Digital Transformation: projekt202’s CEO Gives Pragmatic Advice on Where to Begin

Is your organization seeing the full benefits from experience enhancements that are available today?

In this interview, projekt202 CEO David Lancashire shares his advice on digital transformation, and how companies must transform to survive and thrive.

Following is a transcript of David's interview:

Jeremy Johnson, projekt202 Vice President of Customer Experience:             
In a recent IT World article, "Seven Reasons CIOs Quit (or Lose Their Jobs)," it talks about how most enterprises are still formulating their digital strategies, and the inability to align on a roadmap is a top reason why digital transformation strategies fail. There's also some confusion. Some view transformations as a play to connect with customers and generate revenue, while others view it as a way to cut costs and improve operational efficiencies.

David, I'm interested in your advice on how companies should approach a successful digital transformation.

David Lancashire

David Lancashire

David  Lancashire, projekt202 CEO:
Thanks, Jeremy, for that intro. There's quite a lot to digest, and obviously it's a big, hot topic for everyone, how to drive a successful digital transformation. What I want to try to do is give some very pragmatic advice on the key things to be thinking about, and maybe some really good places to start that don't make the whole process overwhelming and lead to a lack of progress.

I think the first fundamental beginning of everything is companies being very clear on their own business drivers. I think that this topic can get a little too mystified by misunderstandings about business. I think people from the business world who understand business models and how they make money at a unit level, and what the gross margin is, and essentially what the total available market might be, and how they'd like to go and gain more market share, for those people that are from that world, this is a relatively straightforward thing, so we need to get that out of the way first of all.

We've got to determine, what is our largest revenue-generating line of business? What's our biggest up-and-coming line of business? Let's take specific areas that we know we can go after, and say, "OK, we're going to focus on those areas being the main business driver of this initiative."

For over 15 years, projekt202 has refined a repeatable, programmatic methodology that centers on answering questions about customers through direct observational fieldwork to identify people’s needs, behaviors and aspirations.

Once we know those areas -- and I guess as I go through this example today, I'm going to use a sandwich shop that might have thousands of stores across the country, and think about it as that being the example business in this case -- once we have those business drivers, the next spot we need to go to, and this just so happens to be an area of expertise for projekt202, is understanding the customer experience and/or employee experience that are involved in this area of the business.

The methodology didn’t just rely on hiring people with empathy. It provided a repeatable framework so that researchers, designers and developers alike could develop empathy for the real people using the solution.
— projekt202 CEO David Lancashire

My strong, strong advice is that we identify a hero project opportunity right out of the gate, where we know for sure that this employee ... In this case, I'm going to take a role where somebody is a consultant to eight to ten stores in the field, that have these sandwich shops, and their job is to go out there and make sure that those sandwich shops are promoting the right offerings of the week that are being advertised, that they're performing well, that they're clean, and following the franchise rules, and various things like that.

Think about that person's job. Do they have the right data and information when they're having that meeting at that store with that business owner or operator? Or is it very difficult to get together? Are they waiting for some sort of batch-processed data system that they have to get up at the crack of dawn to absorb, and then drive across town thinking about all these sheets of paper they have in the back seat of the car they've got to dig out and start going through? Or could they, theoretically, have this wonderful discussion with Siri about how the store's performing, and what data they need in that moment that they could then flip through information on an iPad real-time, in the store, and have this discussion in a real simple, easy-to-use way?

That vision of an improved experience for that employee is not necessarily that hard to imagine. We know the devil is in the detail of how we would get to that vision, but that's an example of the kind of thing we could go after very specifically, and if we made that particular person's role more effective and efficient, we'd actually be driving profitability for the whole company, because the company can now actually add another store to that individual's workload, because they can get through the work more effectively and more quickly. Guess what that does? Increase gross margin or profitability for the entire organization, and that's from one hero project on a key area of the business.

Let's flip over really quickly to the customer experience, and let's imagine that some customers have joined a loyalty program. Maybe they've downloaded some apps related to this particular client to gain access to some promotions, or clock some points. How easy is it for that customer to engage at the store, and benefit from their loyalty or promotion or whatever? Are they confused with far too many apps from the app store, or they just can't be bothered to download these apps? We could tackle something, and say, "OK, we're not engaging in the right way." All of that would lead us to do what? To go research in more detail what the experience enhancements might be for that particular employee, and that particular customer scenario. We would, using typically qualitative research techniques, where we actually follow and watch, and observe these real people in the context of that situation, we would identify a series of experience enhancements.

Now where does that put us? We've got business drivers. We know we're focused on the right thing. Number two, we're now clear on some very specific experience enhancements for the customer and the employee for a potential hero project. Finally, we have to move to the complicated area of the technology environment. There's all kinds of legacy systems. There's all kinds of constraints as to what those systems can do and provide you today, and we have to go do an enterprise architecture assessment to understand how these experience enhancements that we now have begun to lay out designs for, how those could actually be implemented in the context of this very complex architectural environment.

What's cool about all of this is companies like projekt202 actually are expert in doing those enterprise architecture assessments. We're actually expert at finding out these experience enhancements at a customer and/or employee level, and lead into designs that would transform that experience. Those are purchasable services that you can get today, so the key missing link ends up being that those services aren't provided on something that really is for a key business driver for a hero project, and instead they may be layered across the entire enterprise, so it's so large in scale and size that things get lost. Turnover occurs. A senior IT leader leaves. A senior person in the business leaves, and suddenly the whole transformation effort has lost its focus and its orientation, but if you can have these hero projects as focal points, then you're able to point back to the success of those particular efforts, and it can really be a truly cohesive thing.

In a nutshell, let's do the simple work of really understanding the business drivers, which again, I think it's completely over-complicated, because there are teams that really do know what they need to accomplish there, and then use these services from companies like projekt202 that really can drill into these experience enhancements in these key areas, to lead to fantastic designs, and ones that are executable with deliverables over multiple years, so that you're seeing the benefits of this transformative effort not just at the end, in five years' time, but on the journey as well.

projekt202 is the leader in experience-driven software strategy, design and development. We have a unique and established methodology for understanding people in context — we reveal unmet needs — which drives everything we do. This leads to a crisp, clear understanding of the customer, which shapes the design and development of new solutions and experiences. We have the expertise, teams, skills and scale to deliver sophisticated software solutions that improve any and all touchpoints across the user journey.

projekt202 has spent over 15 years bringing to life and to market compelling experiences through our Experience Strategy & InsightUser ExperienceSoftware DevelopmentMarketing & Analytics, and Program Management practices. Our talented team has delivered emotionally-rich and intuitive solutions for global brands and clients such as 7-Eleven, Capital One, Dell, Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, Samsung Electronics, Neiman Marcus, and The Container Store, among many others.