This year I had the pleasure to attend a Think Tank seminar in Davos with a focus on Smart Cities and seeking to leverage new technologies to overcome future challenges. As digital transformation and some of the associated new technologies are on many leader’s agenda, it’s worthwhile providing a brief context and guidance on how digital transformation ought to be implemented in the fast-paced Contract Services pharmaceutical world, where customer-facing roles are front and center to revenue generation and operational efficiency.
#1 Let’s start by acknowledging that the key word in digital transformation is not digital as expected based on the social media noise but transformation. A transformation is a major change in an organization that goes right to the roots of the firm and seeks a cultural and operational change in order to be better prepared for market dynamics ahead.
In order to prepare a transformation, there is some heavy lifting to be done in terms of crafting and defining what a company wants to accomplish as well as its rationale. Understanding, and constantly remembering, why the change is imperative is ultimately key to success.
It is then equally imperative that any transformation is supported by the CEO-office as that’s where the cultural change ought to start and must be visible to the rest of the organization until completion. A word of caution, verify that the strategy in terms of content and speed is aligned with what the organization is willing to bear economically (capital, resources, ROI expectations).
#2 Focus on gathering information from market analysis, Voice of the Customer, Voice of the Employee as well as possible best practices from outside of your organization. Eventually, the goal is to find better ways of working with your customers but also a more integrated internal value chain. An important factor is to involve your customer facing staff in gathering information and also coming up with new ideas. As you go through the Customer Journey and seek to improve touch points based on the info at hand, pay close attention to creating buckets that you can use later to form teams around specific topics eg. Resources, L&D, Skills, Communication, internal Roles, etc. Also, you may want to mark “quick win’s”. Often when staff invests time to get a helicopter view on a complex topic, easy fixes may become more apparent.
#3 Technology. Here is where the word “digital” comes into play. A company can choose to operate new processes using paper-based templates (logs, questionnaires, templates, …), continue using MS Office; or start introducing the latest technologies to accommodate a new operating model. Based on all recent questionnaires on digital technology challenges, technology is not perceived as the main challenge. There’s a myriad of software packages growing exponentially that accommodate basically anything. Also, there are process mining tools out there you may want to consider as part of the second step in order to visualize your actual status. Essentially, you may already have good data available but it is dispersed over x number of systems, not easy to consolidate or just too cumbersome to do manually. As you are heading to digitize processes and ultimately use data to predict your market environment or/and innovate new products/services, make sure your IT has been a key stakeholder in the business transformation and is fully aware where you’re going. When choosing new technologies, it is imperative that IT experts are co-leading and assessing the user needs vs what is available on the market, impact on the infrastructure/architecture, data privacy, integration vs. migration, perform supplier due diligence, etc. Unfortunately, it is not hard to find examples of failed IT implementations. This typically happens when the strategy was not fully supported or the direction changed, requirements where not clear, the software supplier over-committed/-sold, or not enough (experienced, skilled) resources were allocated to the implementation and deployment of the solution.
Last but not least, when going through a Cx transformation and implementation of new processes as well as technologies don’t lose sight of the Customer. Ultimately, you want to be easier to work with as an organization: agile, responsive, integrated and anticipating the customer’s needs by leveraging your new data.