Putting the customer at the centre

By Allyson Towle
Johannesburg, 03 Oct 2017

ITWeb Digital Economy Summit 2017

Harness the potential of digital disruption to drive real business benefit by registering to attend the ITWeb Digital Economy Summit now. Click here to register. David Prosser, CEO, ComUnity, plus many other 'giants' and 'start-ups' will present at this event on 7 and 8 November 2017. Click here for the agenda.

David Prosser, CEO, ComUnity, will be presenting at the ITWeb Digital Economy Summit 2017, at the Focus Rooms, Sunninghill, on 7 and 8 November.

ITWeb Events spoke to Prosser about his experience of technology platforms quickly digitising organisations and solving major community-related concerns.

ITWeb Events: Your presentation demonstrates the future of deploying agile digital ecosystems for government and large businesses. Why is this something that is relevant to attendees of this event?

Prosser: It is critical to understand that a lot of digital engagements begin with an app or leveraging a certain digital channel, but organisations don't actually want to build apps or fragmented digital channels and customers don't want to interact with apps or fragmented digital channels.

Digital transformation is about changing the way that you connect services and people, and all of the technology abstractions that lie in between your services, data, networks, devices and people you are looking to serve. This is really just complex digital plumbing. I make the point that it is complex digital plumbing because digital transformation isn't easy it requires broad, deep and very costly skills to achieve digital transformation effectively.

David Prosser, CEO, ComUnity.
David Prosser, CEO, ComUnity.

We believe that we have answers to simplify the way that organisations digitally transform helping them do this significantly quicker, higher quality and more cost-effectively. Some of the significant lessons from us, me (somebody who has built a business like ComUnity) and from our customers, will be invaluable to attendees.

ITWeb Events: Why are businesses going digital and what is the first thing that every business should do before they embark on the digitisation journey?

Prosser: Businesses are going digital because the context of the global economy has changed. The rapid adoption of consumer technologies like the mobile phone, Internet, social media and other technologies that put consumer experience at the centre have really transformed the way that people expect to consume services. Businesses have to transform their operating models to remain relevant in this economy and world.

Over the next five to 10 years, organisations that don't effectively transform the way they deliver their services and products to consumers are not going to be able to compete. And when I say "effectively", I mean in a way that engages the market authentically, engages the market at scale, and not in a fragmented manner as digital projects have done to now and it needs to do this in a cost-efficient and secure way. Digitisation needs to be a business enabler it needs to reduce costs, stimulate core revenues and drive new revenue streams not be a cost to the business.

ITWeb Events: To what degree is digitisation about digitising and automating a manual process, and where can organisations go wrong, going back to the theme of fragmentation?

Prosser: When one starts with your immediate business context, most organisations already have customers that they serve and they have existing manual process to be able to do these. Unfortunately these manual processes don't scale well and they tend to be very costly to maintain and manage. So the first part of the digital transformation journey is to look at these manual processes and how one can turn them into information and then effectively and contextually connect the right person with the right service at the right time to be able to drive your business model.

One of the things that leads on from this is that as one looks at the disruption that is enabled by digitisation, one gets to invent new processes or redefine process. We refer to this as redefining digital value chain for businesses.

ITWeb Events: What has been your biggest learning curve or challenge in the digital disruptive space?

Prosser: I would say the biggest learning curve has been to convince organisations, and particularly the technology organisation within organisations, to really put the customer at the centre of what they are looking to do. To really focus on the experience that they are trying to engender for the customer.

I have experienced that when you do this right and you focus on the outcomes that the customer needs to achieve and how you then service their needs through them achieving these outcomes, everything else flows off of these experiences.

ITWeb Events: Why did you say yes to presenting at the upcoming ITWeb Digital Economy Summit? What is it that you bring to the table?

Prosser: I said yes to presenting at the summit because, going back to the previous question where I said putting the customer experience at the centre of your project is the most important thing, and in terms of the way that organisations think about digitisation, it is very important to think from the outside in.

However, what we have learned, and what our customers are experiencing, is that to deliver this effectively, you have to deliver from core out: data first, operations first and then propagate your digitisation out towards the experiences that you need your customers, business partners, employees and other stakeholders to be able to interact with by whatever device they have available.

ITWeb Events: What would you like the attendees to take away?

Prosser: First digitisation isn't a pet project: it is core to every business's survival and their ability to flourish in the new economy.

This means they need to focus on the money. Make sure that they are being as cost-efficient as possible, focusing on creating value for their customer and to think about the long-term cost of ownership, of digitisation and getting those digital value chains right.

We are very fortunate to be part of a massive socio-economic evolution, this is a time that a lot of people are experiencing anxiety, their business models are being threatened and they are having to relearn how they are going to relate and be related to in the new world of business.

It is an opportunity for us to put what is most important at the heart of what we do every day, that is, our customers and to design our businesses around our customers.