As we enter the new decade, what’s on the horizon for digital transformation in 2020?
In my view, it will be the year of focusing on the true return on investment from these initiatives and going from pilots or point solutions to enterprisewide scalability. This is also the year when there will be a true merging of empowered people, reinvented processes and technology acceleration to drive business model change and launch new products and services.
Employees enabled with digital training and tools will move closer to the center of digital transformations across all industries. Their ideas will spur innovations, and their energy will fuel growth. When this is combined, it will unleash massive potential and drive true value.
So what does that mean for 2020? Here are my top five predictions for digital transformation this year:
1. EX Becomes As Important As CX
Many business leaders understand the positive correlation between employee experience (EX) and customer experience (CX). Yet some continue to focus almost exclusively on customers. I believe this will change in 2020, a year in which EX will become just as important as CX.
Engaged and digitally enabled employees have the tools and are more motivated to offer consistently higher levels of customer service and drive efficiencies. They’re skilled problem-solvers, and they improve overall financial performance. Companies fostering this sort of EX stimulus will ride a wave of transformation momentum that will take their organizations to new heights for years to come. Those that can’t will be left behind.
To truly differentiate themselves, organizations need to focus on their EX. I foresee greater investments in putting hard dollars toward (and dedicated executive attention on) promoting EX.
2. The Rise Of ROX
When considering the EX-CX connection and where to place bets, the notion of return on experience (ROX) will become increasingly important. And in 2020, I think we’ll see much more discussion about ROX.
There’s more that can be done to improve experience than bolstering an organization’s financial and personnel resources. The question is no longer whether the problem is a pain point but if it will drive a return.
ROX can be measured in many ways. Quantitatively, leaders can think of factors such as share of wallet, basket size, number of visits, profitability and other financial measures. But ROX comprises much more than these metrics. It also takes into account qualitative factors such as loyalty, net promoter scores, social media engagement, brand affinity and much more.
ROX is less about understanding pain points (although that’s still important) and more about recognizing the returns or benefits to addressing them. This isn’t an exact science, but in 2020, more leaders will focus on ROX in order to get the most value out of their digital transformation initiatives.
3. Digital Upskilling Will Become A New Battleground
The pace of change is only getting faster as we face constant demands to do more, work differently and solve problems. But employee training hasn’t kept up with this and remains stuck in the 2000s. Completing an e-learning training module isn’t digital upskilling. It’s about providing people with new tools and capabilities to be able to work, act and think differently.
A key enabler of digital upskilling is also helping employees know what their journey looks like. It can be daunting for employees if they feel they have to learn new data, artificial intelligence or other tools. But if you create a proficiency journey, which talks about what people should be able to do at each step, and help them understand that not all employees need to be at the highest level of skill, the process becomes much easier. These are tools and techniques learned from behavioral economics that align with how we think and feel.
Empowered by new digital skills and tools, and with an understanding of what they need to do with them, most employees will respond positively to transformation changes.
4. Humanizing AI
AI, machine learning and robotic process automation will keep expanding in 2020. Many pilot projects will continue to go live, and several organizations that have yet to begin their digital transformation journeys will embark down this road.
But many organizations tend to rush down the technology path for these solutions and ignore or fail to understand the human factor.
Consider a call center. Algorithms can prompt employees with alternative options when it comes to customer service and sales. But taking that AI-generated advice may run counter to the fact that marketing wants the employee to push another offer or run up against time-based metrics that reward call center workers for finishing calls fast. Without understanding the human side of AI, these projects will continue to be pilots.
Tensions between automated advice and established metrics frequently work against the employee. That has to change. And in 2020, I believe it will.
5. Citizen-Led Innovation Takes Off
Executives have tended to look outward for the next big thing. It’s time to have a more balanced approach to focus more on internal opportunities. In 2020, employees will be drivers of innovation.
Employees are closest to customers and their problems. As they get empowered by new tools and capabilities and are encouraged by a companywide culture of innovation, they’ll unleash their energy to create new solutions.
Companies need to nurture and harness this cultural change by rewarding citizen-led innovation in any number of ways. Give the employee who led an innovation project additional opportunities to scale and commercialize the solution. Offer that employee a choice of the next project. Time off and meaningful recognition can also go a long way. Money can work well, but for these new pioneers, it’s not usually the primary motivator.
Winning In 2020 And Beyond
This year is about scaling and getting the most out of your digital transformation investments. It’s also an opportunity for companies to understand and embrace the human side of DX (digital experience). Organizations that understand and make this pivot quickly will be the winners in 2020 and the years to come.