Companies undertaking digital transformation seek to improve customer, employee and partner experiences. They build digital platforms to deliver the desired experience. My observation from working with many companies undergoing this endeavor is they often overlook the key factor necessary building an effective digital platform.
Studies show that 78 percent of digital transformations fail to deliver on their business objectives. At the core, they fail to create the customer or employee experience that is truly compelling on an issue that matters.
Identity is the often-overlooked key to building an effective digital platform. This is what is missing in many digital transformations.
It’s essential to recognize that a person – not a category – has an experience. To deliver a compelling experience, a company must understand the identity of the person it’s dealing with. It also must understand where that person is on the journey with the company. Unfortunately, many companies fall into the trap of thinking about people as categories or personas. They try to build market intelligence and try to anticipate the needs of a category of people. Think of the times where a company treated you as a class of people, not as an individual. You’ll quickly recall how frustrating that is.
To drive a compelling experience for an individual, the company needs information about the individual that fills in the full picture.
Let’s consider an example of a digital platform aimed at an employee. Typically, companies know employees by such designations as their job classification, seniority level or payroll level. All that is interesting, but it is insufficient to allow a company to create a great experience for the employee.
To create a great experience for the employee, the company must be able to anticipate that person’s needs. Therefore, it must understand who the person is (name, marriage status, whether the person has children and what kind of benefits the employee has). The company also needs to know if there a moment that matters (pregnancy, or a life-changing event going on). If there is, the company can then anticipate how to assist that person and provide a great experience.
The company needs to differentiate between moments that matter – things that are really important to get right – and things that are helpful but aren’t as important. It should invest money and create a digital platform that delivers a delightful experience that is truly helpful and impactful, presenting information on the person’s journey at that moment.
For example, A company shouldn’t confuse the needs of an employee who is expecting a child with an employee who is thinking through retirement. Yes, at some point the pregnant individual may think about retirement. But the company now needs to present options on maternity or paternity leave. And it can be helpful around providing access to the right healthcare alternatives and childcare options. This happens through the digital platform that can anticipate the person’s needs.
Yet, most systems treat an individual as a category, such as a level-four employee, rather than an expectant parent. Therefore, the company presents a lot of unhelpful information and is unable to anticipate the employee’s needs at that point in time.
Likewise, with customers, the company needs to understand who they are, what their specific issues are, what matters to them at a particular point in time. To deliver a delightful customer experience, it must then anticipate the customer’s next set of actions or needs and present options and necessary help as the customer moves forward on the journey.
The implications of how companies design digital platforms are profound. Building an effective platform starts with building a single source of truth about an individual. If a company wants to able to treat people as individuals with their unique identity, it needs to build a single repository or database about that individual. Having that information in disparate systems makes it impossible to recognize people as individuals, recognize where they are on their journey and anticipate their needs.
This single place that holds data on the identity of customers and employees is missing from many digital platforms that I’ve observed and worked with.
After building this single point of truth about the identity of an individual, the company then needs a tool (an AI module or rules-based system) that can identify the individual and his or her place on the journey. This allows the company to anticipate their needs and serve them through different interactions with them, whether it be mobile, call center, email, or in-person conversations. The company can be assured it will present the right set of information, options and assistance – that matters to the individual.