Leading The Digital Business Revolution: notes and video


Yesterday Martin Gill, VP & principal analyst at Forrester Research Inc., and Alun Williams, European digital director at TUI Travel, joined Brilliant Noise’s Antony Mayfield for a webinar to discuss what it takes to be a customer-first digital business. You’ll find a video of the full webinar at the bottom of the page.

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Martin Gill got things started by explaining Forrester’s perspective on the digital business revolution.

He explained that while some newer businesses like Amazon are born digital, older businesses are having to adapt. Some, like Burberry, are embracing digital wholeheartedly and achieving digital mastery. Others have had digital thrust upon them, and are struggling to keep up with pace of change.

Martin used the analogy of the fall of the Berlin Wall to explain the challenges businesses are facing in bringing about their own “digital revolutions”. The wall in question is the mentality that sees digital and customer experience siloed as someone else’s responsibility. To break down the wall, lots of people need to join in by seeing digital as part of what they do, regardless of the part of the organisation in which they work.

To lead a digital revolution, Martin said that you need to create a digital vision. He suggested the following steps to do so:

1. Create the conditions for transformations, by:

  • Consolidating under a single customer-focused leader
  • Organising around the customer
  • Embedding digital skills and competencies
  • Embracing cross-functional, agile ways of working.

2. Master the three essential digital skills:

  • Strategic – set and communicate digital strategy.
  • Transformational – manage digital change.
  • Operational – operate and optimise digital touchpoints.

Martin ended by warning that if you try to start a digital revolution you should ‘prepare to get a bloody nose’ as people will inevitably feel threatened by this kind of radical change.

Next Antony talked about how we support our clients in the process of digital transformation at Brilliant Noise.

Digital can’t just be a bolt-on to an existing business. Digital transformation is cultural change on a grand scale. It requires leaders to reinvent themselves so that they can in turn reinvent the organisations they work for. It’s a big ask, but the best leaders manage it.

Not everything leaders do needs to change – good leadership is still good leadership. However, there is a 10% that does need to change and be reinvented to bring around a digital revolution.

Creating a digital leadership mindset has three parts:

  1. Leading yourself – building threshold knowledge, creating an example of change.
  2. Leading others – spreading the digital mindset, encouraging collaboration.
  3. Leading organisations – having a clear vision, creating a flexible culture that’s open to change.

Antony described some of the things Brilliant Noise works on with senior executives in workshops and coaching sessions to help develop their own digital mindset:

  • Personal development – developing your own skills to guide others.
  • Agile innovation – being willing to ‘move fast and break things’ and have a start-up mentality.
  • Digital customers – truly understanding the journeys your customers take and how they interact with your brand.
  • Trends – using trends mapping to understand customers in a framework that lets you prioritise resources.

He concluded with three starting points for digital transformation he’s seen in client companies and case research:

  1. Lead – setting vision, tone and pace
  2. Pilot – exploring and testing new ideas.
  3. Scale – expanding ideas and continuously improving.

Finally, Alun spoke about TUI Travel’s experience of digital revolution. The company is 50 years old and has a traditional background (some current members of staff still remember writing sales on a chalkboard in the office) but it is embracing digital disruption.

Until recently, digital was seen as e-commerce at TUI . Online is a superb channel for distribution for TUI and so it focused, naturally enough, on selling. Ecommerce is still a large part of what the company does, but TUI  is now working on the premise that digital is about more than sales. Digital is increasingly about brands, which are being defined by their customers’ online experiences of them. Providing a great user experience is absolutely essential – bad UX equals a broken brand.

Changing how people think is also an essential part of digital transformation. TUI is putting digital and customer experience first by encouraging staff to ask: ‘How does my part of the chain affect the experience customers have online?’

The webinar finished leaving us all wishing we had more time to discuss the issues raised! We’d love to hear your thoughts or answer any questions you might have – so either leave a comment, or get in touch.

Image credit: nanagyei