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Article: Thriving and Surviving in the New Digital Landscape - Part 1

Embracing Digital Transformation Conversation Series

This collection of interviews is compiled from Inspired/By, panel discussions about business, design and creativity developed and moderated by Royann Dean. The digital transformation series explores the importance of digital transformation and creative intelligence in business strategy, entrepreneurship and business growth.


Interview 01: Part 01

Thriving and Surviving in the New Digital Landscape

In this interview, Gravette Brown, Chief Commercial Officer at Aliv telecommunications, and Albert Wilson, Senior, Data Analytics at KPMG Bahamas, share their insights on the changing landscape of digital and the tactful implementation of strategies.

Here are the main points:

  • Digital is vital for customer feedback and framing strategies for solutions

  • Creative thinking breeds innovative data implementation

  • Use data to make predictive decisions based on your customers’/ clients’ motivations

  • Don’t fear the disruption! Use this to transform your business to remain relevant in this ever-changing digital landscape.

"Data analytics and data science is one of the burgeoning fields of our time. You must sit back and ask yourself how you create business decisions around that data- how do I identify the trend the customers themselves may not be aware of?" - Gravette Brown, Aliv

First, let’s discuss the external environment of client and customer relations.

Digital is not just about the technological aspect of data collection and analysis. For many companies, it can present opportunities for fundamental growth in customer engagement and experience. What does “digital” mean for your companies?

Garvette Brown (GB): Digital is a way for us to get more accurate customer feedback and provide solutions for our customers - going beyond the bounds of what we typically think about telecommunications companies. It’s a way for us to reach our customer more effectively through our marketing strategies and some of the new techniques we’ve been deploying. It’s a product, a platform, and a communication strategy.

Albert Wilson (AW): We really look at digital transformation on digital strategies as tools that de-layer organizations from that traditional organizational structure and connect the back office to the front office, but then also the middle office. You enhance those synergies across different functions within the organization through these strategies. But it’s really a way of redefining what it takes to be competitive as a company. The world is very disruptive. It’s ever-changing and there is a lot of uncertainty, so it’s about being in that position to take advantage of some of these disruptive technologies and to respond to some of these changes as well.

Speaking of disruption, tell us a little bit about how digital has disrupted your respective industries?

AW: I think it's played a significant role in advance automation within our firm and the companies of our clients. It's allowed a lot of the analytical function to be a bit more efficient than they currently are. I think about 60% of what analytical functions typically do is with data extraction and data manipulation, so digital transformation in our sense allows analytics teams to quickly get the data that they want. Not only see it in meaningful ways, but then grab some very significant insight from that data. At KPMG, we take that same approach from the data that we collect from clients, and it shapes the strategies that we take in penetrating the markets and providing different service offerings to some of our current clients. It’s really allowed our processes to be a little bit more automated and allows us to have real-time data that we can use predictive analysis on.

GB: We use it excessively to gain and obtain customer feedback and understand not only what our customers are telling us, but what they are doing. We have data warehouse platforms that allow us to see real-time, and then we can transform that into MIS graphics that allow us to understand how our customers consume what’s important to them. As a result of that, we can more creatively and accurately deploy resources and assets where we see they are needed most of all. As a disruptor, it’s a competitive force. It really requires all businesses to have access and to use that real-time data that digital provides.

How does it relate to your client and customer management strategies to build better relationships and products?

GB: We all know that data consumption is the trend of our time- it's what everybody wants, it's what people demand from a telecommunications company, it’s having that footprint and access in the palm of your hand. How else do you transform the use of that data? That’s when you get into digital products and services where you enter the realm of solution making. How can we make people’s lives interesting? How can we make them easier? How can we solve problems? No one thinks of it as “using data''. People just think of it as using Facebook or Snapchat. We want people to think even further than that. To think about how we communicate, how we create content, and how we showcase that content across a wide variety of disciplines.

How does digital add value for the end-users of your service?

