Flexibility Becomes a Digital Experience Advantage

Image credit: iStockphoto/ilkercelik

The digital experience is more important than ever in today's business landscape. Customers expect seamless, personalized interactions with brands, and companies must be able to deliver to stay competitive. But what does it take to create a truly great digital experience?

At a recent CDOTrends virtual roundtable in partnership with Sitecore, digital, IT, and marketing leaders from around the Asia Pacific region shared their insights on digital experience trends. They also looked at the current state of play and what companies need to do to take their digital experiences to the next level.

One of the key themes that emerged from the discussion was the importance of modularity and flexibility in digital experience platforms. To meet customers' ever-changing needs, companies must be able to quickly and easily adapt their digital offerings. This is where a composable platform makes a difference.

The digital experience as a non-negotiable

The customer experience is everything. It has become the primary differentiator between brands, and customers increasingly demand more personalized, convenient, and seamless experiences.

At the same time, the digital landscape is constantly evolving, said Yvonne Loh, regional vice president for Southeast Asia at Sitecore. She noted that businesses must keep up with the latest changes to remain competitive. This made the digital experience no longer a nice to have; it became non-negotiable.

Companies with a forward-thinking digital experience approach already see the benefits. One participant from the banking sector shared how their experience with introducing fintech services had been a real game-changer in terms of how they engage with customers.

Because of the challenges they faced while introducing new approaches and fintech solutions, they tried to be a fintech themselves and created their channel capability with a focus on mobile users. This allowed them to improve their digital experience and build an open platform that other players in their ecosystem could use.

To truly transform the business, participants agreed that there should be buy-in from all levels of the organization and not just rely on top-down mandates. This is because a digital experience requires a complete rethinking of how businesses operate, and this can only be done with the support of senior management.

However, some panelists noted that buy-in from the top was still crucial. It allowed companies to break down silos, overcome legacy systems, and create a great digital experience for all.

The future is modular

The future of business is modular. This was a point that Sitecore’s Loh reiterated, and several participants echoed. She also noted that companies must quickly and easily adapt their digital offerings to meet the ever-changing needs of customers.

According to Gartner, a composable platform comprises interchangeable building blocks. It allowed companies to rearrange and reorient as needed, depending on external (or internal) factors, such as a shift in customer values or a sudden change in the supply chain.

A Gartner report added that a composable business prepares companies for multiple futures by "decoupling applications, data, and processes from each other and the underlying infrastructure." As a result, companies could quickly and easily adapt their systems as needs change.

Loh noted that a modular and composable approach also allowed companies to experiment and try out new ideas without completely rebuilding their systems from scratch. This was a much more agile way of doing business and was well-suited to the constantly changing digital landscape.

To create a truly modular and composable platform, companies must clearly understand their ecosystem and the different players within it. They also need to quickly and easily integrate new services and applications.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, companies that focused on efficiency suddenly became vulnerable. This is because they were unprepared for a future in which their customers' needs would change dramatically, said one participant.

However, smart companies pivoted to a more modular setup, creating a composable business. This allowed them to quickly and easily adapt their offerings to meet the changing needs of their customers.

Power to the people

It is essential to empower the people within the organization to transform companies and prepare them for the future. For Sitecore’s Loh, this meant giving employees the tools and training they needed to use new technologies effectively.

She added that it was also vital to create a culture of innovation, where employees were encouraged to experiment and try new ideas. This was the only way companies can keep up with the ever-changing digital landscape.

One participant from a Malaysian conglomerate shared that their successful digital journey was because of a roadmap they laid out and followed. This allowed them to clearly understand where they wanted to be, what their end goals were, and what they needed to do to get there.

But he also emphasized that it was not just about having a roadmap; it was also about engaging with the business and its people to ensure everyone was on the same page. It was where the mindset change comes into play.

For their part, the bank trained 25% of their employees in Power BI in one year alone. As a result, employees were more empowered to make data-driven decisions, and the company improved its digital experience as a result.

Another bank participant said that going digital in his industry meant that employees must also understand the new responsibilities that come with the transformation. And while they were allowed to fail, the business must control the rate at which they are allowed to make mistakes.

For example, security was no longer just the responsibility of the IT department; it was everyone's responsibility. This meant that employees must be trained to identify and mitigate potential risks. A simple mistake could have a substantial financial impact in the banking industry, so it was important to get it right.

In this regard, regulatory environments have a crucial role to play. To stay ahead of the curve, companies need to clearly understand the regulatory environment and what changes are on the horizon. They also need to be able to adapt quickly and pivot when necessary. But on the other hand, regulators also need to be more open to new ideas and approaches, providing guidelines and policies that enable innovation instead of stifling it.

Managing digital-empowered enthusiasm

A culture of innovation, where a composable business is the way to go, can only be created if companies have a customer-first perspective. This means that the customer's needs should always be at the forefront of any decision-making process.

All too often, companies make decisions that are not in the best interests of their customers. This is because they are focused on short-term gains instead of long-term success. To create a great digital experience, companies need to take a step back and consider what their customers want and need.

One participant highlighted that as soon as employees were empowered, leaders must be prepared to respond to their enthusiasm. For example, leaders should take it upon them to remind employees of the customer's needs. The participant added that in his company, they always ask employees two questions: "How can we make it more relevant?" and "How can we make it better?"

In the case of personalization, it is essential to remember that not all customers want the same thing. So, companies need to find the right balance between offering too much and too little choice. The goal should be to provide customers with the right mix of products and services that meet their individual needs.

Sitecore’s Loh highlighted that personalization is not the problem but rather the lack of understanding of what customers want. This is where data comes into play. According to her, data could help businesses understand what their customers were looking for and how they could provide them with the best possible experience.

Conclusion

Agility, customer focus, and innovation are the three critical ingredients for success in the digital age. Businesses need to clearly understand these concepts to create a great digital experience for their customers. They also need to be able to adapt quickly and pivot when necessary. With the opportunities of a modular and composable business, the sky is the limit.

Image credit: iStockphoto/ilkercelik