Digital Transformation is a change in thought and organizational culture- Nitin Sethi

Author: Nitin Sethi, Product Design, and User Experience specialist who believes in Design Thinking. These are his personal views based on his 17 years of professional and personal experience as a customer.

What is Digital Transformation?

In my opinion, digital transformation means solving problems for masses. It is making life easy and makes all services, products, schemes, and facilities available to all. We all call ourselves digitalized but in reality, we have not done even ten percent of the work in making our world digital yet. There is a huge canvas to be painted. We need to do a lot of work in solar, water, air, pollution, education, health, last mile commute, food, shelter available for underprivileged. Digitization can extend the reach of companies, improve management decisions, and speed the development of new products and services. While you are reading this, Digital transformation is happening everywhere.

Digital transformation is not just about embracing new technology, it is a change in thought and organizational culture. The customer in the broadest sense is a leading dimension in this equation with customer experience. The successful companies of today’s era are using digital technologies disruptively to alter existing models and market. Digital transformation is industry agnostic and starts with the business goals, challenges, customers and context of the organization.

Role of Design Thinking in Digital Transformation

Design Thinking is not “done” until the great experience is actually delivered to customers. It is a tool that helps you solve the trickiest of problems by keeping your users as the central focus. It is being used by some of the most innovative organizations around the world for solving customers and business problems. End-to-end customer experience optimization, operational flexibility, design thinking, and innovation are key drivers of digital transformation. The excessively rapid adoption of technologies can disrupt traditional business models by implementing design thinking. The three fundamental questions in the process of digital transformation, ‘why, what and how’ needs to be understood and agreed by all the stakeholders in the company and later can be simplified with the process of design thinking.

Design thinking helps only if you keep your ego aside and value the feedback, needs, and context of the user. Making a new project section in property portal which doesn’t work on mobile for a consumer is a suicidal act. Blackberry and WhatsApp case is a good example of losing the complete market to a competitor which has done better product execution after understanding customer needs and kept changing with time.

Competition has more to teach than you think. There is no better teacher than a dissatisfied customer. So, keep iterative approach while crafting your products. There are no right or wrong ways. Different segments require the different perspective. Value the importance of the data and measure the ROI by leading from the front. Also, there is a nothing called perfect product. Keep taking feedback and improve. The companies that have embraced design thinking and digital transformation are more profitable than their average industry competitors and enjoy a higher market valuation. Pepsi’s turnaround is a perfect example of product innovation through design thinking. Indra Nooyi turned design thinking into strategy.

Customer Experience

In most digital transformation projects, the customer experience and the user experience (both are different) take the center stage. Unable to identify and understand the right TG and unable to define the problem statement at a right time further adds complexity. However, the customer experience is a catalyst and driver of many digital transformation efforts across businesses.

The customer experience doesn’t belong to just one department and includes almost all stakeholders and touch points in the company. Digital transformation has become the ultimate challenge in change management because it impacts not only industry structures and strategic positioning but all levels of an organization. Nike and Starbucks have achieved the global growth in last decade through pure customer experience.

Role of Design and Technology

It was assumed that tech comes first and designers make tech consumable. But presently in most instances, design leads and tech follow. In my view, neither tech nor design comes first, the user comes first. We design the product with the help of tech to make the life easy. By keeping design thinking as a core practice, one can empathize with users and make lovable products/ platforms. YahooMail existed but Gmail disrupted the market. Orkut was the leader but Facebook came and killed it.

Digital transformation is imperative for all businesses whether they operate in B2B, B2C or C2C space, from an SME to the enterprise. It will look different for every company. Design Thinking requires organizations to continually challenge the status quo, experiment often, and get comfortable with failure and learn from it.

There are a number of reasons that a business may undergo the digital transformation, but by far, the most likely reason is that they have to. After all, It’s a survival issue for most companies. Technology has driven this shift, and companies that want to succeed must understand how to merge design and technology with strategy. Travel experience has been transformed by Airbnb and by balancing technology and design.

Bringing design thinking and digital transformation together

Design Thinking is the key to success while businesses are going through the digital transformation. Digital technologies and platforms have a pervasive influence on all areas of a corporation, from the impact on customer experience to enhanced productivity in operations and improvement in the way people collaborate within an organization. There is no option but not to do it. In the simplified and direct way, this is the only way business can survive, grow, and digitally transformed.

I believe in the survival of the fittest in a new design first digital world. The new age digital economy goes beyond technology, triggering a new wave of transformation in the way business leaders and organizations do business and win customers. With the help of design thinking, one can deliver winning strategies by harnessing the power of this new digital economy. Walt Disney and Apple are classic case studies to go through in detail and learn. The perfect balance between disruption and incremental changes with time to keep the market-leading product experience. Leading business commitment to deliver significant improvements in value, performance, and delivery to the consumer in the value chain can be achieved only by embracing design thinking at a core level in the organization.