Kelly James is vice president and general manager of Vlocity Energy & Utilities. James has spent more than 15 years building and delivering CIS, billing and customer experience solutions to utilities worldwide and has held various leadership roles at Oracle, Opower and Salesforce. In her role with Vlocity, James is responsible for industry strategy and delivering solutions that delight utility and energy customers and employees, and that positively impact both the utility top-line and bottom-line.
According to a 2018 IDG survey, just seven percent of companies reported having completed their digital transformation efforts, and only 11 percent said they had yet to begin.
That means that the vast majority of companies – around 82 percent – are somewhere along the digital transformation path.
Wherever you and your organization may be, you likely face a multitude of pressures to “go faster.” Understanding that those pressures are very real, the utilities that are leading the industry in digital transformation have prioritized organizational alignment over “speed at any cost.” They understand that a digital transformation is fundamentally a transformation of the business itself, and a few extra cycles of strategy and planning between IT and business leaders can make a big difference in terms of a lasting, positive impact on a utility’s customers and business.
A common problem is for companies to swirl in an endless loop of doing “digital things,” rather than making the necessary changes to business, operating and customer models. Many companies approach digital transformation as they might approach a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system implementation — as a zero-sum, big bang project. But a more realistic approach is to look at digital transformation as a series of steps, grounded in business and customer value, that form a prioritized roadmap of digital initiatives.
Where to start
While each energy and utility company is different, successful transformations focus on customer value. Ask questions like, “Do we know why our customers value us?” “How can we make their experience more engaging, more trusted and more delightful?” And, “How can we create more differentiated value for existing customers and acquire new ones in the process?” Begin by identifying the areas most critical to your customer relationship goal; then layer on your priorities for increased operational efficiency. Focus on making workers more engaged and productive, creating better customer experiences and opening up new revenue opportunities.
...a more realistic approach is to look at digital transformation as a series of steps, grounded in business and customer value, that form a prioritized roadmap of digital initiatives.
Building on a customer-centric intention, an important first step is to define what digital transformation looks like to the company so that every employee can understand why it is important. With that, it then becomes imperative to ensure the executive team is fully onboard. And, before significant change begins, the organization needs to decide how success will be measured. Taking a holistic, customer-centric approach and considering strategic needs across the business is ideally step one. Defining the vision, guiding principles, strategic roadmap and success metrics can then guide program funding decisions and system selections. The key is “thoughtful transformation.” This foundational work, when conducted with transparency and collaboration, aligns organizations around a common roadmap that can save countless cycles later in the journey. If you didn’t start this way or don’t feel you have your strategic roadmap fully baked, it’s worth pausing to get the organization aligned.
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