How Crucial is the Human Experience for Digital Transformation?
The pace of digital change isn’t going to slow down anytime soon. In fact, if any of the predictions are correct, it will only continue to grow in scale and scope.
A recent report written by Chris Curran, Dan Garrett, and Tom Puthiyamadam from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) compiled responses from 2,216 IT and business leaders across the globe over the past ten years, exploring a metric they call, ‘digital IQ’: the measurement of an organization’s abilities to harness and profit from technology.
The analysis reveals that even companies who have spent the past decade investing in digital strategy are not prepared for what is to come — and definitely won’t be ready for what comes after that.
Businesses must figure out a way to stay one step ahead of constantly accelerating change, an undertaking that is comparable to running on a treadmill while someone is steadily increasing speed. Keeping this forecast in mind, how does PwC recommend business leaders approach the next era of digital?
The digital IQ report has a definitive answer: the single most important ingredient to master the art of ongoing digital transformation is a renewed focus on the human experience.
What is the human experience?
Be it employees or customers, people are the link between business and technology. Organizations, however, tend to allocate far more resources to building strategy than the experience of the individuals upon which the success of the strategy hinges.
Focusing on the human experience means putting people at the core of any digital transformation, employing a human-centered mindset to every building block of a business — from customer support to product to employee training.
According to PwC, this shift can dramatically increase an organization’s digital IQ, and has been linked to higher financial performance.
The human experience, the report notes, is the only element of technological change that businesses can actually control. Adopting this approach thus offers a solution to digital change that is flexible and sustainable.
The following principles, coupled with case studies mentioned in the Digital IQ report, illustrate what it means to have a human experience focused strategy in your organization:
Rethink how you deliver digital initiatives
Businesses today are more aware of the business value of new technology adoption — and the impact it can have on their bottom line. However, not enough emphasis is put on optimizing this process for the humans adopting the tech — the result is a failure to maximize the investment in digital.
The adoption process of new technologies tends to be awkward and ineffective, and the overall strategy often neglects the human factor. Exploring emerging technology is crucial for transformative efforts, but these initiatives must first be examined in the context of customer and employee experience.
Distiller Pernod Ricard (whose products include Absolut vodka, Jameson Irish whiskey, and Martell Cognac) used technology to overcome an obstacle — illegal knock-offs of his brand name liquor.
Using internet of thing (IoT) tech, they made it possible to track authentic bottles throughout the supply chain — but they didn’t stop there.
The company is taking this initiative one step further to truly engage the humans involved. They are working on a consumer-facing device called Opn, which includes features like online ordering, recipe suggestions based on the spirits on hand, and social calendaring.
This consideration for the human experience indicates a high digital IQ.
Put employee and customer interactions first
According to PwC, “Developing a high-quality user experience for employees and customers is a critical component of maximizing Digital IQ,” and one that is often not sufficiently prioritized.
The research shows that organizations that focus on creating better customer experiences through technology tend to have more mature strategies for digital across the board — and better results.
United Airlines is a leading example of this school of thought in action. The airline’s mobile app is highly successful, but their VP of Commercial Technology and Corporate Systems insists on fine tuning every last detail to create the ultimate customer experience.
As he puts it, “It serves our customers very well, but there still remains a number of interactions that we are missing, and that we are working on.”
This drive for ongoing improvement is the essence of this kind of human-oriented innovation.
Invest in creating a culture of tech innovation and adoption
Lack of attention to employee needs can be detrimental for an organization.
However, it has even more direct implications for Digital IQ in formation of a skills gap that can be harmful for transformational efforts.
Employees are the motor pushing your digital initiatives forward, so logically investing in specialized skills and a culture of innovation should be a top priority. An environment that values learning and collaboration will drive organizational longevity.
Visa takes the strength in numbers approach to innovative efforts, operating a global network of Innovation Centers to foster collaboration with companies of all types. These centers display a deep understanding of how the human experience can affect future initiatives.
“We focus on human-centered design, and design thinking is integrated into our operating model. We are trying to uncover a consumer pain point or a moment of customer delight, then iterate with rapid prototyping to try out solutions.”