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Efficiency, customer journey at heart of digital transformation

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Businesses of varying sizes are facing increasing pressure to go digital, as lean, data-driven competition pushes ahead. Management consultants at Say Yeah look to the challenge of helping companies make the transformation to digital.

Say Yeah founder and CEO Lee Dale is no stranger to the growing pains of getting a company to move forward with digital projects.

When Virgin Gaming hired Say Yeah, they were struggling to get customers to put money in their gaming accounts. The largely manual process had customer service reps jumping between multiple applications, carefully checking each step along the way in order not to lose any money. With each customer service rep having to use five separate documents for each case, with up to 45 steps included each time, there were multiple chances for human error. Meanwhile, the customer was waiting for a long period of time before being able to access their funds.

Despite having a digital offering, it was not optimized for the customer experience.

Say Yeah used a combination of research and data analysis to optimize the service and learn how the customer’s overall experience could be improved in what was undeniably an overly complicated process.

Recommendations made by Say Yeah included automation to reduce time and human error, information-design to improve the workflow and improved communication and speed to meet client requests. Virgin Gaming was able to reduce a 45-step process that was stressful for both customers and employees into a simple three-step list of tasks for each customer service rep.

Virgin Gaming is one example of how Say Yeah looks at customer journeys, going to the heart of the changes that are being driven by social environments. Dale addresses this priority in the form of a simple question: “How do you provide meaningful service across those spaces that people are using?” The geography of digital is vast, and it’s important to focus the particular mix of devices, contexts or locations that will impact a business or a product.

The key is to approach a business from the customer’s perspective and an appreciation that it typically involves more than just one interaction leading to a sale — it’s about addressing the entirety of a customer’s interactions, including the post-purchase experience, to get a better idea of where a business could create more value.

By identifying the customer journeys that are going on around your business, and continually evaluating this process from the customer’s point of view, value can be created out of better understanding of how they’re interacting with a company in a digital space.

For Dale, who founded Say Yeah in 2008 when mobile began to take shape with the iPhone’s release, digital transformation is all about helping businesses find efficiencies and make smarter decisions.

“Regardless of the level of digital literacy within an organization, there are missing pieces,” Dale said. Say Yeah will begin its process of working with businesses by auditing workflow and setup in order to determine if there are missing pieces in a business process. In addition, Say Yeah will advise a business on where they think the value is for the customer, a focal point that is key to growing a digital footprint and funnel that attracts customers.

Dale says it’s all about being practical and setting sights on the more immediate goals for any business looking to innovate. The majority of customers that approach the Toronto-based management consulting company come to Say Yeah with a problem that needs fixing. More often than not, technology provides a solution.

A recent study by the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB) shows that businesses understand the need to go digital. But a majority of businesses and companies surveyed by CFIB are still dragging their feet on things like data and multiple channels of social media — there’s more to digital life than just Facebook, after all.

While the company began by focusing on small- and medium- sized businesses, Say Yeah now works with larger companies from a variety of backgrounds — financial services, insurance, sports work and various B2B organizations.

There are multiple things to consider when making the jump to digital. When it comes to looking at customer journeys and finding value and efficiencies, regardless of the project or scale, digital tools and processes can give businesses the leg up they need.

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The importance of data access for digital initiatives

A new report from MuleSoft found that just 37% of organizations have the skills and technology to keep up with digital projects.

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In a global survey of over 1,700 line of business employees in organizations with at least 250 employees, MuleSoft found that just 37% of organizations have the skills and technology to keep up with digital projects.

The resulting report — The State of Business and IT Innovation — reveals four key ideas that IT leaders need to know in order to drive digital innovation forward.

These four key findings are:

  • Collaboration is key 
    • 68% of respondents believe IT and LoB users should jointly drive digital innovation.
  • Keep up the pace 
    • 51% expressed frustration with the speed at which IT can deliver projects.
  • Integration challenge
    • 37% cite security and compliance as the biggest challenge to delivering new digital services, followed by integration (i.e. connecting systems, data, and apps) at 37%.
  • Data access
    • 80% say that in order to deliver on project goals faster, employees need easy access to data and IT capabilities.  

“This research shows data is one of the most critical assets that businesses need to move fast and thrive into the future,” said MuleSoft CEO Brent Hayward

“Organizations need to empower every employee to unlock and integrate data — no matter where it resides — to deliver critical, time-sensitive projects and innovation at scale, while making products and services more connected than ever.”

Want to read through the whole report? Download it from MuleSoft

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Where is the financial value in AI? Employing multiple human-machine learning approaches, say experts

According to a new study, only 10% of organizations are achieving significant financial benefits with AI.

