Articles/The Five Ps – key steps to starting a successful digital transformation journey

The Five Ps – key steps to starting a successful digital transformation journey

The Five Ps – key steps to starting a successful digital transformation journey

By VERSA Founder and CEO Kath Blackham

Many organisations want to get on board the digital transformation train – but don’t know where or how to begin. I sat down with industry experts to discuss what steps you can take to overcome internal obstacles and make a smart start to your organisation’s digital transformation journey. 

Here are the five things that became clear. It’s not all about the technology. You need to start with the end in mind. If a process is broken, you need to fix it first. Baby steps are better than big leaps. And you can’t do it all on your own.

I call them the ‘5 Ps’ for digital transformation success – People, Purpose, Process, Pilot, and Partner. 

1. People power

Make sure you take your people on the journey - that's always the first barrier.

Digital transformation isn’t only about technological change. It’s about human change management too.

When you start talking about automation, it creates fear. People immediately think about job losses.

You might be thinking about elevation of purpose and giving your team new and better ways to do more challenging and rewarding tasks.

Your people are thinking, ‘What’s going to happen to my job?’. 

When you take away some of the boring or repetitive work your team does, you create space for them to do higher cognitive or emotionally valuable work, but you need to be careful about how you approach transition. It is change for the better, but your people don’t know that if you don’t spell it out for them.  

And if you don’t have your people on board, you’re destined to fail. McKinsey* estimates 70% of change programs fail to achieve their goals – mostly due to employee resistance and lack of management support. 

You need your people to be as invested in the change as you are. You need to reassure them about what it means, so they join you on the journey – and don’t hold it back.

Your greatest selling point for that is this word: Augmentation. Not automation.

Augmentation is the best approach to a successful digital transformation. It means using AI to support, not replace, your people. 

Let your people know how the change is going to make their job easier, more satisfying or free them to do more rewarding tasks. 

2. Purpose – what’s the point?

You have to make sure the outcome you're trying to achieve is the right one.

When you start a jigsaw puzzle, you don’t just put random pieces together. You need to know what the finished picture looks like before you begin. 

It’s the same with a successful digital transformation. You don’t just throw pieces of technology together. You need to know what the outcome is going to be at the end.

Digital transformation isn’t about the inputs. It’s about the outcome. 

Design with the end result in mind. 

Identify what you want to achieve from the task you are automating or augmenting. Identify a problem to solve. Then you will know why you are doing it and what you want to achieve. 

Look at data and insights to see where your customers' pain points are. What can’t they do easily? Or what can’t you do easily for them? What are the most common questions or requests you receive? What are the most routine manual tasks your people do that could be easily automated? Start with that low hanging fruit to get the most bang for your buck from the get go. 

That’s what VERSA did for Wilson Parking. Through discovery workshops, we identified cancellation of parking bookings as a common request without a consistent or efficient process to manage it. So we automated the cancellation process with a simple update to Wilson’s IVR system. That single change improved operational efficiencies, employee productivity and customer satisfaction. 

3. Pick a Problem Process – and change it

When you identify a problem process in your business, don’t just automate it. Fix it first.  

AI uses Machine Learning (ML) to learn from the data we feed it and how we gather it. If you automate a process, flaws and all, you still end up with a flawed process. Just an automated one. All you will get is flawed data, faster. And annoy customers sooner. 

Forget ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’. If it is broken, you have to fix your process before you automate, augment or digitise it.

That’s a particular problem we see in call centres, that have been traditionally structured around making money through maximising the number of calls per seat. It preferences quantity of customer calls over quality interactions. That model is broken.

And trying to save money by sending it offshore to countries with a lower cost base is just exporting a problem that still needs to be solved. 

Most of the time, call centre agents are simply given scripts they can’t deviate from, which makes them sound like robots. Don’t turn your humans into robots with automated responses. We have robots for that.  Fix the process first. 

VERSA has helped many clients transform their contact centre by automating with AI to augment their people power. Bots do the entry level work answering straightforward questions - and then hand off the higher-value queries and conversations to humans. 

That’s what we implemented for Victoria’s State Trustees. Up to 40% of State Trustee calls are simple queries – what’s my account balance? A bot can tell them that immediately. Quick answer, happy customer. Human agents handle the other 60% - more complex enquiries from vulnerable clients including people with Alzheimer’s or schizophrenia. 

4. Piece by piece – pilots before projects

Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither is a digital transformation. 

The best approach to digital transformation is an iterative one - test, implement, tweak, iterate – not trying to change the entire business model in one go. 

When we sit down with clients, I tell them straight up: We don't do projects, we do tests first. If we can't provide you with a benefit in that test, there's no point in rolling out a big project, and failing big.

That’s the approach we took in delivering a pilot customer service project for State Trustees.  The aim of the project was to improve operational efficiencies, customer satisfaction, and employee productivity explains Executive GM Michael Spiegel: “VERSA’s test and learn approach is aligned to everything we do at State Trustees – ensuring we collect the data needed to make informed decisions before moving forward and rolling out a project.”

“The discovery process has given us the ability to analyse detailed customer insights, expose opportunities for optimisation, and the best approach for customers and staff. We have already seen some quick wins for our team.”

5. Partner – don’t fly solo

Playing to your strengths is great advice for sport – and business.

Think of digital transformation as a team sport – and you can’t win a team game playing by yourself. There will be some aspects of a digital transformation you can do – and others where the expertise of an experienced partner is essential.

Don’t go it alone. Even as technologists, we partner with other technologists who specialise in different areas to deliver holistic solutions. 

When Rik Johnson was working with Stellar Group and needed assistance in conversational design they partnered with VERSA to get the job done.

The collaboration delivered better results than trying to do it inhouse, Rik explains: “That was probably one of my big learnings whilst I was at Stellar- I tapped in the VERSA team because we were looking at a conversational design project that was way too complicated to do on our own. I could have tried to build it myself and it would have been an absolute disaster, but it wasn't - because I found the right specialists.”

Rik’s advice? Partner up. “Go and talk to other people, whether they are vendors or other people who have implemented something similar because this is a shared learning journey. Don't be afraid of it, ask a lot of questions and, yes - call in the pros, call the specialists.”

Discover what’s possible

By following those 5 Ps as you embark on a digital transformation journey, you’ll lay the foundation for a successful project – and you’ll achieve two more P’s in the process as your organisation ‘Pushes’ the boundaries of what’s ‘Possible’.