‘Digital’ is the buzzword now across all walks of life. From the government to the local shops – everyone is on the digital reinvention path. But there is lot of fuzz around the term ‘Digital’ and reinventing your process. Aren’t we digital at present considering that we are using a smart phone to do our banking transactions? Hasn’t the local kiranas digitally reinvented themselves by accepting PayTm payments? So then why are we talking about digital reinvention as a big thing which is yet to happen? Hasn’t it happened already? While I accept that varying degrees of digitization have been achieved by various organizations, the possibilities to reinvent digitally is enormous in most of the sectors with the present technological advancement and hence the talk about reinvention. With further evolution of technology, the concept of digital will get redefined further, so changes will be a constant thing to expect in the Digital market.
So let’s define the phrase ‘Digital’ first.
I define ‘Digital Reinvention’ as a change that enables you to get a better consumer experience with reduced effort or inputs from the consumer (or the associated stakeholders).
So the final digitized state will give you a superior experience while making you lazier. For example, if tomorrow a bank enables you to open a bank account by just getting your finger print, then that’s digital reinvention. In this case, the process of you submitting identification proofs and filling forms etc. are fulfilled by the technology tools which gets all required data from Aadhar repository. Consider a case where a farmer who goes to his fields every morning and then water the plants based on the current water level – if we can implement an IoT sensor (Internet-of-Things) to identify the water level and then start watering automatically from the water supply, then that’s also digital reinvention. In both these cases, consumer experience has elevated to a new level of comfort. The fact that all of these digital advancements makes us comfortable or lazier is an intended side effect.
As the market is moving to advanced stages of digitization, very interesting use cases are shaping up which we could have never imagined few years ago. By all probability these new use cases for digital reinvention from diverse industries will be driven by technology leaders in the market and this will be led by Consultants from those firms. Based on some sessions I attended recently with my company (most of the thoughts penned here are from those discussions), a leader in Digital Technology, I believe that for digital reinvention to work – the consultant community should change their thought levers and reinvent themselves. I believe all of us must embrace this reinvention journey sooner than later to stay relevant in market and hence this blog.
1. Are you focused on client needs? Start embracing the end consumer experience as your own
Life of consultant earlier days used to be more of understanding the client needs in depth and then designing solutions around it. However the digital reinvention projects demand you to go beyond the client and understand the experience of the end consumer, who ultimately drives the top line of the client. So if you have a eCommerce client, then think from the perspective of the online shoppers of that firm. All such consulting engagements should ideally be driven by ‘experience based design thinking’ methodology, wherein the consultant will drive his thoughts basis consumer journey maps to understand the emotional touch points of the consumer while using the products or services of your company. To understand the customer experience better, Consultants will need to go at the ground level and face it firsthand – which gives us subtle but impactful insights for solving the focus issue.
Assume that you are consultant for a Bank and they are looking to ramp up the CASA deposit base through digital initiatives like Aadhar KYC etc. Then ideally you should be able to visualize the experience differentiation that the digital innovation is going to bring to the bank customers.
2. Are you specialized in an industry? Understand that Industry barriers are blurring
The focus on consumer experience also opens up avenue for reusing alternate industry solutions, as applicable, which provide similar experience outputs and this may have the potential to disrupt clients’ existing business model also.
For example – one of our favorite old time companion for capturing priceless moments in our lives used to be Kodak. However Kodak failed to take note of the pain points in customer experience – carrying around the camera separately in daily lives, when you never know when a Kodak moment actually happens before you. Exactly that pain point is what smartphones with good pixel cameras have solved for the consumers. Today Kodak has turned away from its old products into corporate imaging solutions and is even launching its own smartphone products. How different it would have been had we got consultants using ‘experience based design thinking’ back in the golden days of Kodak. Similar challenge is given to the travel sector by Skype and so on. So industry doesn’t matter, it’s the best customer experience that matters.
3. Are you that PPT wizard? Move from PPT’s to Agile prototypes
Consultants are infamous for playing at the 30,000 feet level and in many cases they are known as creatures who give solutions at that high level which while implementing gives totally disparate challenges. So we need to move more into a mode of minimum presentations and maximum prototyping which can give a reality check for clients. Companies of the likes of IBM, Accenture etc. have gone ahead creating client experience centers which can showcase prototypes for the end products during sales phase itself, which can keep all stakeholders realistic about the final outcome. For e.g., if your plan is to build a mobile app for the end consumer – make its prototype and show it to the client to give them a feel of what’s coming.
4. Do you use standard framework and tools in Consulting? Foster an open and experimentation mindset
Most of the problems that consultants will be expected to solve in this era will be of unstructured nature – problems which could demand multi-disciplinary thinking and which would demand several rounds of trial & error before hitting the solution. A traditional problem solving and formula method will not work for most of these occasions and hence the consultant’s ability to try out multiple options, without wearing out, will be key to achieving the end objective. Also, ability to develop a peer network to enhance vicarious learning and to get references will be a differentiator.
5. Have you alienated from other companies in market? Understand the ecosystem players in the Market
Owing to the unstructured nature of the problems to be solved, it’s highly possible that solution components available from players belonging to multiple disciplines will need to be combined to achieve an end goal. So understanding the ecosystem of players and differentiating your collaborators from competitors will play a role in your success as a consultant. This ecosystem is already changing the existing market dynamics in many sectors and is giving a big stage for all the innovative startups coming up in the market. We traditionally had thought about organic and inorganic growth – now we have ecosystem growth evolving in the market.
6. Do you think that you are a certified expert? Fast pace your learning hat
Most of us have seen the transition from traditional to the digital era. While this transition experience gives you a better view for approaching the new Era, it becomes a hindrance if we do not up-skill ourselves to the new skills demands in the market at a very past pace. Accessibility to learning resources have increased manifold with the diverse MOOC options in place. Web resources like www.codecademy.com, coursera and so on have made learning any new technology a matter of few days, with its highly advanced interactive learning console. Future holds value for what we can ‘Do’ than what we are ‘Qualified’ for. So gone are the days when we could have told “I am a consultant and not a technology guy” – Technology will be a default skill expected in future. Interviews are set to be more of practicals than mere talking and for this reason I believe more opportunities will open for contractors than full time employees – who will later be absorbed to companies basis skill, aptitude & attitude match.
Market is changing and we need to reinvent ourselves to make the world a better experience for everyone. Digital is bringing an integrated life experience all around us. Good luck in adapting to it !!!