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Digitalisation Is a Matter of Business Survival — Michael Solomon, Senior Product Manager at Viasat


Digitalisation is not a choice anymore – but a matter of business survival for companies to stay agile in a constantly changing technology evolution and to further streamline its revenue. While 79% of companies plan to digitalise their business to create new revenue streams, many companies are still slow in making the change.

As the landscape is changing and disruptive forces abound today’s business environment, companies need to be attentive and rely on the right talent to train and retain existing talents as well as to carry out new business modals.

In this interview, we ask Viasat Inc Senior Product Manager Michael Solomon, who’s strength is adapting to changes, to share some of his insights which include ways to create an effective digital transformation process with our readers.

What’s inside?

  1. Importance of Digital Transformation for Every Business
  2. Benefits of Implementing Digital Transformation
  3. Digital Transformation Process – The Roadmap to Success
  4. Four Ways to Approach Massive Digital Transformation
  5. The Need for Outsourcing Digital Transformation
  6. Why Is Digital Transformation a Window Into the Future?
  7. Lessons Learned
  8. Who is Michael Solomon?

Importance of Digital Transformation for Every Business

Technology is not only improving our lives, but it also makes work operations more accessible in many industries. In an economic environment that is constantly changing as technology evolves, digital transformation enables companies to better compete, keep up with emerging customer demands and survive into the future. 

Essentially, digital transformation is all about using technology to repair the old operating models, facilitate experimentation, automate processes, expedite operations, and become more agile in responding to customer needs. 

To adapt, companies must fundamentally change the way they operate, rethink their status quo, and adjust their course of action as soon as possible.

Before we dive into how companies should get the best out of the digital transformation process, let’s go through the main benefits of digital transformation.

Benefits of implementing digital transformation

Digital transformation gives companies a unique opportunity to combine best practices and ways of doing things that will result in new techniques, skills, and, of course, new sources of income. 

Here are some of its key benefits:

  • Contributes to the reduction of business costs.
  • Improves productivity and operational efficiency.
  • Opens the door to new business opportunities and revenue streams, enabling the development of new products and services.
  • Gives a competitive advantage by enhancing the quality of the products manufactured.
  • Decentralized production by facilitating mobility and remote communication.
  • Attracts new talent and specialised professionals.
  • Improves integration of digital technology into all areas of a business and internal collaboration by facilitating communication between company departments.
  • Drives a culture of innovation, preparing the company to anticipate future disruptions.
  • Increases the response speed to new market demands and changes.
  • Empowers decision-making by deepening data analysis.

Digital Transformation Process – The Roadmap to Success

To ensure you will achieve the benefits we mentioned above, the first place to start is building a digital transformation roadmap. It’s a structured way to ensure that your transformation initiatives will always match your company’s core objectives, mission, and vision.

But how do you build a roadmap? 

1 step: Start with the assessment of the current digital strategy of your business

2 step: Define the future vision

Once you have these two elements complete, you will have a clear picture of the systemic gaps that need to be filled to succeed in your transformation.

What you should do next is divide your roadmap into the following 4 core elements:

1. People 

This element is all about building and promoting the awareness that an excellent customer experience always starts with developing a customer-centric culture in your company. 

At this point in time, involve everyone at your company in improving processes through cross-functional collaboration. Don’t forget to rethink the role your business partners have in achieving this vision.

2. Processes

This aspect is all about maximising your organizational efficiency and ensuring that your new digital business model is scalable. 

Start by developing a map of the customer journey and carrying out a complete customer lifecycle analysis. Always keep in mind that buyers engage with your brand during every step in the customer lifecycle. 

Diving deep into developing the customer lifecycle journey will allow you to build contextualized campaigns that provide your customers with everything they need at particular stages.

3. Technology

The focus here is on building an integrated information infrastructure as a foundation for integrating the data produced by different departments. Your technology strategy needs to be focused on hardware, software, and information science simultaneously. 

Additionally, you need to build contextualized information architecture for structuring data and enabling predictive data analytics to drive growth. The information architecture you will develop should reflect the priority landscape of your business. It requires all the business stakeholders to come together with IT specialists. 

4. Content

Last but not least, managing your internal and customer-facing content is a must for a successful roadmap. 

Pay attention to all your digital assets to double-check if your product or service information is organised contextually and reflects the different preferences of your buyer personas. Ensure that essential information is easy to find, they are personalised and match the context

Four Ways to Approach Massive Digital Transformation

Here Michael gives us the lowdown on his organisation, and how it’s been very clear from the get-go that digital transformation isn’t a race because it doesn’t happen overnight. Anything worthwhile takes effort, and it involves continuous improvement on an ongoing basis. 

