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New Research Finds Customer Experience at the Heart of Digital Transformation

Feature Article | August 16, 2017 by Tim Clark

From sea to shining sea, a very stark message is resonating when it comes to competing in today’s digital economy: The customer experience is king.

It doesn’t matter what size company, industry or product. Creating, enabling and nurturing a stellar customer experience is what separates the winners from the losers.

From beer getting smarter at the shelf for retailers, to creating user-friendly e-commerce platforms for the world’s biggest b2b players, the customer experience doesn’t discriminate — and your business will become obsolete if it’s not laser-focused on quickly delivering exciting new products and services that your customers crave.

With so many new buzzwords like blockchain, machine learning and artificial intelligence vying for people’s attention, few can explain what all of it means, or the impact it will have on the customer experience.

From leading enterprise software provider SAP’s perspective, it’s all about intelligently connecting things, people and businesses — with speed as the key to digital business success.

“If we do it right, you can know more, do more and care more for your customers,” said SAP CEO Bill McDermott during his keynote presentation during SAPPHIRE NOW, SAP’s premier customer event.

84% of companies globally agree, and believe digital transformation is important or critically important to their survival in next five years, according to findings from SAP’s recent Digital Transformation Executive Study. Oddly enough, the study also found that only 3% have implemented an enterprise-wide digital transformation.

Other key findings tied to customer experience include:

  • While all companies are citing technology as the key global trend affecting their business in the coming years, the Top 100 companies are significantly more focused on this than their peers.
  • A striking difference between the Top 100 and everybody else is that they are 58% more likely to cite customer empowerment as a key global trend while the laggards tend to focus more on global competition and the increasing pace of change. (39% vs. 23%).
  • 92% of leaders report that they have mature digital transformation strategies and processes in place to improve the customer experience vs. just 22% for all others.
  • 70% of leaders have seen significant or transformational value from digital transformation in customer satisfaction and engagement.

A recent Forbes article I wrote, “Surviving the Sci-Fi Future Of Customer Engagement,” appears to back many of these findings, while offering additional insight into how we’ve reached a digital transformation inflection point.

In the article, Jamie Anderson, CMO for SAP Hybris, said it’s critically important to stay ahead of digital disruptions and “never be caught flat footed.” To stay ahead of the competition, Anderson said it helps to understand the historical context of three critical phases that are driving the digital economy. Here’s a quick history lesson, per my Forbes article:

During the industrial revolution it was all about factories making affordable products via mass production. The industrial economy paved the way for the consumer economy, where there were enough products but desire was lacking – which gave birth to the golden age of advertising via the Mad Men era, creating that desire. In this millennia, we have the products and oftentimes desire, but the differentiator is the engagement we have with customers.

“It’s all about the customer experience because that is the one thing that separates you from the competition,” said Anderson.


For more insight on digital leaders, check out the SAP Center for Business Insight report, conducted in collaboration with Oxford Economics, “SAP Digital Transformation Executive Study: 4 Ways Leaders Set Themselves Apart.”

Follow me @TClark01.

This story previously appeared on SAPVoice on Forbes.

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