Podcast: One of the biggest barriers to digital transformation? The Board.

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On the third episode of the Eden Talks podcast, Maria Morais of SAP and Kevin Murray of Greenlight Commerce discussed the fast-tracked evolution of digital and the barriers that are stopping organisations from realising their digital potential.

One of the biggest hurdles for businesses to overcome when creating a true digital commerce strategy is their board, believes Maria Morais, global industry director – consumer industries at SAP.

Morais was speaking with Rob Furnivall, director of partnerships at Edenhouse on the latest episode of Eden Talks, the new podcast from Edenhouse, and held strong views about a critical roadblock for businesses that want to fast track digital progression.

“Digital transformation comes from applying technology and creativity to solve a business problem, and what we really need is board-level members to understand digital transformation, not just the CIO, not just the chief digital transformation officer, but everyone,” she said.

“This is where we currently have a little bit of an issue because many board members in many big companies in the world do not understand digital transformation.

“They don't speak digital fluidly, and they are expecting the CIO or the chief digital officer to solve all these problems.

“That's not how we can progress. We need everyone to speak digital, including the board-level members.

“There are many companies where we have, at the operational and tactical level, people speaking digital, you have the CIO or the CTO trying to drive transformation, but then you have 80 per cent of the board-level members thinking linear thinking, old school [thinking, and] that needs to change.”

The fast acceleration of digital evolution

Kevin Murray of Greenlight Commerce was also a guest on the podcast, and discussed how it’s imperative that businesses across the world embrace a cohesive customer experience, powered by digital.

“There’s been a massive acceleration in the realisation of how important digital commerce is now,” said Murray.

“If you look at past trends and future trends, there was the concept of online, then people built shops online, which then evolved into this idea of multichannel commerce.

“We then had the concept of omnichannel commerce, which came about 10 years ago; the idea of taking all these different channels and trying to make sure you have a very consistent experience, where if you decide to start a journey on a mobile, then you go away and research and come back and purchase on a desktop, you want the experience to be consistent.

“The trend now for digital selling and buying online is to have that great experience of consistency, for anybody who wants to buy anything at any time on any device.

“It sounds basic, but that’s because lots of businesses have yet to realise this key thing, and there’s an accelerated trend for businesses to want that consistent experience.”

Online or offline? It’s business

During that omnichannel phase of digital evolution, there was a significant move towards automation and a mentality that looked at the online side of a business and the offline side of the business.

This is also evolving quickly – fast-tracked by COVID-19. Businesses have been forced to take goods and services online, and customers have been forced to use online services, such as ordering groceries online.

There’s no divide between online business and offline business any longer. It’s business.

Morais said this evolution is replicated inside good businesses too – offering SAP as an example.

“There’s no divide between IT and business anymore, everyone is digital,” she said.

“It took us some time to get to this point, but now that we are here all of the demands that customers are making, such as seamless experiences, are creating the right type of pressure for the business, and technology tries to bring it to a different level.”

And within that whole-of-business approach to thinking of digital, it’s important to recognise that e-commerce isn’t a single transaction on a website. It’s actually an end-to-end strategy.

“E-commerce doesn’t start on a website,” said Murray. “E-commerce starts way, way before that.

“It’s this idea of digital experiences. You have your automated email platform and your customer cloud identification platforms so that, before anyone comes to shop with you, you've actually acquired customers… that’s e-commerce.

“After the purchase is made – actually, that’s e-commerce too. People want returns, they want follow-ups, they want to evangelise about the products, they want to complain about the products.

“E-commerce is not just buying anymore, it's the whole experience, it’s end-to-end and therefore [we need to think of it as] digital commerce, because it's not just the websites or any form of transaction, it's a complete, end-to-end transformation of the business.”

You just need the right people in place to give that transformation a firm thumbs-up.

Tune in to the third episode of the Eden Talks podcast to hear more on how businesses can quickly adopt a digitally-focused business model, how to tackle resistance, and how consumer brands can do a lot more to help customers make easy environmental choices.

Available on Spotify and Apple Podcast.

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