GB: I think that’s really where the concept of design and forward-thinking comes in, particularly in telecommunications. It's not an industry where you can remain stagnant. The telecommunications of today are not what telecommunications was even two years ago, certainly not what it was ten years ago. When I talk to my team and we’re thinking about new ideas, we always talk about needing to plan for tomorrow. You must sit back and ask yourself how you create business decisions around that data- how do I identify the trend the customers themselves may not be aware of? How do I pick up all these seemingly disparate bits of data and information and think “this is what their need is”? What do they value? You must build out your pathway for your plan on how to get there.

AW: A lot of our solutions are really built around a customer-centric perspective. So, we try to understand what the customers of our clients- or even our clients- really want to get from the data and tailor our solutions to that. In doing so, it’s really to facilitate product differentiation. We sort of know what our client’s customers behaviours are and we’ve been collecting this data throughout the course of history. It’s not only collecting the data and understanding it but then connecting this data to these external sources we call external signals. I think it’s very important that companies not only take advantage of the data they currently collect, but also what data is available from a global setting. There are a lot of data repositories that they can connect to so they can look at their customers not only from a microlevel but also take a more macro view to really understand the market they operate in; understand how their customers fit in the global trend of things. Is it with the trend or against it? What can you do to start tailoring your products to really get those customers’ experiences enhanced and start penetrating some of these new markets?

This must be where creative intelligence factors into developing strategies to enhance that experience. You mentioned “external signals” as relevant to disseminating the data that you collect to tailor your client’s experience in broader terms. Can you give an example of how you have found solutions for a client to understand its position in the global landscape?

AW: One of the more innovative solutions that we’ve built is for the Ministry of Tourism. We’ve provided them with a data and analytic solution that is a “soup-to-nuts” solution. The Ministry of Tourism uses information that is collected from visitor landing cards that most visitors would fill in at any port of entry in the Bahamas. We’ve built a solution that digitizes that information – it recognizes their handwriting and forms structured data and puts it all in a database. It’s all automated. Essentially what we have done is we’ve built a pipeline that allows the data to be accessed in real-time. We gather this information and connect that data for the Ministry to not only understand who is coming in, but why they are coming in. How are they getting into the country? How do their behaviours match the regions they are coming from? We’re looking at all elements of the visitor whether it's what they spend money on in terms of hotels and services, or what experience they are looking to get from the Bahamas, and how can the ministry of tourism as a whole augment or enhance that experience.

How is the ministry using these tools you have implemented?

AW: One of the key ways they start to use the insights we provide is focusing on their marketing budgets. What they wanted to know was who their visitors are and to really target their marketing approach. Once they have all this information, they do have quite a significant impact on the concessions the government gives to some of these different operators, hoteliers, etcetera. For example, if they know that visitors coming from private boats tend to spend more money in-country and stay longer, they then have presented a good report to the government to suggest that more investment should be made to some of these ports to get the private boaters in because that is the cash cow.

"Data analytics and data science is one of the burgeoning fields of our time. You must sit back and ask yourself how you create business decisions around that data- how do I identify the trend the customers themselves may not be aware of?" - Gravette Brown, Aliv

What do you think are the most critical components to successful digital transformation in the case of a newer company, for ensuring a holistic commitment to a digital-focused business strategy?

AW: I think it's very important for companies whether new or old to really recognize the opportunity for digital transformation in their companies. They should first see the application and the value behind digital transformation. They should also begin to start to shift the culture within their organization. They need to articulate their digital transformation strategies very clearly across the organization because everyone is part of it. Whether you are a part of the actual digital solution or you are just supporting it- you are a part of it. I think it really must be articulated from leadership – whether it’s in C- Suite or senior management- so they can really start to change their culture. It’s all meant to enhance that customer experience, so whatever strategy they implement from a digital perspective it really must take that form.

Conversation taken from the 2019 Inspired/By, a live panel discussion at The Current Art Gallery at Baha Mar, Nassau, Bahamas. Responses have been edited for brevity.

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