Kevin Davis, associate director and UK head of digital transformation, SQS
Kevin Davis, associate director and UK head of digital transformation, SQS

In an increasingly digitalised world, customers have more influence than ever on the way businesses are now run. New technologies born in the last decade have irreversibly changed the way we live, work, and communicate. Whether it is how we shop, bank or order a taxi, many businesses are struggling to keep pace within this speed of change.

Embracing change will enable organisations to reflect the customer's evolving wants and needs in a compelling way. New technology, when successfully married to end user expectations, will continue to disrupt existing business models and market sectors.

In order to exceed customer expectations, businesses must pay attention to how customers interact with the technology platforms and interfaces they use to access products and services. The goal being to exploit technological advancements for positive customer engagement and satisfaction.

Adapting to unpredictable customer behaviour

Text messaging (SMS) is an often cited example of a technology whose evolution and huge popularity was driven by a combination of consumer behaviour, advances in network technology and mobile device features. No one could have predicted that SMS messaging would overtake voice as a preferred form of communication, or for that matter the emergence of “text speak”[1]. Even in the age of smartphones and a proliferation of messaging apps, SMS maintains the highest engagement rate because it is agnostic of devices, operating systems and mobile app boundaries; it also requires no web connectivity. Its use in two-factor authentication and application-to-person communication (e.g. payment confirmation), maintains its relevance and continued popularity within the consumer domain.

Customers adapt and use platforms in ways we cannot predict. Therefore, organisations must implement processes to anticipate, detect and respond to the behaviour of their customers.

The need for connected interfaces

Organisations need to create a connected interface between themselves and their customer base, enabling them to listen to and absorb customer feedback, as well as obtain sentiment. In such a fast-paced and competitive generation, flexible processes and interfaces need to be customer-centric. The garnered feedback must be acted upon and shared with the entire business to ensure cultural alignment throughout the organisation. Stagnant organisations risk losing out to the transformative businesses that understand and respond to high-level customer demands in a timelier manner.

If the supporting systems and technology architectures aren't agile, it doesn't matter how an organisation manages and delivers change, it simply cannot advance in a rapid and scalable way; ultimately affecting the quality of the service provided. Organisations servicing customers' needs and demands must adopt agile processes in order to keep one step ahead and keep customer expectations fresh, avoiding the usual game of cat and mouse that customers have come to expect.

Learning from the best – Formula 1

A prime example of a niche market that has become the catalyst for profitable mass marketing opportunities is Formula 1, which has played an influential role in the incubation and acceleration of the technological advancement of the wider automotive marketplace. Motorsport as a whole has a long history of innovations that have ‘trickled down' into the consumer market space. We take for granted innovations from motorsport that are integral to the safety, performance, efficiency and driving pleasure of vehicles on the roads today. As Matt Harris, head of IT at the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team[2] explains: "The first thing your garage does when you go for a service is plug its diagnostic computer into the car's electronic control unit [ECU]." Who knows where it will end? F1's cousin Formula E's new venture Roborace[3] represents an exciting new frontier. We can anticipate Roborace's feed through of advancements in driverless technology, AI and communications, to autonomous commercial and consumer vehicles of the future.

In order for players in other markets to follow suit, emphasis must be placed upon the pivotal role quality assurance plays in the systems and processes that are core to keeping pace with such speed of change. Digital transformation thrives on a culture of collaboration and in order for organisations to truly embrace such change, the ability to evolve culturally is pivotal to a successful digital journey. A solid partnership between IT and the wider organisation is imperative to keeping abreast of the digital transformation race and to ultimately stay ahead of the competition and new market entrants alike.

Contributed by Kevin Davis, associate director and UK head of digital transformation, SQS