Digital Reality No.1: Customer Experience is Value

By Stijn Viaene

Customer-centric practices have been one of the key considerations in this age of digital transformation. In this article, Professor Stijn Viaene elaborates on how customer experience as value must be prioritised and how the concept can drive an organisation to its success.


The digital economy has put customers firmly in the driving seat. Freely roaming around the Internet, triggered by popups or alerts and assisted by Internet bots, customers are switching between different sites, between their laptops and their mobile apps, combining online searching with offline buying and vice versa, as the boundaries between the online and offline are increasingly blurred. Customers want, and digital allows them, to take control over their lives’ journeys.

Products and services are no longer enough to win over or keep customers in the digital era. The digital space is notorious for how fast it commoditises products and services. Ultimately, value is attributed to the total experience of engaging with customers in ways that fit with their modern connected, mobile and social lives. Making your organisation’s digital transformation work,1 will require a radical shift from taking an inside-out, company-centric product perspective to taking an outside-in, customer-centric experience perspective for creating customer value.2 Sounds simple? Think again. In this article, I summarise what any leader should know about the first reality of competing in the digital world: customer experience is value.

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About the Author

Stijn Viaene is a Full Professor and Partner at Vlerick Business School in Belgium. He is the Director of the school’s Digital Transformation strategic focus area. He is also a Professor in the Decision Sciences and Information Management Department at KU Leuven.



1. Digital transformation was defined as “a form of end-to-end, integrated business transformation where digital technologies play a dominant role” in Viaene, S. (2017). What Digital Leadership Does. The European Business Review, May-June.
2. Understanding the four realities driving competition in the digital age was considered a mandatory starting point for any successful digital transformation in Viaene, S. (2017). Rethinking Strategy for the Digital Age: An Executive Primer. The European Business Review, July-August. In this article we elaborate on the first reality: customer experience is value.
3. Pine, J. & Gilmore, J. (1999). The Experience Economy. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
4. Osterwalder, A. & Pigneur, Y. (2010). Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers and Challengers. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons.
5. A blockchain is a database technology that makes it possible to create a digital ledger of transactions and share it among a distributed network of computers. It uses cryptography to allow each participant on the network to manipulate the ledger in a secure way without the need for a central authority to guarantee the veracity of transactions. Blockchain technology uses security by design to eliminate trusted third-parties or middle men from digital transactions.
6. vom Brocke, J., Schmiedel, T., Recker, J., Trkman, P., Mertens, W. & Viaene, S. (2014). Ten Principles of Good Business Process Management. Business Process Management Journal. 20(4).
7. Anders, G. (2012). Jeff Bezos’s Top 10 Leadership Lessons. Forbes. April 23.


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