Founder/Director LifeWIRE CorpCEO Nova Insights, Strategic Advisor, HealthIT/Communication innovator, storyteller.
“Digital Transformation” is one of the buzzwords of 2022, but it is also one of the least successful strategies of recent years. The idea of moving to a more innovative, digital approach to a business seems like a natural step in our digital age, especially after the pandemic. But the evidence suggests it was a dismal failure. Look no further than a report noting that digital transformation was in tech-focused industries less than 30% successful† In more traditional industries, such as automotive and pharmaceuticals, success was only between 4% and 11%.
What is digital transformation?
Digital transformation can best be described as the adoption of digital technology as a replacement for analog processes in an organization. This transformation can be a one-time or an ongoing process and can include everything from automating an order process to simply using an app to make an appointment. The net goal is to create value for businesses, industries and society through ease of use, automating manual processes and centralizing data collection.
It sounds rather mechanical and is implemented that way for the most part. A fundamental problem is to treat the process as an IT exercise, but an effective digital transformation must enable a company’s ecosystem by involving all key stakeholders. These stakeholders are those people both externally and internally of an organization, including the customers. In short, digital transformation must be humanized to be effective.
Unfortunately, there are many cases where the “human” side of the process is naturally (paywall) or treated as an afterthought. Given its proximity to the pharmaceutical industry, I will take healthcare as an example. In this industry, the patients and those involved in the process should be those who benefit from the transformation, such as health care providers, nurses, lab technicians, etc. But the transformation process is often designed without consulting these people, and the “tech lace is bolted on with no tangible strategy for use in conjunction with the organization’s existing workflows. It essentially follows a strategy of, “If you build it, they will come,” without regard for whether those who come can effectively use what has been built.
How are stakeholder experiences impacting digital transformation?
In healthcare, patients no longer see great caregiver outcomes as a key differentiator over other healthcare providers; great results are expected. Instead, they consider their overall experience from start to finish. A client stuck between frozen computer screens while trying to make an appointment will become increasingly frustrated. Likewise, what is the experience of the teams within the organization? If they have to make 42 clicks just to enter a last name, that doesn’t bode well for a long-term employee.
The key to effective digital transformation is to understand that the technology implemented only begins to have value when it is used and is more likely to be used if stakeholders are involved at the earliest possible design stages. To design effective digital transformation processes, the entire patient journey and their points of connection and interaction must be considered. This means looking at every touchpoint, from the customer wanting to use a service to using the service and solving their need. Using a medical appointment as an example, a patient’s travel card could have the following contact points:
• Outreach (phone, app or portal).*
• Travel to the appointment.
• Meeting with the tech or clinician.*
• Service Payment.*
• Parking payment.*
• Traveling home.
At every point there is a patient (external customer) connection to your services. For those elements with an asterisk behind them, at least one member of the healthcare organization (internal customer) is also involved. This patient journey therefore contains at least nine points of contact for all those involved. These connection points are more commonly known as “moments of truth” and are essential to understanding customers and their experiences. Unless all of them are addressed in the design of this healthcare organization’s digital transformation, every point presents a challenge to a good patient or employee experience.
Between the ever-expanding number of options patients have for different healthcare providers and the so-called Great Resignation that causes employees to leave unsatisfactory work situations more quickly, there is a greater risk than ever of losing one or both of these stakeholders with a poorly designed digital transformation. Many organizations do not understand this, nor do they understand their customer’s needs or who they are. Even the understanding they do have is unlikely to be fully incorporated into their formal digital transformation process.
How can you integrate customer experiences into your transformation?
So, how do you measure something like that and understand where you are to incorporate the data into the process? The first step is to determine what to measure. This can be divided into five categories:
• External/Internal customer satisfaction.
• External/internal involvement.
The next question is: how can you measure these statistics? The trick here is to turn these somewhat intangible concepts into tangible information that you can apply to your process. This can be done through surveys of your own organization and the respective stakeholders, creating a number of key performance indicators (KPIs) that can be turned into actionable data. There are a number of KPI measures that can be used. For example, you can:
• Create your own way to measure internally.
• Use specific third-party measurement tools for each element, such as a net promoter score†
• Use a comprehensive measurement, such as a customer experience maturity tool†
At the heart of any successful digital transformation are people; they are customers, but they are also emotional, easily frustrated people. Unless taken into account as part of the digital transformation process at the earliest stages, any technology implemented as a shortcut to human interaction could result in a lot of investment that ends up in the digital dump.