ‘a minuscule 0.1-second delay in loading speed can translate into a 1% drop in customer activity.’
Data-driven KPIs are also important because it means that Amazon employees can’t be complacent in their roles. Marketing, IT, analytics and manufacturing are all working off the same numbers asking the same question. How can I improve what I am doing to make a process/product/campaign better for the customer? To get to these answers the roles are becoming intertwined. An agile culture and a commitment to innovations is what keeps Amazon on top, technology is only a the icing on the cake.
Technology is for people
As the above examples demonstrate, the heart of digital transformation isn’t technology; it’s people. Every piece of technology should be used to make sure you’re providing a superlative customer experience. Keeping up with how organisations and businesses leverage technology, reading up on the latest trends, and cultivating your learning is integral to ensuring that technology works for you – not the other way around. If you would like to learn more about how to harness the potential of technology for your marketing operations then check out the Enterprise Mobility 2017 @ CeBIT program today.