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Organizations that tackle digital transformation get positive results for their bottom lines. It's not a completely failproof strategy, however, according to the Constellation Research 2018 Digital Transformation study released earlier this month, 68 percent of businesses said their digital transformation efforts have yielded a positive ROI. 

The big questions are how do you get there and how does the effort impact customer experience (CX)? Naturally, companies that want to digitally transform in order to power customer experiences need to build a strong internal digital team. Who is taking the reins? Constellation Research found that CIOs (33 percent) predominantly lead digital transformation strategies, followed by CEO (23 percent), chief digital officer (20 percent) and CMO (9 percent). Last year’s report found CEOs leading the way (at 29 percent) ahead of CIOs (19 percent).

The "how" in building digital teams to enable CX is also a big question for organizations, three practitioners share their insights as to what’s important to them when building digital teams to power their customer experiences plans.

Know Who to Have in the Digital Room

As it relates to digital teams, it is important that the following capabilities are represented within the team, according to Rob Krugman, chief digital officer for Broadridge:

  • Digital strategy/vision - An individual who can define a vision across a portfolio of products that looks to drive the organization to someplace new.
  • Product managers - Gone are the days where a product manager can come from a non-technical background. In the digital world, a product manager must have a strong understanding of technology, excellent research skills and be prepared to speak to clients and prospects on a frequent basis.
  • Scrum masters - Leveraging an Agile framework requires a strong scrum master (who may work across multiple teams) to drive sprints, uncover blockers and continue moving forward.
  • Usability and design lead - A strong UX resource needs to not only be proficient in UX/UI, but also have a strong background in usability testing and analysis.
  • Development - Cloud-first businesses should look for developers that understand a microservices-based approach and have a desire to build differentiating capabilities on top of commoditized services, vs. building everything themselves.

Getting Agile and Delivering on Intent

Nathalie Latourelle, manager of digital experience (DX), MPO, at the National Bank of Canada, said her teams are now in the process of building larger tasks forces to increase the value of big digital projects. A big part of that effort? The extension of the agile methodology and sprint alignments to different teams. “We really want to place the client at the center of all activities,” Latourelle said. “We have one mission that, in a DX perspective, is meant to create a delightful experience that answers the client’s search intent and needs.”

Latourelle shared that in order to serve their clients, the digital teams are focusing on the following areas:

  • Customer experience and user experience
  • Content management  
  • Analytics
  • Testing and optimization
  • Data management
  • Voice of customer
  • Product owners
  • Business intelligence
  • Marketing
  • Branding 

The next step: Gather information from all those arenas and bring together analysts, designers, content architects, writers, campaign managers, SEO analysts, marketers, sales, front-end developers, CMS experts, A/B testing experts, data analysts, project managers, scrum masters, product owners and so on, Latourelle said.

Related Article: What Does it Take to Build an Effective Digital Team?

Analyzing Customer Needs Through ‘Life Micro-Moments’

The digital teams at National Bank of Canada also want to analyze the customer needs based on what Latourelle calls “life micro-moments,” search intent (SEO) and CX benchmarks and journeys. They want to position their offers with content that can produce dynamic omnichannel content experiences that are measured, tested and ultimately redeveloped if need be. The ultimate goal: better understand the customer’s frame of mind.

Digital Teams: Open and Multi-Disciplinary

“All these people need to work together, understand each other’s realities and expertise,” Latourelle said when it comes to joining digital teams. “They need to be collaborative, curious, data-driven, interconnected and open to a multi-disciplinary and inclusive work environment.”

Digital team members also need to think beyond their own department's focus and position the customer’s need at the forefront to “collectively define the minimal viable experience needed to make the difference for the client and work incrementally to add value.” Digital teams also need overall governance that is linked to the performance management, with continuous improvement and prioritization.

Related Article: How to Structure Your Digital Team: 16 Critical Roles

Experience, Flexibility Serves as Revelation

Krugman said two factors led his company to rethink how they create teams to develop digital solutions. They recognized that CX is the key consideration in determining the success of a product or solution. And they also learned that flexibility is imperative in meeting unique needs across clients.

In building digital teams, they reduced the complexity of product development so that individual teams are empowered to prioritize and make decisions based upon market feedback. “Taking lessons from startups and established digital organizations like Google and Amazon, our teams are small and include the key dedicated resources to deliver enhancements and new capabilities every two weeks in an agile manner,” Krugman said. 

UX Design is Critical

Teams include product manager, developers and infrastructure folks as well as dedicated UX and usability/design experts. “Focusing on usability and design ensures that you consistently ask questions and consider the end user and their needs when prioritizing new functionality,” Krugman said. “This process ensures that priorities are not simply decided by the senior person in the room or the individual with the loudest voice, but by the market and your customers. It is also challenges the team to consistently rethink what is working and what is not, and make appropriate adjustments.”

Related Article: 13 Must-Have User Experience (UX) Design Skills

Provide Leadership for Your Digital Ambition

At the top of the organization, understand the business imperative and establish a value roadmap before implementing any digital initiatives, said Matt Garrepy, chief digital officer for Solodev. Likewise, he added, shape and communicate that vision for your teams. “A digital strategy is often doomed to failure if we don’t understand the purpose,” Garrepy added, “and, more importantly, how it impacts CX. Remember that it isn’t about technology, it’s about empowering people.”

Related Article: How Do You Master Digital Customer Experience Leadership?

Train, Provide Feedback Loops

Garrepy’s teams have also found success in documenting everything they learn about digital and by promoting squad leaders to continuously train and guide teams so they can maximize the value of their digital investments. “Growth can’t happen in an echo chamber,” Garrepy said. “You need real feedback that challenges your assumptions, so you can iterate and improve in a continuous manner. Establish a trusted methodology for capturing feedback from your team and your customers, so you can build not just for your users — but with them.”

Related Article: What Digital Customer Experience Pros Will Focus on in 2019

Hire a Blend of Digital Natives, Digital Adapters

Experienced marketers and technologists learned to bootstrap their knowledge of digital; natives were born into it, Garrepy said. “Blending these talents also reflects the diversity of users in the marketplace,” he added, “so having these professionals collaborating can have a significant impact on customer experience.”

School Everyone in Compliance and Governance

Between GDPR and ADA accessibility, every organization is under pressure to get its digital house in order. Teams need to understand what policies exist, what’s at stake and how to be proactive in managing their impact on compliance. “Train your people to be aware and proactive,” Garrepy said. “It’s also important to remember the customer experience when it comes to the regulatory environment; for ADA as an example, it’s not just about mitigating risk for your company, it’s about ensuring digital equality for users and providing the best customer experience for everyone.”