Customers now view mobile application capabilities as ubiquitous – if yours doesn’t have a function they want, they will leave.
The scope of your customer’s mind-space within a digital application is not as confined as it may first appear. When developing the functional fit for your digital interface you will be surprised at just how broad the landscape is that you are competing against. What was previously a neatly defined functional requirement has suddenly become a much more open field of capability that you must address or be labelled superfluous.
In the (recent) past we have seen and heard the hew and cry around the need for businesses to ‘digitally transform’.
Indeed, DB Results has been a part of the clamouring of voices in the consulting world adding to the wall of sound around this. We have been extolling our customers to be ‘agile’, ‘lean’, ‘fast adopters’ and ‘customer focused’ – to break the incumbent ways of thinking and adopt new ways of working.
Our current work at several customers represents a very good microcosm of many of the aspects of the ‘new normal’ that we are assisting with instilling into organisations.
Within these engagements, our mixed DB Results and customer teams are meeting and solving the challenges that exist in the complex digital world. We are assisting our customers with addressing the realisations that many of the competitors that they encounter are contenders who are mainly technology-based, and not from the traditional competition spaces.
And herein lies an inherent discontinuity in the ways that organisations think about digital transformation.
Businesses today want to be the best company for their customers: to be receptive, adaptive, customer-focused and online. To offer the best customer experience around. To beat all their competitors, in both what they offer and being first to offer it.
The problem is that their competitors are no longer just their traditional industry members.
Their competitor is now every other online and mobile application and facility that their customers use.
A recent New York Times technology review offers a different aspect of this phenomenon:
“There’s an important lesson in there [the demise of print media] about how technology shifts come from people whose brains are unencumbered by the things that used to work so well. Henry Ford was a machinist, not a blacksmith. He didn’t care that there was something immensely satisfying about a well-shod horse. Jeff Bezos was a quant, not a bookseller.”
This aspect of the new normal represents a real challenge for incumbents within traditionally corralled business spaces. What are these traditional spaces? They include print media, banking & allied financial services (such as investment, superannuation, insurance, wealth management), utilities & services, telecommunications, trade & commerce, government services, health & medicine, and especially FMCG.
Every time a new feature is released in an application that facilitates a better customer engagement by enhancing the user’s ability to interact naturally with the application; making it easier to conduct an individual, specific transaction; increasing the enjoyment of interacting with the application; and more closely annealing the user’s identity to the application, then that new feature sets the benchmark for the user’s perceived experience across all other applications, regardless of the context of those other applications. It increases the expectation factor that the user will employ to judge other applications.
When an application releases the “things near me” function that makes it easier for you to find where a specific item of interest is located, such as an ATM/ice cream parlour/restaurant/bar/taxi rank/public toilet/whatever, then the need to use a separate application for this function diminishes. So now applications routinely include Google Maps plugins to visually display the items that are of contextual interest to the user. As a direct result, the separate use of the Google Maps application is diminished.
Consider: if you asked a person 10 years ago if they would contact a stranger to pick them up from an address, drive them across town in a private car, deposit them at a different location, and do this all for a negotiated fee that is paid electronically – and it was not a regulated taxi – they would have laughed at you. But that is now the norm. All conducted via a smartphone using an application that nobody delivered a day’s training on to show how to install, configure or use the application.
That is the experience that the organisations undertaking a digital transformation are fighting for to stay relevant within their niche sector – not the competing applications from their industry cohort. So, remember that the term ‘digital transformation’ for our customers is no longer restricted to the specific business applications and their individual functional context, but has been widened to the context of all of the users’ applications, in all their various forms.