Episode #55: An Introduction to the Digital Customer-First Transformation System

Grad Conn

January 14, 202111 min read

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If we’ve learned anything the past year, it’s that digital transformation is critical to an organization’s ongoing success. DT seems to be top of mind for most business people I talk too. The challenge is knowing how to start (or accelerate). Today, we’re starting a multi-part series on how to turn your digital transformation dream into reality. We call it our Digital Customer-First Transformation System, and it’s a compelling way to align your stakeholders, and ensure you’re thinking about the many moving parts that make up digital transformation.

Click here to view the Digital Customer-First Transformation System Overview (pdf, 3MB)

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Welcome to the CXM Experience. I am your host, Grad Conn, CXO at Sprinklr. And we’ve got a special show today. We’re gonna be doing something we’ve not done before. We’ve talked about it, but we haven’t really gotten into it, which is talking about how to do a digital transformation project. How do you kick it off? It’s one of the most common questions I get from customers and prospects, which is: that all sounds great. I’m committed, our organization wants to make it happen. How do we get started? What do we do next?

And it’s actually a big deal. Because the challenge of getting started is a challenge of driving alignment, it’s a challenge of bringing along stakeholders, it’s a challenge of what to do next, and who to talk to, and what to think about. And it’s a, it’s a very significant one, because it can lead to some pretty negative outcomes, if you plunge into it without understanding what you’re doing. If you plunge into it without a lot of process, if you plunge into it, and make mistakes or miss things, it can be catastrophic, both for the company, for the project, and, most importantly, for your career.

And the reason I say most importantly, is a little bit justy, but the fact of the matter is, it’s very hard to get people to do things that have high levels of career risk. People tend to avoid those things, because they look at that as being something that it’s not worth it. And the payoff internally may not be very high, and the career risk may be very significant. And so most people will choose a lesser trod path, and make sure that they’re safe.

And so what we did is we actually started building something called a Digital Customer-First Transformation System at Sprinklr. And we did this based on the 1000+ implementations that we’ve done with some of the world’s largest companies. And we did it as a way to give people air cover. Air cover to know that they were considering all the issues that they had to think about, as they were going on a digital transformation journey.

And I’ll be posting some of the stuff on the blog. And we’ll, we’ll make it available for download. And of course, you can always contact me directly, DM me on X, formerly Twitter, or whatever. And I can go through it in detail. But I want to give you a quick overview of what DCFTS is all about today. And then we’re gonna dive in to each of the sections as we go through the next week. I think this is probably one of the most compelling pieces of content I’ve ever seen. I was a customer of Sprinklr, when I got delivered the first copy of this, and I remember at the time thinking, what a fantastic way to align my peers, and also to make sure that I was thinking about everything that needed to be in the model.

So the first thing is the way you think about a digital transformation journey is to really get your value model in line first. There’s a potential caveat here. And I’ll talk about that in a minute around maturity models. But if you can get a value model lined up, it’s very powerful. What it allows you to do is to say, hey, I want to grow revenue, I want to reduce costs, or I want to manage risk. Revenue cost and risk, those are the three primary business objectives that most companies are focused on. One more than the others, typically. And then what are the different use cases that I want to bring to life under each one of those primary business objectives? So what use cases light those up? And what that does is it allows you to sit down with your organization. And instead of talking about technology, or diagrams, etc, or SAR talking about activities, you talk about outcomes. And you talk about outcomes in a way that people are like, yes, that is something that I’d be aligned to and I’d be supportive of. It’s a very powerful way to drive alignment. Also a great way to make sure that you’re on the same page, because you may find that people are like, no, we don’t think revenue is a big deal, we really need to reduce costs or whatever.

The second piece is the capabilities model. So what is needed from the people, process, and technology that you’re bringing into place. This is essentially identifying what you need as you start down the path. And so this is a particularly powerful document. And when we go through this, in another show, we’ll have a lot of fun with it because it starts to outline all the things you might forget. And this is the thing that gets people scared, which is as I’m starting down the journey, maybe I can think through the outcomes. But what about all the stuff I’m going to need. Have I really thought it through? Do I have that available?

