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DX Summit 2018: Digital Transformation Means Everything and Nothing

DX Summit 2019

DX Summit, an annual conference hosted by CMSwire, gathers leaders from companies large and small to discuss how organizations can address digital transformation. This year’s conference was held from November 12-14 in Chicago with a theme of “Mastering the Mayhem: Conquer the Digital Chaos and Deliver Game-Changing Customer Experiences.” Below I will recap the three biggest trends that emerged from DX Summit 2018.

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1. Digital Transformation Means Everything and Nothing

According to the State of Digital Customer Experience, a survey by CMSWire, most digital transformation initiatives are being led by the executive team. There are several benefits to having executives involved but also risks associated with having senior leaders spearhead these efforts.

The Risk: Digital transformation is in the eye of the beholder.

For some companies, digital transformation means taking manual or analog processes and automating them to improve efficiency. For other companies, it’s about making a brand digitally available across every touchpoint of the customer journey. There is no single definition of what digital transformation means, which results in every company having to define it for themselves.

Because these categorizations are so broad, it can be difficult to build internal business cases or get strategic alignment on transformational objectives. For that reason, it is essential all parties agree on objectives and have a clear goal in mind to make the effort successful.

The Reward: Executives are in the unique position to push digital transformation.

To have a successful digital transformation, a company needs a strong executive sponsor. They are essential to facilitating the cross-team collaboration required for the effort, can furnish the otherwise elusive budget, and can provide the long-term plans required to ensure the effort matches the company vision. Having executives invested in the your digital transformation can drive the effort forward but defining what success.

What This Means for You

If you are involved with a broad digital transformation initiative that spans beyond your department, it’s important to find an executive that believes in what you are doing to help sponsor the initiative. Failure to do so could mean other cross-functional teams fail to get buy-in, miss business objectives, or run out of money before completion.

2. Silos Prevent Digital Transformation

One of the biggest obstacles to digital transformation is silos within an organization. Different teams are incentivized in different ways, operate in unique paradigms, and have unique histories with an organization. These factors can inhibit alignment and lead to apathy or even antagonism for a cross-functional project.

So it should be no surprise that in the The State of Digital Customer Experience Survey, the number one response to the question “what are your organization’s top three digital customer experience challenges” was “limited cross-department alignment.” More than 44% respondents chose this response, and another 44% selected the similar response ‘siloed systems.’

Still, the responses are a bit surprising. Digital leaders believe these initiatives are important and yet it’s not technology or lack of budget that’s stopping progress—it’s the organizational structure. This is a primary reason why having a strong, invested, engaged executive sponsor is imperative to digital transformation.

What This Means for You

Your company needs to ask itself several questions:

  • Why do our silos exist?
  • How can we break these silos down?
  • How can I incentivize everyone to work together?

These questions must be asked before any technology evaluation can begin because integrating even the best technology into a broken system will ultimately lead to failure.

3. Future Technology Remains in the Future

Most conferences, analyst reports, and marketing materials tend to focus on cutting edge features which will drive interactions in the future. For instance: the thousands of articles touting blockchain as the future of technology published hourly in early 2018 by futurists run amok. Instead, the attendees at DX Summit talked about solving today’s problems with tested technology.

Again, the CMSWire survey demonstrates this by highlighting that personalization was just the fifth most important area of investment for organizations. Other ‘cutting edge’ features that were lower on the list included;

  • AI
  • Social Listening
  • Blockchain (notably last on the list)

Meanwhile analytics, data management, and marketing automation were amongst the most important priorities. These priorities show a market that is still focused on getting the basics right before investing in further tools to segment the market.

One important note to further this point, many companies at the event still do not even feel they have a good understanding of their customer journey. Having this baseline information to create a digital customer experience that resonates with users is more important than delivering the latest capabilities in a scattershot fashion.

What This Means for You

It’s important to get the fundamentals right, before investing in ‘cutting edge’ technology. When evaluating a platform make sure it meets the needs of your internal constituents, offers a UI/UX that people love, and does not compromise on the fundamental requirements you need to deliver a great experience today.

Overall, DX Summit 2018 highlighted the important role digital transformation is playing in businesses today. From continued investment to increased executive buy-in the data shows that companies are continuing to invest in digital transformation as they seek to reach customers wherever they are, in whatever language they speak on the device they want to consume on.

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