#CXOTALK: Digital transformation and customer engagement

Being customer-centric and overcoming organizational silos are among the hardest parts of digital change. A seasoned Chief Digital Officer explains how to get it done.
Written by Michael Krigsman, Contributor

As marketers adopt the phrase, "digital transformation," it has lost specific meaning and descended into a limbo state of vague jargon and buzzwords. However, in the hands of a knowledgeable practitioner, digital transformation means an organization that places customers at the center of its operations and processes.

For episode 187 of CXOTALK, I spoke with Mayur Gupta, who is a genuine digital practitioner. Coming from an executive background in consumer products marketing, Mayur is now Chief Digital Officer of Healthgrades, which is trying to reinvent the relationship between patients and healthcare providers.

Most important, how well do we know our audience, their concerns, and the levers that shape their decision to buy.

Although the conversation was wide-ranging, Mayur was particularly eloquent sharing his advice on the importance of customer focus. For that reason, we created a short clip specifically for ZDNet, with his comments on this point.

Watch the clip below and listen to the entire, 45-minute episode. An edited transcript is below, but you can also read a complete transcript of the full episode.

What are the most important elements of digital transformation?

The first and foremost facets of digital transformation are putting the consumer right in the center, not just in your thinking but your execution and operations. In how you define success, what does value look like for you, and who is a protagonist of your story?

Digital transformation is not about it just technology. It's not just about automation. It means redefining your business model. It means redefining consumer engagement and the value you bring and identifying new channels. If you're a manufacturer who's been selling through brick and mortar and now looking at online, at ecommerce, social commerce, or mobile commerce.

It is creating those alternative channels. It is trying to be whatever the consumer wants, agnostic of channel.

The third aspect is driving business operations. Again, depending on who you are and what industry you may be in, it could be anything from what GE is doing, to automating and digitizing back end operations within healthcare. It could be what manufacturers are doing; it's supply-chain. It could be with 3D printing. I think all those examples is really the third bubble within digital transformation.

What about breaking silos?

It's convergence at many levels. It's convergence from a data standpoint; we spoke about that because, again, agnostic of industry, we all believe we know the consumer based on the data. But we really don't, because our data is fragmented, either by channel or online and offline. It's how you drive conversations so that you truly understand her as one individual, as one human being.

How do you drive convergence in terms of your technology ecosystem? We often talk about marketing technologies and how big an industry that's becoming. But the opportunity there is not how many of these technologies you bring, but how well-connected they are.

And thirdly, how you drive convergence from experience and engagement standpoint? Where you don't look at the world as digital and physical, or digital and traditional, but truly believe it's one world that we operate in.

The bottom line is everything that we do in our world is either isolated by channel and touch points or isolated by the different components of an industry. And where we have to go, rather quickly, is breaking down the silos, driving convergence at the macro level and a micro-level.

Thinking about consumer value, some organizations like Amazons, Uber, and Aetna realize it. They are the ones breaking down the silos and barriers. And hence, they drive much stronger consumer experience, better and stronger consumer value, and storytelling.

Ultimately that's what drives loyalty. That's what strengthens your brand affinity and maximizes the lifetime value.

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