Digital Transformation Management: Culture Change
Digital transformation may have a start date, but it shouldn’t have an end date. Because it will change your organization forever (for good or ill), it’s imperative that organizations doing digital transformation manage the “soft side”—the cultural change— that will make or break their initiative. We’ll talk about this in terms of B2B ecommerce, but these principles are relevant to any kind of digital transformation.
In a previous post, we talked about the need to define the role of Ecommerce Lead at your organization. In this post, we’ll discuss how the Ecommerce Lead must guide cultural change. If you haven’t read that post, go read it now to understand why the Ecommerce Lead is so important. You’ll need that perspective to understand who should drive this cultural change.
Are you familiar with the Ecommerce Lead? Then let’s dive in. Here’s how the Ecommerce Lead must curate cultural change at your company.
Making cultural change the first pillar of digital transformation
Who is digital transformation for? Ultimately, it’s for your customer. If you’re launching digital transformation through ecommerce, you’re trying to serve your customer through digital tools that make you easier to do business with. That must be first and foremost.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult for staff to understand how digital transformation benefits their part of the organization – and the customer – creating a win-win. This leads to perspectives “stove piped” by functional areas. When large organizations become internally focused, it’s incredibly difficult to create the cultural change required for a customer-first digital transformation.
And without that cultural change, your digital transformation will die on the vine–affecting your customer’s experience and company’s goals and benefits.
You need to make the cultural shift a key pillar of your digital transformation from the very beginning. That way, you can nurture your people and lead them successfully into the new digital ways of doing business.
How do you do that? By understanding the direct impact that digital transformation will have on their jobs. That starts with identifying the key stakeholders within your organization.
Identifying your stakeholders
This part is fairly easy. Outline the current business processes which your digital transformation will touch, whether in a big way or a small way. In other words, answer the question, “What legacy business workflows am I replacing? Who’s responsible for those processes today?”
Typically, digital transformation in the form of ecommerce will touch 5 main roles across your organization:
- Customer Service
Curating culture change with each stakeholder
Now that you’ve identified your stakeholders, it’s time to ask yourself, “How will our new ecommerce initiative affect their jobs?” You should identify Opportunities, the positive ways in which transformation will affect each role. But don’t stop there; you should also identify Threats—the attitudes toward transformation that could hinder each stakeholder’s buy-in, whether those threats are real or perceived.
For each stakeholder we identified above, here are a few sample Opportunities and Threats.
- Opportunities: Ecommerce and digital self-service takes away tedious, manual order entry . CSRs can focus on value-added activities and increase job fulfillment, as well as have happier customer interactions.
- Threats: If CSRs see their job strictly as order entry, they may see ecommerce as a replacement for them. Develop a plan for pivoting CSRs to new value-added activities.
- Opportunities: Ecommerce with personalized product recommendations gives Sales reps a chance to increase their sales intelligence and create more value for customers. Ecommerce also makes order entry easier, allowing Sales reps to buy on behalf of their customers (if it’s set up that way.)
- Threats: Clearly, Sales reps may see ecommerce as a threat to their income. If customers can shop and buy through self-service, won’t Sales reps lose out on commission? Craft a plan for protecting commissions for customers who buy through ecommerce. For more detail, see this post: Partnering With Sales for Ecommerce Success.
- Opportunities: Ecommerce gives Marketing a fantastic vehicle to drive revenue. From promotions, to personalized recommendations, to SEO potential, it’s a digital marketer’s dream.
- Threats: Marketing may see ecommerce as a threat if your chosen solution doesn’t support the functionality they need. Get their buy-in early by listening to their needs and choosing a solution that supports them.
- Opportunities: If it’s fully integrated to SAP (as Corevist Commerce is), ecommerce allows IT to rest easy at night. No batch updates, no order errors, and live SAP business rules working in the web store—all this relieves the anxieties of your IT staff.
- Threats: Lack of real-time integration to SAP is the greatest threat which ecommerce presents to IT. Ensure you have this covered by choosing a solution that integrates to SAP (like Corevist Commerce).
- Opportunities: Electronic payments and instant order posting to SAP simplify the work of your finance department. The more revenue you move to ecommerce, the less your Finance team will have to track down paper invoices and process paper checks.
- Threats: Finance may be concerned that your ecommerce workflow can’t account for the nuances of payment processing. Make sure you pick a solution that can map to those nuances, then communicate those details to Finance.
The next level: Finding evangelists
So you’ve identified your key stakeholders. You’ve identified the Opportunities for each, and you’ve identified potential Threats, whether real or perceived. Now let’s take it to the next level. You need to identify and nurture evangelists—ideally, at least one from each stakeholder group.
What does an evangelist look like? It’s not enough for them to be great at their job today. You need people who are more than “subject matter experts”—people who can see the big picture, who understand the benefits of your ecommerce transition for the customer and their function within that relationship. You also need people who aren’t afraid to share that perspective, both within their department, and across the organization as a whole.
Your ideal CSR or Sales Manager evangelist sees the value that ecommerce will provide the customer and becomes a front-line advocate.
The back office can offer ecommerce champions, too. An ideal Finance evangelist is someone who’s passionate about online bill payments and can articulate the value that this brings to customers.
Those are just two examples, but you get the picture. You need a specialist who has a passion for customer experience and “gets it” when it comes to the purpose of digital transformation.
It’s not enough to find your evangelists. You need to nurture them, too—by getting them engaged early and often. Let them speak, and listen when they speak.
A key tenet of any digital transformation is, “If we’re making back end processes harder than they are today, something’s wrong.” Listen to your stakeholders and evangelists as they discuss the impact on backend processes. Point out the ways in which digital transformation makes those processes easier, and encourage your evangelists to talk early and often with their coworkers about those improvements.With care and attention, the “new” way of doing business will flourish–and become “the way” of doing business!
Moving forward: FREE case study
Wondering how cultural change looks in real life? Download this case study on PARI Respiratory. You’ll learn how this 106-year-old manufacturer launched ecommerce that met the needs of all stakeholders and become Easier To Do Business With (ETDBW) in the process.
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