Digital Transformation is about technology-enabled people.
23 July 2018

Sales, marketing and other functions need to be digitally empowered and employees are the key.


An often overlooked aspect of digital transformation is that its success depends on several factors including employees and the enabling technology. Digitally savvy workers are the key to transforming companies and such workers are often very difficult to find and train.

Studies have shown that the availability of technology and its use is seldom an issue in digital transformation. Employee pushback1, lack of expertise to lead digitisation initiatives, along with organisational structure are the top three challenges in digital transformation initiatives.

Before delving further into the people aspect, it is useful to ask the question: Do digitally transformed companies perform better than peers who have yet to make the transformation journey? In other words, is digital transformation worth the effort?

The answer is an unequivocal yes and that is the reason why all companies, irrespective of sector or size, need to plan for and execute their digital transformation journey in order to survive and prosper.

A global study of more than 3,000 companies done last year by SAP, in collaboration with Oxford Economics, showed that 80 per cent of companies which are acknowledged digital transformation leaders expected 23 per cent higher revenue, versus 53 per cent for everyone else. The same leaders have an 85 per cent increased market share expectation versus 39 per cent for everybody else.


Customer experience

One of the key aspects is customer experience which plays a vital role in the success of digital transformation2. Many digital initiatives stem from customers expecting that content important to them is available anytime, anywhere, according to their needs3.

Customers no longer rely on traditional forms of information gathering, like advertisements to determine the quality of a product or business. A study4 showed that nearly 9 in 10 customers read online reviews to determine the quality of a local business or product and, out of which, 39 per cent do so regularly. The Internet and social media has changed the way consumers decide on their product preferences. Things like branded content and influencer marketing are gaining importance and marketing and sales departments need to keep up with these trends.

While the digital customer experience is a relatively well covered subject, organisations need to realise that there must also be alignment with employees and workers for digital transformation to succeed. In other words, employees need to have the necessary tools and empowerment to be able to serve the digitally savvy customer’s needs.

This empowerment is important because the traditional approach to functions such as marketing and sales need to change in order to keep up with the new customer behaviour. Start with the customer journey and develop an online strategy for every stage of their buying cycle starting with awareness, nurture and conversion. This requires both marketing and sales to have an online-to-offline and offline-to-online strategy that gives customers the experience that is most convenient for them. For this to happen, organisations should recognise the digital workplace which forms the construct of building the digital experience.

Digital workplace

According to Gartner5, organisations need to focus on building a digital workplace which makes it easier for employees to get their work done. This includes greater ease of dealing with customers. The digital workplace should allow for an interaction model that makes it easy for employees to communicate both with customers as well as internally with one another. An omni-channel solution to communicate on the right mode at the right time, on the appropriate platform to both customers and fellow employees, should be fundamental for digital transformation.   For example, some customers may prefer to be reached via eDM while others prefer messaging.  Your communication channel should be flexible to reach customers via their preferred channels. Consider using rich text messaging that enable users to do pretty much the same as eDM, where URL links can be embedded into SMS for users to RSVP, sign up or view a web page.

Internal communications can use omni-channel solutions to automate process flows. This entails one department to notify another department via email or messaging automatically when one process ends and another begins. Having the right people to spot the opportunity to automate is key to transform digitally.

Similarly, combining the advent of Cloud technologies with Office phone functionalities, unified communication now brings all the PBX capabilities to mobile. Sales staff can hot-desk and still be reachable via their traditional deskphone numbers through integration of mobile network and fixed line network. For example, customers will see the fixed line call-ID instead of the sales staff mobile number even though the call was placed from their mobile. This technology enables the customer to continue engaging with the organisation even with sales staff turnover.

Using technology

So, where does this leave employees in this age of digital transformation? Deloitte6 says that the concept of a career is being “shaken to the core” by a new culture of constant learning to build new skill sets quickly. New learning models are challenging the concept of a static career and reflect the need to constantly learn new skills that are critical for a 21st-century organisation.

As briefly touched upon before, during a company’s transformation journey, the sales and marketing teams need to adapt in order to serve digitally savvy customers. As noted by Microsoft7 proper tools are critical if organisations want to truly empower their sales teams. Sales teams need to make use of artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics to gather insights, not just for better productivity but to know who, what and when the customer will buy. A data driven approach is a must for sales and marketing teams in today’s omni-channel world of online and offline stores, customer outreach and predictive marketing.

For CIOs and other transformational executives tasked with leading the organisation are often better off leveraging on a tech/digital enabler and partner to both reduce complexity and reduce uncertainty associated with transformation. More importantly, such partners can often provide the training, solutions and skillsets to develop digitally savvy and tech enabled workers to ensure that companies thrive and prosper in today’s digital marketplace.

For more information on how your staff can be technologically enabled and to learn more about the tools to accelerate your digital transformation, go to


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