“Digital transformation” may seem like a ubiquitous term these days. I’ve heard thought leaders from across many different industries use digital transformation to refer to all sorts of different technological change.

Perhaps that is why it is so powerful.

Its simplest definition can be boiled down to the process of a company implementing digital technology into its operations, products, services, and so on. In our present, there are more people with digital tech woven into their lives, visibly or otherwise, than not – and the adoption of new technologies can impact millions when undertaken by a company such as Sony Interactive.

As SVP and Head of Digital, Technology, Engineering, IT, and Operations at Sony Interactive Entertainment, I have a close-up perspective on evolution in today’s digital age.

I’d like to use this platform to take a closer look at the following concepts: 

  • Examples of digital tech disruption in the current landscape 
  • Simple steps leaders can take to better understand their consumers 
  • A clear strategy post-implementation to benefit an organization

Our Disruptive Reality

As rapidly as technology evolves in our society, so does the disruption that comes along with it. New tools are being used to create a new age of ease and accessibility for customers. Increased financial inclusion, cognitive commerce, and predictive healthcare are just a few of the ways you can see this shift. As this pace increases, today’s customers are expecting new levels of convenience from the brands they know and trust. 

Only a look at a small slice of life shows how our day-to-day expectations have shifted due to disruption. For example, take a look at banking. Most consumers rarely step foot into a physical branch and instead manage all of the things they use to stand in line for via a mobile app. Other examples include airports, where boarding passes are on phones, and hotels where room keys can be sent to mobile devices.

Consumers benefit from being able to engage on their own terms, but friction and pain points still exist. How do you evolve the experience for a company when your consumer enjoys a system that needs to be almost invisible to them as they engage with it? Small tweaks. Continuous smaller changes that ease them in over time, not massive overhauls that can disrupt their experience in a negative way and push them into another ecosystem.

Digital evolution is the vehicle for this continuous change and it marks a reimagination. At the center of this transition is how an organization uses technology, enables its people, and adapts its processes in pursuit of more efficient business models and revenue streams driven by changes in customer expectations and experiences with products and services.

Digital Evolution with Customers at the Center

With all that understood, where does your commitment to a consistent digital evolution begin? I believe it starts with the Chief Information Officer (CIO) or Chief Data Officer (CDO) and that person’s focus on amplifying customer needs through three pillars of strategy.

The first is a 360-degree customer measurement and value framework. The second is a focus on sustainable technology investments in tools, talent, and the systems that are more secure and reliable, while scaling competitive advantage. Last but not least is the pursuit of continuous improvement and agility in putting technology investments into practice, and direct support of the customer.

This strategy provides flexible systems that are very resilient. The onus is on us to evolve our processes and workflows in a way where we learn and create value. We must continuously evolve how we choose technology, find patrons, prioritize knowledge transfer, and break down silos and barriers. We must make the technology invisible, in essence, creating a global connection and simplifying how we do business.

The Building Blocks for Successful Implementation

Customer-centric building from the CIO/CDO then puts the company in the position to set a very clear strategy framed around four specific themes:

  • Enhancing engagement with customers and partners
  • Amplifying the “employee-people experience”
  • Digitization of operations
  • Investigating the most robust data sources

Engagement is pretty straightforward and that theme answers the question of “How do we deliver on an even more intelligent, data-driven, contextual, relevant interaction with all of our customers and players?” This must be done in a way that gets to the root of understanding where customers are and what they’re looking for, followed by the ability to serve them rapidly with the right information at the right time.

Ensuring that we can find the right self-service capabilities — systems that learn, create value, or prioritize knowledge transfer — is how we elevate the employee or people experience that we deliver. This takes out the guesswork for employees and makes it an easier experience for them.

Everything from the supply chain, ERP systems, budget, and planning work on an ‘always on’ resilience, allowing for systems to be supremely data-driven with relevant input to our teams. All three of these themes are informed by the data, so there needs to be a focus on ensuring the company has the right data sources, models, and governance for them.

Putting It All Together

With the wealth of information available to consumers and companies,  nimble institutions should prioritize an ever-evolving strategy that gets to the root of customers’ constantly changing wants or expectations alongside a company strategy that gets them to solutions as quickly as possible. A strong foundation must not be overly rigid. It certainly must be strong – but flexible and fluid – so as to meet society’s evolving relationship with technology.