This mindset has been crucial in allowing us to plow on, no matter our challenges. We haven’t felt burdened with tight deadlines and time pressure. Instead, we’re just looking to consistently make minor improvements that’ll eventually add significant benefits for our customers.

To achieve this, we have approached digital transformation from 4 lenses:

1. Organisation

The entire business is working to drive the transformation agenda (this is a holistic effort). We’ve also worked hard to remove the fear of change. When you implement new tools, processes, and systems, people either think their jobs are going to be replaced or that they’ll soon fall behind the curve (and won’t be able to keep up with this digital transformation). 

This fear is absolutely understandable. We made a conscious effort to communicate why these projects not just help our customers, but will make our employees’ lives easier and help them feel more productive at the end of the day.

For instance, that new tool that you might be slightly afraid of can actually transform your job: remove the mundane, data-heavy tasks, and allow you to focus on other, more exciting tasks, and so on. We’ve tried to map internal bottlenecks and pain points to specific tools and projects that will help remove these hurdles for our team.

2. Internal education and transparency

Education is critical – both internally and externally. You can’t simply expect people to just jump on board with a new project or system. Most people fundamentally avoid changes that will make their lives more complex. It’s up to you to explain to them why this short-term complication will actually make their lives easier in the long run. 

We’ve done this in a few ways:

a) Educational platform: We built an internal education platform with micro-courses (10 minutes or less) designed to provide people with short bursts of salient information.

b) Regular communication: We hold regular calls with our team to discuss new topics, run quizzes, and enable live chats with product managers. We wanted to give the team every opportunity to ask any questions they might have and understand why we are doing what we are doing.

c) Microsoft teams: We rolled out Microsoft teams to the entire business to bring us all together and facilitate remote collaboration.

3. Customer

Remember customer comes first. Not to mention that it is the most important step for digital transformation, which requires plenty of work internally, but it’s always designed with an external lens in mind. We’re trying to shift our focus from providing customers with what they desire first, then, we build solutions around their answers.

As an example, when I was working at Digicel Group, we initially held off developing our own music app as we figured that people could just use Spotify or Apple Play. However, when we mentioned the idea of having our own Digicel app to consumers, they loved it. This prompted us to build D’Music, as our own streaming app.

4. Products

Another important tip Michael shared is to always place adequate effort in localising your products to meet the needs of customers’. He said The bigger players aren’t really interested in doing this. They just provide one product, which is why small companies have enormous leverage effect.

However, we felt this was an area where we could have a real competitive advantage. A customer in Aruba will see music recommendations that are localised to their region. This seems like such a small differentiator, but consumers really resonate with this localisation. Instead of just being provided with generic products and services, they want to feel like their individual needs are served.

The Need for Outsourcing Digital Transformation

We are working to revolutionise how customers’ perceive and engage with our brand. This can be a huge challenge if you consider localising your products and services for each market you serve.

We’re also grappling with the issue of dealing with different customer demographics. Our customers span a wide range of income levels, so we need to build relevant products and experiences for all our customers, regardless of their station in life.

We’ve really benefited from effective segmentation, using this to increase our personalisation efforts on digital channels. By deploying a customer data platform (CDP) across the business, we begin to understand better the kinds of content that resonate in different markets. It’s been a methodical, step-by-step approach. We’ve had to start small and grow, being patient and understanding that this will take time to get right.

We realised that working with third parties can be advantageous. Previously, we used to build everything ourselves in-house, but that can over-complicate matters. If we are serious about accelerating digital transformation at scale, we need to be comfortable working with external companies when it makes sense. 

Why Is Digital Transformation a Window Into the Future?

Today, digital transformation is not an option. It is a necessary operation to escape the comfort zone, reinvent your company and compete in this world overrun by technological advances.

Digital transformation has been a kind of slogan for many executives in recent years. 

But so far, this change has been slow. Many companies that claim to be transitioned are still not even halfway there. 

Is your company one of them?

Lessons Learned

  • Digital transformation isn’t a sprint to the finish line. It’s an ongoing, step-by-step process that takes plenty of time and even more effort.
  • Educating your team is just as important (if not more so) than educating your customers. After all, it’s your team that will be rolling out your digital transformation process. If your internal team doesn’t have the technical capabilities, you can always consider an outsourcing provider. 
  • Listen to your customers and learn what they want instead of building what you think they need.

Who is Michael Solomon?

Next Steps

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