Successful Digital Transformation Starts with the Customer

By Joerg Niessing

 Running a business in this digital era is truly challenging. And in light of this, Joerg Niessing shares the three chief takeaways for digital players about Telenor Banka’s story and importantly, discusses that customer experience should be at the heart of every digital transformation.


Adapting to the ongoing digitisation of the economy, and of society in general, is arguably the most challenging transformation every business is currently facing. Digital tools and trends are invading the business environment faster than companies can react, provoking significant changes in the way we communicate, consume, work, buy and sell.

The scale and pace of the change brought by “digital” is matched only by large-scale industrial revolutions that leveraged coal or electricity and energised entire industries by removing fundamental constraints under which manufacturing operated, leading to unprecedented increases in productivity and lower costs. Digital media and application platforms are now driving a new revolution, creating richer dynamics between people and disrupting business. But where the electricity revolution empowered and enriched businesses rather than directly individuals, the digital revolution has the potential to empower everybody. Pre-digital revolution, the function of companies was to produce, the function of media was to broadcast and consumers consumed. Digital tools have broken the monopoly of the media, enabling everyone to become a publisher and in some sectors they’ve broken the hold of companies on their industries, such as taxis and hotels. Companies no longer control their own narrative nor do they control the provision of goods and services.

A true digital transformation confers lasting advantage by revolutionising the entire customer experience across all digital touchpoints. The customer experience should be at the heart of every digital transformation.

All these changes do not mean traditional companies are doomed to fail. Companies who embrace the vision and customer centricity necessary to impress consumers across every channel can in fact maintain and even strengthen their position, as examples from L’Oréal, Red Bull, to Maersk or GE show. Although digital technologies are changing the rules of every industry one of the most important “laws in business” has not changed at all: customer centricity and customer orientation. At the end you can only create value and drive profitable growth if you understand not only what customers “need” but also what customers really “want”. However, creating customer value and building long-term relationships are even more challenging in a digital world where customers (a) expect more, (b) are well-informed, (c) trust their peers, (d) have more choices and (e) have a voice.

In today’s “Age of the Customer”, digital technologies and customer centricity have to go hand-in-hand: new channels and touchpoints, new devices, diverse data, multi-dimensional customers, new competitors, social networks, new ways of interacting with customers and other stakeholders. Today, every business is, in part, a digital business and successful companies embrace and deploy digitisation in right places at the right time and are up to 30% more profitable than digital beginners.

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About the Author

p2213787originalJoerg Niessing is an Affiliate Professor of Marketing at INSEAD and the Programme Director of Leading Digital Marketing Strategy, one of INSEAD’s executive development programmes. Niessing has over 13 years of consulting experience building leading brands and delivering profitable growth through distinctive customer insights and data analytics. His expertise includes marketing and branding strategy, marketing analytics, digital and social media marketing, and customer relationship management for different industries.



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