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What exactly is digital transformation? I recently had a CEO ask me to give a one-sentence description, and I was momentarily stuck without an answer (which is pretty rare, for those of you who know me). The official description I have been using in webinars and conference presentations is, "Digital transformation is the transformation of people, process, and technology to fully leverage the changes and opportunities of digital technologies."

I later asked my friend Tarik Mahmoud for his thoughts, and he provided a similar description, saying that “Digital transformation means incorporating and enabling technology into workflow and processes to streamline business conduct and simplify operations."

The Digital Part of Digital Transformation

The answer that I ultimately offered the questioning CEO was this: Digital transformation is enabling the transparent enterprise. My thinking is that the broad definition of “digital” includes social media, communities and digital messaging applications, and let’s face it, there is no place to hide from today’s customers.

Much of the work evaluating new technology platforms is now done prior to contacting a sales rep, as prospects are mining public information to understand details on products, outages, customer sentiment, response rates, etc. was a leader in revealing how many enhancements in each product release were driving by crowdsourced customer requests. Communities have pushed part of the burden of product support away from the technical support team and onto the shoulders of community participants, i.e., customers, partners, and other industry experts—and most of these discussions are open to the public.

Tracking Digital Transformation Trends and the Impact on Technology Companies

While I think the concept of the transparent enterprise is fun to explore, it doesn’t do justice to the complexity, sophistication, and enabling technology required for the infrastructure of the digital enterprise. In sessions planned for our upcoming Technology & Services World Conference in Las Vegas, I am hoping to do two things:

To kick-start this process, my recent Virtual Summit, “Digital Transformation And Its Impact On Technology Firms,” included presentations on how companies are embracing digital technologies. The Summit included presentations from JDA Software, Coveo, Tableau, IBM, Informatica, Ciena, as well as two of my peers from TSIA: Laura Fay, VP, XaaS Product Management Research, and Karolin DiCristina, Principal Member Success Manager (and my current research mentoring protégé). If you weren’t able to attend the live Virtual Summit, I would encourage you to view the recording to catch up on what you missed. It’s a lot of great information packed into three hours and well worth your time.

Also as part of the Virtual Summit, I released a new research report, “Building the Digital Infrastructure for Support,” which breaks down AI/ML into various use cases, including auto-response and routing logic, interactive engines such as chat bots, intelligent unified search, and sentiment analysis. While obviously not an exhaustive list of every type of AI used by Support, it at least lays a groundwork for discussion beyond generic AI/ML.

digital infrastructure of support  

The digital infrastructure of Support.

Learn More About Digital Transformation at Technology & Services World

We will be building on this at TSW, including my preconference keynote at noon on Monday, October 22. After the great feedback from my panel discussion at our Spring TSW, I’m doing another panel, this time with experts on various types of digital technology. Panelists include some presenters from my Virtual Summit, including Ashok Gunasekaran, VP, Customer Support & Technologies, Informatica, who will be discussing their advanced analytics for customer success, as well as Karolin DiCristina from TSIA, who is doing research on virtual/merged/augmented reality.

Also on the panel is Krishna Raj Raja, Founder & CEO, SupportLogic, Inc., an expert on mining existing CRM content for sophisticated sentiment and relationship analysis, and Elizabeth Tsui, Head of Customer Success, Americas, Blue Prism, who will discuss how companies are using robotic process automation (RPA).

Other sessions related to real-world examples of digital transformation to checkout at TSW include:

  • “Driving CX with AI for Customer Engagement to Agent Enablement,” presented by LogMeIn
  • “Our Story of Digital Awareness and Business Transformation,” presented by F5 Networks
  • “Diary of a Chief Revenue Officer: Digitally Transforming Sales and Marketing for Success When Market Conditions Fundamentally Change,” presented by Hexagon PPM
  • “How We Created a Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming a Data Driven Organization,” presented by Tableau
  • “Emerging Service Use Cases for Augmented, Virtual, and Merged Reality,” presented by TSIA
  • “The Digital Transformation Journey,” presented by Ellucian
  • “5 Lessons Learned in Our Journey Toward ML-Powered Support,” presented by VMware
  • “Digital Transformation at F5 Networks,” presented by F5 Networks
  • “The Value of End-to-End, Connected Service in a Digital World,” presented by ServiceNow
  • “Applying Digital Technologies to Meet the Needs of Its Customers,” presented by ServiceNow

As you can see, I am addressing the input from TSIA members and conference attendees that we need to go from concept to reality on the topic of digital and AI/ML, and I’m very pleased so many technology leaders will be sharing their stories, their successes, as well as the challenges faced along the way, all part of the digital transformation process.

I look forward to seeing all of you in Las Vegas! And as always, thanks for reading!

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John Ragsdale

About Author John Ragsdale

John Ragsdale is a distinguished researcher and the vice president of technology ecosystems for TSIA. His area of expertise is in creating strategies for improving the service operations and overall customer experience by leveraging innovative technology. John works closely with TSIA’s partner ecosystem, identifying leading and emerging technology vendors whose products help solve the key business challenges faced by TSIA members. He is also author of the book, Lessons Unlearned, which chronicles his 25-year career inside the customer service industry.

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