3 ways enterprises are adapting to digital-first experiences, and the key to getting there fast

Nicole Nearhood on November 5th 2020

Zoom with margin

This year at CDP Week—Segment’s premier conference for data-driven experts—three digital transformation experts discussed the critical need for enterprises to reinvent how they create digital experiences.

The panel featured Rob Fuller, Digital Solution Architect, Principal Director at Accenture Interactive, Noah Rosenberg, Director of Digital Growth at WWT Digital, and Rio Longacare, Managing Director of Customer Strategy & Martech, at Slalom Consulting. Each of these experts brought a unique perspective from having worked with dozens of the world’s largest enterprises through the transition to digital. 

Along with advice on crossing the chasm and building digital experience, they described attributes that the most successful digital enterprises share. Here are the attributes that the experts say every enterprise must have:

1. Focus on your north star, but stay agile along the way

For long-established enterprises, digital transformation can be a daunting, complex task. Enduring businesses have an established playbook for the physical world, so moving into the unknown of the digital world can feel overwhelming. 

On top of that, the martech landscape is incredibly complex; there are thousands of tools available that promise digital acceleration. Even worse, any lack of alignment internally around the ultimate digital experience you’re trying to create for customers can cause further confusion.

All three digital transformation experts agreed that if you know what you’re trying to achieve and you remain agile in your journey, you can successfully tap into digital experiences. Rio Longacare at Slalom stated:

Truly being digital is being agile, moving quickly, not being afraid to make some mistakes, [and] making changes where you need to. That’s the core of digital transformation. [...] if you have this mentality, you’ll catch up quickly...It's never too late to adopt that mindset...Assuming you have a north star and know where you’re going, you can do it.

Rio Longacare, Slalom Consulting

2. Know your customers

Many enterprises have refined sales and marketing engines for the offline world. But managing relationships digitally is a completely different practice and scale. You need to know a customer base you might never meet in person. You need to understand their buying habits, preferences, and their customer journey quickly and accurately enough to predict or motivate their next move. This is a hard skill to master, but a critical step toward success. Rob, from Accenture Interactive shared: 

It really comes down to really understanding your customer base and customer behavior, and how companies are going to bring an experience that is relevant to their brand to those consumers in a digital channel.

Rob Fuller, Accenture Interactive

One study with 451 Research suggests that this is much harder than it appears—most enterprises are managing 80+ data sources and over 7 islands of customer data. Before you can even understand the experiences your customers want, you need to understand the customer themselves. That is why companies like Meredith—the parent company to People Magazine— invested in customer insights first, to accelerate their ability to experiment and grow faster. 

3. Adapt with your customers

It’s always been true that as consumer behavior changes, brands must do what it takes to stay in front of their consumers. But major disruptions, like COVID-19, have changed consumer behavior at an unprecedented pace.  This includes where, how, and what they purchase. It has also necessitated the need for faster digital transformation. Noah Rosenberg, Director of Digital Growth at WWT Digital shares that they are seeing an ‘Aha’ moment:

...Particularly now, in a postpandemic world, where the physical relationship is hampered. 

Noah Rosenberg, WWT Digital

Brands must figure out how to be where their customers are, how they are researching and purchasing new products, and do whatever it takes to stay in front of them. For Jersey Mike’s, a national sandwich chain, the answer was to pivot quickly to a digital stack that could support mobile orders to in-store pick up. For other companies, it means staying top of mind in new digital platforms. Rio Longacare, Managing Director of Customer Strategy & Martech, at Slalom, confirmed:

70% of consumers have tried a new brand during Covid because they couldn’t find an existing brand they liked...So looking at customer experience, placement is a big part of that. If your product isn’t out there, people will try other brands. 

Rio Longacare, Slalom Consulting

Fast-growing direct-to-consumer brands are popping up each day and in every category. If enterprises aren’t able to experiment and pivot as the digital platforms and expectations change, they won’t be able to keep up. 

The path to each of these attributes must include good data and flexible architecture

All three speakers emphasized that good customer data is the single most important component to going digital and creating the right digital experiences for your customers. Good data is essential, and brands are realizing that you can now unlock insights that weren’t possible with more traditional tactics. For example, Noah Rosenberg with WWT shared:

We realized that we could help identify the difference between a deal seeker (a one and done customer) [from] someone that looked like they could turn into a loyalist. And that turned out to be something you just couldn’t do without digital instrumentation because you weren’t keeping track of when you were seeing people...and you weren’t able to predict when they would come back in aggregate. Once that light turned on...a new path emerged.

Noah Rosenberg, WWT Digital

They also agreed that you can’t have good data without the right infrastructure. They found that a Customer Data Platform (CDP) is foundational to collecting, managing, and activating the right data.

CDP is absolutely essential. As a marketer you need a place where you can stitch, normalize, and unlock the value of all of that amazing firstparty data you have. That’s your most important asset as a marketer. CDP gives you the ability to do that...A DMP is not going to do it. A CRM is not going to do it, ERP is not going to do it. You need a CDP...

Rio Longacare, Slalom Consulting

There was also consensus over what good data and the right CDP can unlock for marketing teams. Rob Fuller summarized it best: 

Technology is finally catching up to the marketer's vision of getting the right message to the right channel at the right time. (CDP) is finally giving us the tool where we can pull things together to actually get to that kind of decisioning.

Rob Fuller, Accenture Interactive

Whether you are early in your digital journey or have been trying to transform your business for decades, it’s not too late to take full of advantage of the trillions of dollars that will flow into the digital economy in the next few years. 

Having the right plan, remaining agile, knowing your customers, and adapting with your customers is key to success. When it’s all powered by reliable data that you can use however you want, you have an even more enduring chance for transformational success.

Want to learn more about customer data and digital transformation? Watch the full panel presentation by registering for CDP Week, evaluate your customer data maturity to understand which areas need the most improvement, or request a demo to speak to a Segment expert. 

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