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Sunday, April 2, 2017 - 09:45

On 24th March 2017 the team here at Symphony3 held a Digital Symposium at Space & Co, in Melbourne CBD with a select group of our clients. The group comprised clients from sectors including construction, professional services, member associations, tourism and local government. There was representation from a range of positions including CEOs, IT Managers, General Managers, Marketing Managers and Administration Officers.

All attendees are (at the time of writing) involved in the development of a digital roadmap. Each organisation is at a different stage of implementation. In this context, the day was an opportunity for clients to share their learnings and challenges as they each pursue their own unique digital journey.

While each sector faces different challenges, what was most interesting to many attendees were the similarities in terms of the digital challenges and opportunities that they observed in industries totally different to their own. Likewise, it was fascinating for us to hear our clients articulating this.

8 things we observed from our clients on the day

  1. Digital is fundamental to improving the customer relationship. Irrespective of the products or services delivered, digital is fundamental to better relationships with the customer. Across every sector customers’ preference to engage in digital channels shows no sign of abating. Likewise, their dissatisfaction with poor digital services continues to grow.

  2. Simple digital service delivery can have a massive impact. In every sector, simple digital services that are easy to use and executed well can make a massive difference to the customer experience. Time and again the benefits accrued from online forms were extolled. A local government client displayed their online kindergarten enrolment form in one presentation and the response from one attendee summed up the sentiment of customers towards digital services: “I would have loved it if my council could have provided me with this when my kids were at that age. It would have made my life so much easier!”. Linda Nadge, from Outback Astronomy talked about how customers from all over the world love that they can book a sky show online, months in advance of them arriving in Australia. Barry Corr, of the Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce, commented on how being able to save draft online forms ensures mentees in his mentoring programme have a convenient application process even though they must provide lots of information online. The list of examples of clients delivering value to customers went on and on, and we know that almost all our clients are investigating putting many more of their simple processes online, most often using online forms.

  3. Single Customer View. Although websites (and social media and apps) provide convenient touch points for customers and are increasingly their preferred channel, customers still want to have a variety of channels available to them and don’t necessarily distinguish between any of them. The customer experience runs across multiple channels and customer satisfaction depends on how seamless the experience is across every channel. To deliver a better experience, an organisation must be capable of seeing every interaction a customer has with the business and the relationships that develop in various channels. Capturing these interactions via Customer Relationship Management (CRM) technologies is vital to delivering a seamless experience. Once every interaction is captured and stored in the one place staff have the information required to understand and improve the customer experience. This also enables the business to understand the cost of servicing each customer, and these insights can be used to cut costs in some areas while also increasing resources in others.

  4. Driving organisation-wide cultural change is a challenge. Some clients observed that while they had highly engaged digital project teams and that other sections of their organisation were highly engaged, in almost every business there were departments and areas of the business that were refusing to change. In some cases, people in the business were not only resisting, but actively making change difficult for the rest of the organisation. While acknowledging that diffusion theory dictates that this will nearly always be the case, for some it didn’t minimise the frustration of having to deal with the laggards and late majority!

  5. Leadership. There was some interesting discussion around digital leadership. Vision and trust were repeatedly mentioned as important traits for digital leaders to demonstrate. A CEO needn’t to be tech savvy but it was important he or she provided staff with a vision of where the organisation was headed and was prepared to lead the way. When the vision was articulated it was important that the CEO put trust in their appointed digital team to deliver the change. Acknowledging and accepting that failure is part of the digital process and trusting that failure ultimately leads to success was difficult for some CEOs and senior managers to acknowledge.

  6. The need for clarity and visibility. CEOs need to provide vision. In reverse, staff running digital initiatives must provide their leaders with clear next steps and visibility. This is where a clear roadmap becomes essential. A roadmap identifies the effort that is required by everyone. It outlines how and when benefits will accrue. It means resourcing implications are identified early (as per the next point below).

  7. Resourcing. There was some interesting discussion around resourcing digital initiatives. More than one person spoke of how the person in their organisation holding the purse strings is often under the impression that "digital" is a project with a definite start and end. Often digital project officers are given money for a distinct project (or the financial year) but ongoing resources are not countenanced by the finance director.  It can be very difficult to explain to some CEOs and Finance Directors that they must resource digital on an ongoing basis just in order to keep up to date. Revert to item 6 and the need for a roadmap! Our clients have obviously bought into the open source movement and like the fact that resources can be shared across organisations, and licensing costs can be eliminated in many cases. However, this does not mean ongoing resourcing is not required.

  8. Skills. Finding and keeping digital and web services skills is an ongoing challenge. Ensuring skills are spread across multiple employees is important to mitigate risk. Many of our attendees have resolved to work together to share skills and knowledge. Integration, digital marketing and social media skills are in demand and difficult to find. Industry in general is disappointed that Australia's third level institutions are not teaching students the skills that are required in today's businesses.

Do you agree or disagree with what our clients think? Do you see the same dynamics playing out in your organisation? We’d love to hear your experiences.

Our next Digital Symposium will take place on Friday the 13th of October 2017. If you would like to participate please get in touch. Online booking will be available to existing clients closer to the event.

More clients we have worked with.