The third step is to define where you are and what’s next. And this is the maturity model. Occasionally, I have seen this work better as a first step. So it’s not like a super rigid thing. It’s not like you’re launching a rocket here. So you can move things around. But the great thing about the maturity model is it enables you to have a discussion about how you’re moving from being brand-centric, which is typically the ways most organizations are structured, to becoming customer centric. We have four stages in this, and two in the brand, two in the customer. Most companies are still brand centric, and they’re trying to move to customer centric. And this allows you to sit down and have a really frank discussion with members of your team on where are we on this spectrum? And how do we feel about that? And it’s not judgmental, it’s just like, where are we right now, and, and what progress are we making and how do we want to get there. It can be helpful as an alignment device earlier, if you think that your maturity is very low. So if you’re very low in maturity, but potentially, there’s a disconnect in the organization, where a lot of people think that they’re customer first, or there’s a customer first ideology or slogan floating around the company, but not really being delivered against, sometimes that early stage Maturity Model discussion can be a very helpful way of helping show that we think we are this way, or we aspire to be like this, but this is how we’re behaving. And you can see our behavior is early stage brand centric, and that can cause a penny to drop, that may drive some motivation for more serious digital transformation. Then you can say, here are the values that we want to drive. And here are the capabilities that we need. So it just depends a little bit on the situation you’re in.

Coming out of that you do need to validate the investment. So we’re gonna make a big investment here, we’re gonna make a lot of change happen. There’ll be a lot of investment simply in training people, and getting people to think in new and different ways. So what’s the ROI model? So we outline a whole bunch of different ways of thinking about the ROI. And what’s really great about Sprinklr is there’s actually a value realization dashboard in Sprinklr itself these days, and so you’re able to actually see on a day to day basis, what value Sprinklr is generating for you, and what ROI that’s generating versus the investment you’ve made. So this ROI piece is super important. And, again, makes a really big difference in terms of aligning senior management.

Then, Step five is deciding what to do. And there’s three thoughts in here. One is what is your functional use case model? So what use cases will light up the value that you’re trying to drive? What is your operations model? How are you going to actually put this into action? What teams you’re going to bring in? How are they going to work together What workflows do you need to put in place? All that stuff is super important. And then what is your architecture? So there’s a reference model in this and everyone’s architecture is different, and so you have to think about what is my martech stack and other parts of my customer facing organization? How does my whole front office connect together, so I can provide a seamless experience with a 360 degree view of the customer. And then all that drives to the outcome of becoming a customer first digital organization.

And today with digital becoming the way that people go to market… I just had a very interesting discussion with an organization a minute ago, which was literally entirely based on face to face events. Their whole business was based on face to face events. And they actually… obviously, the world changed dramatically for them about a year ago. And they’ve been fast speed, getting in and ramping up on digital. They’re not ever going to get rid of the digital stuff, even when face to face comes back. So digital is here to stay. And I think a lot of people were able to ignore it for a while. But they’re not going to survive without it. And it’s always going to have to be a key part of the mix.

What I’m also enjoying and it’s amazing to see, but I just saw that Warner Brothers announced that they are going to be joint releasing everything on HBO Max and the theaters. So there will be other sort of fundamental changes in the way that things are released. And the way that entertainment’s delivered, I think that this idea of having a physical release followed later by digital is probably gone and probably gone forever, which is pretty amazing. Pretty amazing change. So these black swan events, like the pandemic, do have a major impact that ultimately, long term, people will look back and say, you know, why don’t we do that anymore? What happened to that behavior?

It’s a little bit like… one of my favorite story is undershirts. So at one point in time — many men still wear undershirts — but all men wore undershirts. It was a common piece of clothing. And then famously, Humphrey Bogart took his shirt off in a movie and was not wearing an undershirt. And overnight undershirt sales plummeted. People just moved away from that fashion. Same thing with hats. At one point in time, not very long ago, all people wore hats. Particularly men would wear hats, but women as well. And that was just a standard piece of business clothing. Everyone had a hat. And then one day they didn’t. And you always wonder what happened? How did everyone collectively decide to change? And we’re going to see the same thing in the digital realm now.

So for the rest of the week, we’re going to talk in more detail about Digital Customer-First Transformation and spend a bit of time on each component, show how they fit together and show how you can use it to drive digital transformation in your own organization. So that’s it for today and for the CXM Experience, this is Grad Conn, and I’ll see you next time.

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