In a world where digital is table stakes, enterprises must focus on elevating the human experience with technology.

There was a time when companies could gain a competitive edge simply by using advanced technology. In a post-digital world, however, differentiation comes from providing experiences for customers that truly meet their needs — and that requires a combination of cutting-edge technology and a finely tuned sensitivity to what the customer is looking for.

In this article, we discuss the changing face of digital transformation and what it means for companies seeking to create and sustain their competitive edge into the future.

Moving from digital transformation to digital as a basic requirement

Digital has evolved from something that enables organisations to implement competitive strategies into the bare minimum required to do business. Spending on digital transformation technologies and services worldwide is forecast to reach $2.39 trillion in 2024. But are companies spending their money wisely?

Companies at the forefront of digital transformation are learning to braid their new solutions and projects together to create efficiencies that accelerate productivity and enhance outcomes for customers, employees and the company. With a truly cohesive approach to digitalisation, organisations can focus their energies on end-user experiences because they can map out workflows swiftly across the organisation and streamline the adoption of new tools.

Harnessing the next wave of digital technology

As technology evolves, the potential for individualising products and services will expand. Leveraging data and analytical capabilities, companies will be able to understand user needs and goals better than before. What they do with that information will determine their success, as customers migrate to companies that can truly meet their needs on demand.

Technology and data are not enough on their own to push the modern organisation to the forefront of its sector and win the digital experience battle. It needs to weave processes, people and technology to create solutions that meet customers where they are — and where they will be in the future. As well as gathering and analysing data to produce actionable insights that it can apply to its technology, the organisation must also build a culture that focuses on creating and sustaining powerful relationships with its customers. And a key element of engaging with customers in this way is to understand how they view technology.

Understanding customer attitudes to tech

According to the Technology Vision Consumer Survey, 52% of consumers say that technology is either prominent in their lives or ingrained into virtually every aspect of it. Far from being hesitant about using technology, people have entered a post-digital stage in which technology plays a pivotal role in their day-to-day existence.

Customers have adopted an omnichannel approach to technology consumption, visiting multiple websites, blogs, social networks, and video and podcast aggregators to create their own experiences. Brands can capitalise on this by ensuring optimal engagement rates on every channel a target audience uses during their customer lifecycle and deliver a great customer experience.

Nonetheless, a natural suspicion persists about the way enterprises use technology. Given the enormous power that a handful of tech companies wield, it is understandable if people distrust what they perceive organisations are doing with that tech. If companies apply artificial intelligence to decision-making without transparency or raise legitimate concerns among users about the security and privacy of their data, they will encounter resistance.

It is up to business leaders to counter this resistance and harness the excitement and curiosity people feel about technology. People want to stay connected, have their needs understood, trust that their data won’t be sold without their knowledge and avoid being assailed by unwanted advertising. In response, companies must provide more human-centred experiences that match what customers expect.

Unfortunately, there is no single fail-safe approach to delivering a successful post-digital experience. To elevate their offerings so that they can deliver consistently into the future, companies will need to adapt and meet their customers at the nexus between people and technology.

Thriving in a post-digital world

By innovating at speed and focusing relentlessly on gaining and retaining their customers’ trust, companies can lead their rivals in a post-digital marketplace. That means harnessing technology to elevate their brand into something more than a product or service.

Nike doesn’t just sell athletic products; it creates a community that empowers customers to feel a genuine ownership of their fitness goals and participate in the brand in a way that extends far beyond buying its sneakers. The Covid-19 pandemic prompted Nike to create different digital spaces for customers to interact with high-performance athletes. As well as a library of free digital workouts and other resources, it offered live workouts streams by Nike Master Trainers and digital fitness challenges that kept customers engaged.

Brands now have the power to individualise, segmenting their audiences down to a personal level and adapting campaigns based on first-party data (provided with consent) such as website activity and buying patterns. Applying automation to this kind of data means you can quickly create personalised product recommendations that are likely to generate higher conversion rates.

The key is to prioritise the customer and what they are trying to achieve and harness technology to help them satisfy that need — not the other way around. For too long, companies have been building tech-driven products and services with outdated playbooks and trying to shoehorn their creations to meet the needs of post-digital customers. However, by listening empathetically and using the resulting insights to create appropriate offerings that help customers do what they want to do, companies can unlock the potential for tech to make life easier and better.

Understanding what actually matters to customers should form the central plank of any organisation’s agenda. It’s not just about selling more; focusing on the customer’s quest and adapting so that it becomes a trusty companion on that quest turns the organisation into a valued partner. Learning how to respond quickly as the need arises offers the kind of future-proofing that is elusive in a post-digital world.

Coupled with a commitment to innovation at speed, a human-centred approach raises brands above the ordinary and assures them of sustainable, scalable relevance.

Even with a commitment to understanding and meeting customer needs, the route to post-digital success is not without its obstacles: Ensuring you have the right kind of quality data to tailor your offerings can stymie efforts to deliver actionable insights, and the struggle to find, develop and retain quality tech talent continues. Nonetheless, as long as enterprises focus on elevating the human experience with technology, they can look forward to forming lasting relationships with their customers and remaining relevant and resilient in a post-digital world.

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