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Do your Digital Hygiene first

Recently I had an initial meeting with the Chief Digital Officer in a very well-known company. In this meeting I asked for their number one challenge keeping them awake at night. I expected one of the common responses I hear when I ask this question, “we’re not all working to a single strategy”, “I can’t get buy-in for change at board / management level”, “we don’t have the required budget to make the changes we want”, “things are moving too fast, we’re not sure what to focus on”, “we can’t access our customer data to make decisions” etc etc etc. The answer however was surprising…. Search wasn’t working as well as they would like on their website.

This stopped me in my tracks. I had prepared for an enterprise digital strategy conversation and here I was talking to a very senior person in a large global company and they were talking about what I would consider a hygiene factor in any website. We quickly created a plan in which we could address this concern but I left the meeting wondering – how do we increase the ability to add significant value that is now expected by customers of these large organisations, if we continue to focus on the smaller, incremental changes?

My current hypothesis in this case is to fix search. Simple. Change is a journey not a destination (yes I love a good travel analogy when it comes to digital strategy – but that’s another story [that story is here]). Everyone is starting from a different location. Or as my psychology degree would tell me (finally I have found a use for it – thanks Maslow) there is a hierarchy of needs that have to be met before we can move onto the next phase of maturity. So for this company their website search along with the information architecture and the content editing experience are all hygiene factors that have to be addressed before we can move into creating a more personalised customer experience. This would need to be done before we can really consider a business model transformation.

We like to say our USP at Cucumber is our ability to UNDERSTAND a problem, SMASH it and then PROVE it with data. By focusing on the ‘hygiene’ opportunities first, this enables us to build momentum, create a repeatable USP process within the organisation and the internal capability to move onto the higher value changes required to deliver a customer experience that is truly customer centric.

The key lesson for me in all of this? ‘Digital Transformation’ is the current front page news but this will only be successful in organisations that are ready for it and to be ready is as much about a cultural shift as it is a digital one. Starting the cultural shift is fundamentally about starting, understanding the business problem to be solved, doing and proving it.