The Six Laws Of Digital Transformation

The Six Laws Of Digital Transformation

The Forrester CX Marketing Summit has come and gone, and all that’s left are the little pearls of wisdom divulged by speakers. One of those speakers was the vice president of global strategy for Singapore Post, Timothy Lee, who spoke from experience in terms of fighting the digital fight and coming out on top.

Hannah Edensor
Posted by Hannah Edensor

“There’s a difference between optimisation and transformation,” he said. “Almost all industries are good at optimisation and almost none are good at transformation.”

“If you have an optimisation mindset you’re not going to think about how to transform the company over the long run.”

Lee has six laws to stick to when undergoing a digital transformation, citing Uber, Airbnb, and Facebook as brands who have nailed the shift.

Law #1: Grand Vision (with a quiet roadmap)

“If you’re going to go big, go really big. But when you climb that rock climb it quietly, don’t tell everyone about it,” Lee explained.

Xiaomi is a good example of this. They started with just smartphones, pierced into headphones, go-pros, routers, then went into things like water purifiers and air purifiers.

“What they’ve done is gone direct to the consumer, branded their own product, their own user interface, and now they are close to the customer and have found their grand vision without broadcasting it from day one. Consider how are you doing it in the long run and rather than shout about it, just build the best product quietly.”

Law #2: Move Upstream

This step was about redefining who you as a brand are serving, how you’re serving them and to what degree.

“In the ecommerce value chain, SingPost was just doing delivery 10 years ago, we were at the end of the food chain,” Lee said.

“We had a burning platform of urgency, it was declining and we needed to get out of that business and into a new one. We bought a tonne of warehouses so we could package those ecommerce parcels not just deliver them.

“Then we bought one of the best web platforms out of Silicon Valley, got a payment system, thought about customer service, started doing marketing.”

In the end, Lee explained, major global clients like Calvin Klein were even outsourcing their marketing, CRM and even online store operations to SingPost.

Law #3: Agile Iteration (by empowering your frontline)

Lee said if there’s one thing you need in the digital world, it’s a strong frontline for your customers, and that training should be at the top of the priority list of any brand.

“More direct feedback and communication from the frontline to the top can make sure a company works more seamlessly and faster to respond to customer feedback.”

Law #4: Complex Ecosystems

This guideline is all about knowing which market you sit in and understanding it fully, and this can be achieved through a unique path dependency.

“If you’re competing you need to think in terms of which ecosystem am I in, how do I learn?” Lee explained. “You need to be thinking in the right way and moving quickly in the right way.”

Law #5: Global Networks Effects

“Traditional industries don’t move as quickly as new technology like Facebook and Snapchat,” Lee said.

But going viral is still a big deal for a company, and Lee said you need to make your product “more like these” social media giants to get customers spreading messages about your brand to each other faster and becoming more widespread.

Law #6: Deep Subject Matter Expertise

“As former American Express CEO Harvey Golub said, ‘I am a T-shaped man’,” Lee said.

But what the hell does that mean? It means you need to hire people with both horizontal and vertical skills, he explained, who can look at challenges from not just an industry perspective, but across a broad range of spectrums.

“And when you find someone like that, don’t tell them what to do, unleash them,” Lee added. “We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”

“Digital transformation is all about thinking really big and taking huge risks.”