It’s Time to Be Digital by Design

Digital is no bolt on. More and more, it’s core to how customer-centric business operates. “You have to become digital by design,” Pegasystems Founder and CEO Alan Trefler said during the opening keynote of Pegaworld 2014. 

Doing so takes three superpowers, he said: the powers to engage, to simplify, and to change. Trefler said companies need to be able to react quickly to customers, interact with them on their terms, and be proactive. They also need to simplify their operations by creating end-to-end processes that bust silos and enable the organization to create a consistent customer experience across channels. And, they need to be able to quickly adapt to change; to use agility as a competitive advantage and differentiator.

“The majority of our clients believe they’re on a transformational journey,” Trefler said during a press and analyst meeting. His advice is to take that journey in steps, not in great leaps. “Develop a rhythm of change,” instead of a big bang.

Making that transformation requires understanding customers and where they are in their lifecycle, as well as interacting with them where and when they prefer and expect it. In other words, being omnichannel and using analytics to dynamically calculate potential outcomes and present customers with the next best action. “Responsive channel engagement,” Trefler said, is how marketers can interact seamlessly with customers across channels and in context.

Companies need a unified architecture that is direct, situational, and powerful to support this, he said. It should enable business leaders to directly set and capture objectives, model best customers and outcomes, and provide a common visual language. It needs to be situational, i.e. layered, by qualities like geography or customer segment. And it needs to be powerful enough to enable a company to deliver the next big thing.

Business process management, Trefler said, is a critical technology for the digital age because it enables companies to operate with the agility they need to stay ahead of the competition today. It’s not about the processes themselves, he said; it’s about thinking of them in the context of outcomes. “What do you want to accomplish?” he asked. Start with the end in mind and think in stages of the customer lifecycle; some processes will be within a stage and some will go across stages. That way, the steps don’t need to be so rigid. They can be guided by an organizing principle that enables the speed of change that today’s digital environment requires.

“You have to make digital and software central to your business,” Trelfer said, adding that business leaders need to bring business and IT staffs together “to improve your competitive position.”

CMOs and CIOs need to lead that transformation together by collaborating and learning more about how each other think. Trelfer pointed out that many executives in a CIO role today have a business background and see themselves as businesspeople as much as technologists; and more and more CMOs have a tech background, especially in digital technologies. Teams that will build the next generation of systems to support customer-centric, digital-oriented business need to blend business and technology, he said. It’s the same with the CIO-CMO relationship. They need to collaborate and understand both marketing and technology or they’ll get killed by competitors that do, Trefler said. “Those with passion for both will be the winners.”

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