This is the consensus view of an MIT Technology Review Insights survey of 210 members of technology executives, conducted in March 2021. These respondents indicate that they need – and still often lack – the ability to rapidly develop new digital channels and services, and optimize them in real time.
Two fundamental drivers underpin these waves of digital transformation: the ability to better serve and understand customers, and the need to increase the ability of employees to work more effectively towards those goals.
Two-thirds of respondents indicated that a more effective customer experience was the most critical goal. This was closely followed by the use of analytics and information to improve products and services (60%). Increased team collaboration and communication, and increased security of digital assets and intellectual property came in third, with around 55% each.
All digital goals are integrally linked to improving customer and employee engagement, retention and activation. Richard Jefts, vice president and general manager of digital solutions at HCL, notes that increasing collaboration and team communication has received additional attention over the past year.
“With covid-19, management teams needed to ensure that business could continue remotely, which meant new levels of adoption of collaboration capabilities and the use of low code by employees to digitize business processes. in order to fill in the gaps, ”says Jefts.
Miao Song, chief information officer of Brussels-based Mars Petcare, notes that digitization has steadily redefined her company’s global pet nutrition and veterinary services business. “Our online business has grown at double digits, and the resulting volume of customer data allows us to better forecast demand,” says Song.
Digital tools also make it possible to quickly collect and use more and better market data. Song points out that AI-enabled image recognition tools are used by Mars sales representatives to analyze retail shelves and generate insights for better inventory management.
As Mars’ reliance on AI and analytics grows throughout the organization, it is teaching many employees how to use low-code tools to build their internal capabilities. Low code is a software development approach that requires little or no coding to create applications and processes, allowing users with no formal knowledge of coding or software development to build applications.
“Everyone in our company needs to become a data analyst, not just members of the IT team,” says Song, speaking of Mars’ efforts to increase digital literacy to improve visibility across the business chain. ‘supply the business, refine pricing strategies and develop new products and services.
Song notes that promoting the use of low-code development tools through hackathons and other activities has been an important part of Mars’ efforts: “We have to break the idea that only IT can access and use our data resources, ”she adds.
Customer experience is (still) queen
Survey respondents indicated that they have already seen a significant increase in customer experience process performance since they embarked on digital transformation efforts. Over the coming year, the customer experience continues to be a priority.
Respondents particularly seek to improve digital channels, monitoring analytics and supporting personalization, as well as AI or automated customer engagement tools. Other digital skills are being built to adapt to changes in the expectations and requirements of customers and partners, streamlining customer experience processes by providing multi-experience capabilities.
Alan Pritchard, director of ICT services for Austin Health, a public hospital group based in Melbourne, Australia, says his company’s digital transformation process began to accelerate long before the impact of covid-19 hit. ‘installed.
“A 2019 service review model identified home monitoring and home care as essential to our future service delivery. So even before the pandemic, our health strategy focused on improving digital channels and increasing our ability to support people on the outside. hospital, ”explains Pritchard, noting that to execute Austin Health’s outreach strategy, a common customer relationship management (CRM) platform had to be built.
“While some future service models may be delivered with telehealth initiatives or with device integration, there is still a lot of work to be done to determine how you communicate electronically with people about their health.” , says Pritchard.
The organization’s common CRM platform was to accommodate many stand-alone specialist departments, “and each of them wants their own application to communicate electronically with their patients,” observes Pritchard.
Managing many separate application development processes is complex, although “there are common patterns in how departments engage with patients in the appointment, preparation, and follow-up processes. ”Says Pritchard,“ So we need a highly reusable platform, rather than a series of applications built on custom code.
This, along with the need to distribute some control and customization across multiple departments, took Prichard’s team down a low-code path.
This is largely correlated with the experiences of our survey cohort: over 75% of respondents indicate that they have increased their use of digital development platforms (including low code), and over 80% have increased their priorities. investment in workflow management tools over the past year. .
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This content was produced by Insights, the personalized content arm of MIT Technology Review. It was not written by the editorial staff of the MIT Technology Review.