Digital’s Commercial Imperative
  • Customer Focus

Digital’s Commercial Imperative

4 Principles of Digital Transformation: Customer Experience, Innovation, Collaboration, and Co-creation


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Speaking at Vlerick Business School’s Digital Leadership Summer School, the dean of Vlerick, Professor Marion Debruyne, encapsulated the root cause of the disruption triggered by digital technologies:

“Customer expectations are becoming increasingly more complex…And if something is unsatisfactory, these same customers will be the first ones to announce their dissatisfaction to the entire world.”

In this she pinpoints customer experience as the key focus in how companies must face the challenge of digital transformation. Much discussion about the digital economy is around such things as big data, social media, and the internet of things. Whereas from a commercial perspective ‘digital’ needs to extend beyond these concepts to realise a customer-centric imperative.

“If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.” Jack Welch.

Welch’s famous quote, made at GE's Annual Report 2000, is now more pertinent than ever in our fast moving, always-on, world where customers have more power than ever thanks to the internet, social media and mobile communications. 

In a recent article, Professor Stijn Viaene of Vlerick Business School expands on the Vlerick Business School approach and explains why management boards should take account of four key principles.

This is an extract from the article written by Frederik Tibau and originally published in Data News:

“The digital economy is founded upon four key principles,” says Viaene. “The most important of these is the customer experience. The products and services themselves are no longer sufficiently convincing: the total experience is the most valuable asset you have to win consumers over. Or do you really think that the shoes Zalando sells are better than the ones sold at the shoe shop around the corner?”

Another principle is that you have to continually try out new things and view things from different angles. Additionally, the best decisions you make are based on analyses derived from the data you gather. A company like Spotify excels at that. It is a start-up that adores experimentation and unleashes new features on its users almost every week.

Viaene adds: “A third principle is collaboration. As big, slow-moving organizations are seldom able to reinvent themselves, this provides an impetus for the formation of strategic partnerships. Mastercard is an excellent example of this. The company aims to be one of the leading players in mobile payments, and offers a standardised platform that banks can package as their very own e-wallet. Samsung, for example, uses Mastercard payment technology for its Samsung Pay service.”

The last principle hinges upon the growing importance of digital ecosystems. “Take a look at General Electric. This company’s key weapon in the ‘internet of things’ arena is called Predix, a software program to which you can link numerous apps and devices through the open API. Leaders in digitisation are making their key digital assets increasingly accessible to an ever-broadening range of partners. Co-creation is no longer a dirty word: on the contrary.”

To help organizations better acquaint themselves with the above principles, Vlerick will be running another a Digital Leadership Summer School this coming August.

In this short video Professor Stijn Viaene discusses the four realities of digital transformation:

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