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Surely you are aware of the fact that your company needs to keep up with the latest digital developments. Jeroen van den Nieuwenhof, Managing Director at Accenture Digital, relays valuable tips and tricks for those who want to get started. ‘Let other companies inspire you.’

This article was originally published on fd.nl (in Dutch)

A few years back, airline Transavia set out to become the best European digital airline. Transavia approached Accenture to help them optimize their e-commerce channels rather radically. Long story short: these days, new technologies have ensured the optimal customer journey for Transavia’s millions of customers. Resulting in a 200% increase in online check-ins, a 25% surge in the number of digital visitors and – last but not least – a 20% rise in sales.

‘It’s one of the many examples of what digital transformation can help companies achieve. Digital transformation is all about utilizing a number of innovative technological developments, including social media, big data and mobile trends,’ says Van den Nieuwenhof. He highlights three crucial types of digital transformation.

‘The first is the kind of transformation that leads to a revolutionary change in your customer relations and an increase in sales, much like the Transavia example.They revolve around the relations companies have traditionally maintained offline (e.g. physical stores, TV, radio and telephone), that have now migrated online. Needless to say, this affects your customers’ expectations: they want instant satisfaction.'

'The second movement is all about implementing new technologies that streamline internal processes and reduce costs. For instance, take an on-site engineer solving a complex mechanical problem through the assistance of a colleague, who isn’t physically present. It goes without saying that this particular job is done significantly quicker and, thus, more cost-effectively.’

The latest trend in digital transformation

However, it’s the third and latest trend in digital transformation that’s more likely to offer the most opportunities. ‘The third trend encompasses entirely new business models,’ explains Van den Nieuwenhof. ‘Current technology allows companies to offer customers products and services they weren’t able to before, meaning they can achieve a whole new level of customer service. Let’s consider the “connected toothbrush” – a toothbrush that operates via WiFi and monitors everything its user does: the number of brushstrokes, the intensity of the activity and the actual cleaning time. Just think of the possibilities having all this information offers the manufacturer – they are endless. They can provide pointers for better brushing or seek partnerships with dentists or medical insurance companies, for instance. The business model no longer only hinges on just the product, but around all services involved.’

Three essential criteria for successful implementation

Virtually all companies are aware of the fact that the digital transformation offers numerous opportunities. ‘Everybody knows how relevant it is, yet the real question for many organizations comes down to how to best implement the transformation. It’s important to reiterate that the digital transformation consists of the three aforementioned facets:

  1. improved customer relationships,
  2. more efficient internal processes, and
  3. new business models.

My advice would be to tackle all three simultaneously and not consecutively. Inspiration is all around us: just look at what other companies are doing.’

Van den Nieuwenhof turns to another inspiring example: that of a large Dutch car lease company. ‘Besides cars, the company also rents out industrial machinery – a very traditional market. Bear in mind that leasing is a very complex process that requires many steps before the lease contract is signed. Just think of assessing the solvency of the potential customer, sending documents back and forth, etc. For a customer to drop out at any time during this process, which can take a few months, is quite common. They can opt for a different company or just make alternate plans. Especially when you know that customers these days are used to insurance companies making it possible to take out an online insurance policy with a few clicks. Accenture and this lease company are now working to drastically speed up these steps in order to seal the deal quicker. It’s a typical example of a company that has been running processes and operations in the same way for many years, but has already benefitted from increased energy, creativity and opportunities thanks to digital transformation.’

© Het Financieele Dagblad

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