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Digital Transformation: Are We On The Right Track?

Tarun Bali, AVP Technology, The Body Shop India

Tarun is an omnichannel evangelist currently working for Quest Retail Group (The Bodyshop, Kiehl's, & Boddess) in the India and South Asia markets as AVP & Head of IT.

‘Digital Transformation’ is one of those buzzwords whose original meaning has gotten lost in translation, yet it's evident that effective technology use is more important than ever before.

Adopting technology for the sake of it isn't the goal of the digital transformation. Going digital is a long term strategy that should make a company ‘more agile’ where it matters, allowing it to focus on innovation and experience to build frictionless and seamless shopping journeys across channels.

Traditional marketing tactics like mass targeting and siloes business operations are no longer effective. Instead, clients should be treated as individuals, with relevant offers delivered at their preferred time, location, and channel based on their region, behavior, and purchasing history. While retail consumers grumble about distinct offers for online customers, most of the online buyers find it frustrating that the digital support alternatives are not as good as physical support.

Many corporate leaders, on the other hand, regard digital transformation as only a question of

implementing new technologies while overlooking the human aspects of the process. As a result, sometimes the technology team took over ownership of the project from conception to completion, while the business team loses insights and becomes unable to adjust and adopt new systems.

To make it successful, it is important for the business team to lead the project from the front, aligning internal processes and workforces with new trends through more rigorous training, commitments and ownerships. The main difference between success and failure is cross-functional and technical team planning and coordination.

To eliminate internal inefficiencies and working boundaries, everyone from the top down should take ownership and responsibility for creating a boundary-free, seamless, and frictionless experience for end customers.

The Human Angle:
As retailers struggle to transform their entire business to become more customer centric, personnel management becomes a key battle ground in the fight to elevate customer service from ‘the expected’ to ‘the difference’. While payroll is the most controlled expense, the complexities of managing in store workers might appear overwhelming at times. Humans provide the necessary creativity, skill, and invention that computers lack. As a result, it is people, not technology, who develop products for better experience. Whatever knowledge you impart to the system, it will act and adapt accordingly.

Businesses succeed not because of creative products, but because of company culture which can continually identify problems, take feedback, and collaborate across departments to accomplish ‘business purpose and objective’ that can be translated into customer experience and, eventually, income stream.

How to achieve this?
Rather than focusing on major milestones when migrating, firms should employ an agile strategy to generate smaller pieces of alterations and enhancements while engaging with functional departments. Instead of depending on technology teams to drive their strategy, everyone should grasp the digital ecosystem and make product success with fastest turn around. Furthermore, automation demands more severe monitoring and upgrading owing to changing customer behavior and trends, and it cannot be left alone to make decisions.

The Bottom Line:
Digital transformation does not entail a comprehensive technological revolution across all functions; rather, if smaller stepping stones have been achieved, you are on the right approach in achieving your end goals.

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