Endless yards of copy have been devoted to digital transformation, and kings’ ransoms have been spent to hear high-end consultancies preach that retailers and service companies and businesses of all kinds need to crawl from the wreckage of bricks & mortar, shopping bags and cash registers and all that fusty physical stuff and, like, get with the digital program, baby! Main Street? Shopping malls? That’s squaresville! The future is digital!
And of course there was plenty of truth in this. A lot of shopping experiences aren’t the most fun, and consumers have unsurprisingly taken to the idea that ‘it’s nice’ to shop from home and take advantage of wide choice and lower prices too. As for enterprises, they get to work up the customer relationship and… well, you probably know the rest.
So valid enough, but also pretty patronising, because business people use Amazon too, and were more than capable of asking what might be in the virtual world for them, and what they might need to do to get there, without looking at a thousand different PowerPoint variants on the theme of digital transformation.
And besides. Digital transformation is really only half the story. Sure, you can digitise your business, introduce a great portal, e-commerce it to heck and back, but as silver bullets go, it’s pretty tarnished. It’s still got to compete, and if you thought the high street was a crowded market, look at what you’re going up against online, from behemoths like Amazon at one end, to small and nimble start-ups at the other, swarming round your feet like gara rufa fish and taking a thousand little bites out of your digitally transformed value prop.
But maybe there’s another angle.
Digital transformation is a justified response to the internet revolution of the last couple of decades. But hand in hand with that has been the mobile revolution, and maybe businesses need to look at mobile more closely.
How about if your digital transformation went hand in hand with a mobile transformation? That could be something as simple as making sure your digital pitch was properly rendered for a mobile device, and making sure that you had all the geographic angles covered so that you could hit customers and prospects with relevant notifications depending on their location – but those are really table stakes. It can get a lot more radical than that.
As we know’, the handset is central to most users’ lives. For many, it’s the first thing they look at in the morning and the last thing they look at at night. And it accompanies them everywhere in between (don’t dwell on it).
What if that handset was your handset? Carrying your brand, your promotions, maybe your products? Providing an easy channel to your services, guiding customers to your premises, shaped to make buying your primary offering easy? Permanently with the customer? Sound good?
Not possible? Well a lot brands are doing it already. Big retailers with loyal customer bases, whose offering can be parlayed into a mobile concept are already there, but it doesn’t have to stop with supermarket brands. Football clubs have started to get in on the act – well-known brands, with loyal followings and content to promote… is there a pattern here? The network access is coming from an operator, at wholesale rates, but most of the rest – the concept, the marketing, the customer experience – is coming from the enterprise, created to reflect its brand values and promote its primary business. Who else fits this pattern? Big entertainers are practically brands now. High end international fashion lines. Many of these not only boast brand loyalty but have customer followings that don’t expect low prices – that, on the contrary, like to demonstrate their spending power.
Not feasible? You might be surprised. The network side of the business comes from the operator. The business side can equally be outsourced to an expert third party, to provide the business, operational and enterprise software needed to get the business off the ground and running, and the consultancy that will make the initiative a success. The enterprise’s contribution can come down to as little as innovation, differentiation and ideas.
And as ideas go, not having to fight for attention on the crowded real estate of the customer’s sidebar, but front and centre whenever he or she picks up the handset – just a hundred or so times a day, by the most conservative estimates – doesn’t sound like a bad one.