Embrace Innovation to Survive and Thrive
In today’s light-speed digital economy, startups can disrupt incumbents faster than ever. Just think Uber and cab companies. Or Netflix and Blockbuster. Or Amazon and your local mall. To survive and thrive in this era, companies must be able to innovate quickly to identify and seize the opportunity. Often we see companies talk about wanting to be innovative, but they don’t empower a culture that allows for innovative thinking, because they don’t know how. If your company wants to succeed in digital and be serious about innovation then you must ask yourself the question, “Am I ok with knowing that not every idea is going to be a home run, and that it takes a framework to develop innovative thinking which yields brilliant ideas?” If the answer to the question was no, then innovation powered by digital is not for you. If the answer is yes, then your organization needs to develop a structured framework to empower innovation, one that helps shape raw ideas and focus them into actionable business activities.
In addition to providing the appropriate framework and structure to support innovation, we have identified four ways your organization can use data and technology to better engage with customers, understand what they want, and accelerate growth in 2018 and beyond through digital transformation:
Get a 360-degree view of customers.
Most companies have basic information about their customers, such as email address and past purchase history. Going forward, that’s not enough. “Companies need to capture additional data points about their customers to understand better their needs and preferences—such as which products to market to them, across which channels, and at what date and time,” said Dean Nelson, national director of CohnReznick’s Technology and Digital Advisory Practice. Leading companies are leveraging geotargeting technologies to learn granular details about their customers, he noted. For instance, a large Las Vegas property has installed hundreds of IoT beacons throughout the property to understand customer behaviors while on property and after their departure. This information aids the hotel to more accurately target customers with unique offerings that appeal to them on a personal and temporal level.
Drive decisions with data.
In today’s digital environment, the most successful companies are capturing information at a pace and volume never seen before—and they’re able to make sense of it all in real-time. You may not have the resources of Google or Amazon, but you can still gain a significant competitive advantage with data. For example, unstructured datasets, such as data from social media platforms, can help unlock hidden opportunities and identify unknown issues. Some companies are differentiating themselves by aggregating masses of information from the social graph i.e., blog posts, Twitter feeds, and Facebook comments. Leveraging that data, to drive business decisions, you can quickly and accurately incorporate new features and functionality that will have the greatest impact on customer satisfaction and stickiness.
Data is the first part of the equation. Analytics is the next. Smart companies use analytics to see the data, learn more about their customers and accelerate growth. For example, retail companies can leverage analytics to gain insights into their customers’ spending habits and optimize inventory. Analytics also enable you to understand why one location is successful and another is not. What attributes do successful stores share and how can those attributes be instilled at all locations? Analytics can also help businesses better understand the profit margin on each of their products. Starting small with analytics is always the key to success. Too often we see companies with many reports that they “need” but never “use.” It is essential to ask the question, “What are we trying to prove or disprove?” Once you answer that question, you can build the analytics to support that decision.
Be a content king.
Content doesn’t only help you sell a product; it offers value-added education and experience around that product that aids in a customer’s overall satisfaction and enjoyment. Content may include anything from a how-to video explaining the many uses for a product, a webinar about evolving trends in your specific industry, or a simple pictorial how-to guide that helps someone better understand features and functionality. In addition to creating content, it is critical that a company identifies the right distribution channel based on their customer preference and ensure the content is tailored to align with the method that a consumer is accustomed to consuming via that channel. For example, a long-form how-to video is better suited for YouTube and services like Instagram or Snapchat are better suited for quick product feature highlights and general awareness. The bottom line is that customers want to identify with brands. Companies that deliver content that resonates with customers will drive conversions at higher rates—and that can drive higher sales.
Digital transformation will continue to up the expectation ante from customers. It’s a challenge but, like all challenges, it opens an opportunity. Companies that embrace digital innovation can radically improve their business models, meet and exceed customer expectations, and gain a competitive advantage in 2018.
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