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AI is everywhere these days — especially as we work to fight the spread of COVID-19

Even in the “before times,” AI was a hot topic that always found itself in the center of most digital transformation conversations. A new study from MIT Sloan Management Review, BCG GAMMA, and BCG Henderson Institute, however, prompts a crucial question:

Are You Making the Most of Your Relationship with AI?

Finding value

Despite the proliferation of the technology and increased investment, according to the report, just 10% of organizations are achieving significant financial benefits with AI. The secret ingredient in these success stories? “Multiple types of interaction and feedback between humans and AI,” which translated into a six-times better chance of amplifying the organization’s success with AI.

“The single most critical driver of value from AI is not algorithms, nor technology — it is the human in the equation,” affirms report co-author Shervin Khodabandeh.

 

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From a survey of over 3,000 managers from 29 industries based in 112 countries — plus in-depth interviews with experts — the report outlined three investments organizations can make to maximize value:

  • The likelihood of achieving benefits increases by 19% with investment in AI infrastructure, talent, and strategy.
  • Scalability. When organizations think beyond automation as a use case, the likelihood of financial benefit increases by 18%.
  • “Achieving organizational learning with AI (drawing on multiple interaction modes between humans and machines) and building feedback loops between human and AI increases that likelihood by another 34%.”

According to report co-author Sam Ransbotham, at the core of successfully creating value from AI is continuous learning between human and machine:

“Isolated AI applications can be powerful. But we find that organizations leading with AI haven’t changed processes to use AI. Instead, they’ve learned with AI how to change processes. The key isn’t teaching the machines. Or even learning from the machines. The key is learning with the machines — systematically and continuously.” 

Continued growth

While just 1 in 10 organizations finds financial benefits with AI, 70% of respondents understand how it can generate value — up from 57% in 2017.

Additionally, 59% of respondents have an AI strategy, compared to 39% in 2017, the survey found. Finally, 57% of respondents say their organizations are “piloting or deploying” AI — not a huge increase from 2017 (46%). 

One of the biggest takeaways? According to co-author David Kiron, “companies need to calibrate their investments in technology, people, and learning processes.”

“Financial investments in technology and people are important, but investing social capital in learning is critical to creating significant value with AI.”

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Bringing DX to the food supply chain in a pandemic

In a new paper, supply chain stakeholders share how COVID-19 has affected the transformation of the sector.

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There’s little doubt that COVID-19 had a profound effect on the food supply chain.

As one example, just think back to roughly March of this year, when virus transmission was rapidly picking up speed. Remember the reports of food and beverage companies only producing their most popular or essential products? Or how it would take slightly longer than usual to restock certain products? What about the rush to integrate — or quickly improve the efficiency of — digital and e-commerce. 

Panning out a bit, think about food safety and quality professionals. The need to stay safe — and in many cases, stay at home — meant performing the very hands-on job of monitoring, auditing, inspecting at a distance, i.e. digitally. 

When the food supply chain was hit by storages, delays, breakdowns, and lockdowns, the end result was — like in so many sectors — a rapid digital transformation.

As The Food Safety Market — an SME-powered industrial data platform dedicated to boosting the competitiveness of European food certification — elaborates in a new discussion paper, “technology has played an important role in enabling business continuity in the new reality.”

The paper — Digital Transformation of Food Quality & Safety: How COVID-19 accelerates the adoption of digital technologies across the food supply chain — features industry experts from companies like Nestlé, Ferrero, PepsiCo, McCormick & Company, and more discussing the effects of the pandemic on the supply chain.

A few highlights from the paper:

  • John Carter, Area Europe Quality Director for Ferrero put the issue of food access into perspective at the start of his interview:

“The production of food defines our world. The effects of agriculture on our daily lives are so omnipresent that they can be easy to overlook; landscapes and societies are profoundly influenced by the need to feed our growing population. But much has been taken for granted. Only occasionally are we forced to consider: ‘where does our food come from?'”

  • Ellen de Brabander, Senior Vice President of R&D for PepsiCo provided insight on the cost benefits of digital transformation:

“The need for customization is a big driver for accelerating digital transformation and moving away from a ‘one size fits all’ approach. This means that the cost to develop and produce a product must be lower and digital technologies provide a clear opportunity here.” 

  • Clare Menezes, Director of Global Food Integrity for McCormick & Company brought up one area where digital tools need to go:

“There aren’t any areas where digital tools “fail”, but there is a need for tools that ‘prove out’ predictions around where the next integrity event will play out and how it could lead to quality or food safety failure. These tools are an obvious candidate for AI given the number of PESTLE factors that might come into play.” 

Want to read all of the interviews? Check out the paper here.

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