This Opinion piece is by Tal Daskal, (pictured below), CEO and Founder at Easysend. Lots of companies talk about improved customer experience, streamlining internal operations and more via digital systems. But how do you make things better, smoother and more accurate?
These days, there is a plethora of reasons driving organizations to go digital. But the ‘why’ is often an easier conclusion to reach than the ‘how’, and a botched digitization effort may cost companies more than they stand to save.
The past quarter century has been marked by the rise of an increasingly digital economy, and it is no great secret that this trend came to a head with the eruption of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of course, the organizational changes that a digitization initiative calls for differ depending on industry, sub-sector, service-type, business size, and more. The goals, however, are often the same—to streamline processes, become more time and cost efficient, improve remote functionality, and enhance the customer experience, both online and in person.
But as these initiatives often share in what they hope to achieve, so too can they share in the pitfalls that inhibit them. While recent data offer reason for optimism about the trajectory of the pandemic, the trend toward digitization will long outline COVID-19 – which is why the stakes of successful digitization are higher than ever.
Here are some of the biggest, most common mistakes that organizations make when pursuing digitization, and how with the right foresight, they can avoid them.
Lack of Understanding
Digitization can be a high potential endeavour with benefits that long outlast the time it takes to implement the necessary changes. But it can easily be reduced to an enticing buzzword-frenzy that pushes businesses to rush onto the bandwagon without packing the proper bags.
Digital transformation won’t ‘fix’ a business if its decisionmakers don’t understand where their operation needs help. Fixing actual problems, not implementing new tech for tech’s sake, should be the goal of digital transformation. Thus, the first step in a seamless digitization process is for an enterprise to take a step back, find out where their issues lie, determine which of those issues call for a digital remedy, and ascertain which digital cure best fits the diagnosis.
In asking these questions, business leaders should always keep the core of their business in mind. In the case of a legacy insurer, the question shouldn’t be ’how can we digitize to become more like a tech company’? It should be ’how can we use tech to become a better insurer’? Maybe all they need is to turn all their claims management and other customer-facing processes into a seamless, paperless UX journey that ensures ease, simplicity, and customer satisfaction. Or maybe they already have a great customer platform, but the back-end processes must be brought up to speed to match.
There’s no one ’right’ path to digitization—the right way to digitize is by whatever best helps a given business. Every organization, regardless of size, sector, or service, should start their digitization efforts by establishing where their operations will best benefit from a digital makeover.
Lack of Research
Lack of understanding is closely linked to lack of research, and the latter is a crucial next step to take. Once the proper questions have been asked and the relevant problems have been identified, there are still numerous variables that could dictate the direction a digital transformation effort will take.
If a company realizes one of their weak points is difficulty reaching new customers digitally, there is still work to be done before pouring money into digital marketing efforts. In-depth research about the customer base they already have, as well as the customer base they hope to attract will make the implementation of a marketing strategy far more effective and efficient.
Lack of Employee Preparation
Companies are not the same as the people who work for them, but neither can succeed without the other. Before sending employees down the black diamond slope of digital transformation, you must make sure they know how to ski—new tech is only as good as the people who develop, implement, and ultimately work alongside it.
Because the success of digitization is largely dependent on how prepared employees are to work in tandem with incoming new tech, those leading digitization efforts must meet their team in the middle and look for tools that employees are prepared to work with. Intuitive solutions such as no-code tools, which lower the barrier of entry to high-level software development and allow a higher number of employees to participate in the development of new platforms and products, are a great way for businesses to make changes that keep their employees in mind.
Similarly, there is something to be said for knowing when not to involve internal employees. Digital initiatives often fail when organizations think they can manage everything themselves or they pass all digitization needs to a pre-existing IT team. As organizations become more mature, the complexity of their processes grows. Because time to market is everything, a third-party digital solution provider that can help automate and streamline processes like underwriting and claims processing can not only be the most efficient path to digital transformation but can do so in a way that doesn’t leave employees high and dry.
Ignoring Internal Processes
It can be tempting for a business to start their digitization efforts with the things people will notice—customer experience and service, paperless forms, new apps, interfaces, and front facing platforms. But digitization should be about function not flash. These things will come in time and can be integral pieces in the digitization puzzle, but they should not dictate the order of operations for a digital transformation strategy.
For instance, a seamlessly automated digital customer journey is simply less effective without automatized back-end infrastructure than can store, sort, and protect the necessary information.
It will also make digital transformation more seamless and cost effective. Starting only with a digital façade will leave organizations scrambling to install the scaffolding of a building they did not prepare themselves to support.
Implementing each digital change one solution at a time, with the entire life cycle of that change in mind—including both internal and external processes—will mean that insurers can improve progressively and roll out new fully-realized tech solutions, even as the larger effort is still ongoing.