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Digital Transformation

As Uncertainty Persists, Digital Transformation Remains at the Heart of the CEO Agenda

Gavin Patterson

Amid unprecedented headwinds of geopolitical, supply chain, and market volatility, 2022 will be a pivotal year for many businesses. Reducing costs and increasing efficiency have never been more front-of-mind in the boardroom. Businesses are under pressure to find answers, and the automation and efficiencies that cloud technology can deliver represent a clear solution.

It’s a daunting time and many companies have never had to manage through so many issues at once. But there are parallels between the start of the pandemic and this new phase of global uncertainty. We can learn from the former, where some companies were able to act fast, create a long-term digital strategy, and come out stronger.

Without a digital strategy, there’s no strategy

The pandemic taught us that if a company doesn’t have a digital strategy it doesn’t have a strategy. Digital transformation accelerated throughout the pandemic and those organizations that were able to pivot quickly reaped the benefits.

Research from Accenture found that ‘leader’ businesses doubled down on their tech investment during 2020 and 2021, and as a result, are now growing five times faster than ‘laggard’ businesses.

It also found that a new group of ‘Leapfrogger’ businesses targeted over twice as many processes for digital transformation during the pandemic. They are now growing four times faster than Laggards and closing the gap on Leaders.

The same opportunity exists today and once again, CEOs are investing in technology as an enabler for driving efficiency and profitability, while boosting innovation and ensuring competitive advantage.

An industry-wide shift

Technology investment plans are emerging as a vital component in business strategies now pivoting towards a more balanced focus between cost-saving and growth. It is a shift I am seeing in businesses across every industry.

AI and machine-learning are being used by major global manufacturers and retailers to rethink supply chain management, to effectively manage rising supplier prices, and to determine how best to meet customer purchasing preferences.

In financial services – an industry where many organizations are recognizing the urgent need to modernize both the front and back ends of their operations, or lose business — automation via the cloud is reinventing the customer experience, boosting productivity, and eliminating needless costs.

The same is true across the public sector — no one would have imagined a short time ago that we would be self-servicing through chatbots with government services or communicating with a ministry through SMS. Digital platforms have transformed how governments are able to engage with their citizens, and that’s only going to accelerate. From vaccine distribution to call center operations, governments have seen first-hand the power of what technology can do for them and their citizens: delivering high quality digital services, driving efficiencies and cost-effectiveness.

In this environment, companies need to create incredible customer experiences across every interaction to stay competitive. And they need to realize productivity gains, efficiencies, and resilience from their technology investments. Many companies are turning to Salesforce and Customer 360 as their digital platform to do so.

Our recent work with sound experience company Sonos is an example. Leveraging Salesforce technology, Sonos was able to transform its digital shopping capabilities and deliver more personalized customer experiences from anywhere. As a result, the company was able to grow its direct-to-consumer business by 84% year-over-year, while giving agents the tools they needed to deliver the same great service online that customers experience in store.

Home alarms systems leader ADT is another company using Salesforce to boost efficiencies whilst achieving higher customer satisfaction. With Service Cloud, ADT executed over 200,000 virtual service visits in the first quarter of this year, avoiding having to deploy technicians onsite in 80% of its service cases resulting in lowered costs and carbon footprint.

These are the kinds of experiences that businesses will look to drive customer loyalty and help protect the bottom line.

Weathering the storm

Disruption and uncertainty will continue. Efficiency imperatives will become even more important as producer price inflation hits the highest rate for more than 40 years, as energy prices soar, and as corporation taxes increase.

Among the big topics on the agenda at the WEF annual meeting, IT innovation was cast as one among the big challenges of climate change, societal equity, jobs and skills, healthcare. I believe the role of technology is fundamental to driving efficiencies and smarter implementation in all these areas.

Conditions are cloudy, for sure. But we must not – economically – be overcast. We must rethink our approach to efficiency at every level, in every department, in every single operation. By getting this right, we can learn to be more agile and better adapt to the uncertain future. This in turn will provide opportunities for success in the long term.

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