A Service Leader’s Guide to a Successful Digital Transformation

Service Digital Transformation

In the last 10 years, digital transformation has been a widely-discussed topic in the service industry – perhaps to the point of ad nauseum. There is no doubt that in recent years digital transformation efforts have been accelerated, and now service leaders are under incredible pressure to fast-track efforts within their own organizations. Recent research conducted by Service CouncilTM uncovered that the most desired outcomes from service leaders’ digital transformation efforts are to be more responsive and valuable to customers, as well as more efficient internally.

However, according to McKinsey, digital transformation success still remains the exception, rather than the rule. In fact, research shows that only 30% of digital transformations succeed. What’s more, less than one third of these transformations have been successful at sustaining those improvements over time.

The stakes for a successful digital transformation have never been higher. According to the 2023 Service Leader’s Agenda survey, 60% of organizations are increasing investment in technology for the service business. Additionally, the 2023 State of the Market: Digital Transformation & Service Technology survey found that the timeline for 72% of planned new technology implementations was within 12 months.

As organizations move full steam ahead with their digital transformation journeys, how can they ensure success?

This was the topic of a breakout session at the 2023 Smarter ServicesTM Executive Symposium, where Bulent Cinarkaya, General Manager of Field Service Management at ServiceNow, joined Kyle Seiter, Chief Technology Officer at Medically Home, to discuss the key ingredients for digital transformation success. The session was so popular with attendees that Service Council brought both panelists back for a webinar to share the conversation with a broader audience. Key takeaways from the conversation highlight the impact digital transformation can provide with the right insights.

Use a Market-In Approach and Clearly Define Outcomes

Kyle Seiter is no stranger to digital transformation. Throughout his career, Kyle has led seven successful digital transformation initiatives, spanning several different organizations and industries, including medical equipment manufacturing, communications, and financial services.

According to Kyle, a successful digital transformation should always start with a market-in approach: “Survey, listen, and understand before you jump to the conclusion of what needs to be done.” For Kyle’s organization, this looked like surveying internal customers and business partners, and then quantifying the results using a net promoter score (NPS).

In Kyle’s opinion, the biggest mistake that organizations can make is to look at technology first, without clearly defining what success is going to look like. “You’ve got to understand where the problem is occurring first, before you jump to the new shiny object that everybody thinks is going to solve their problem.”

Once you understand the root cause of existing challenges and can quantify it through metrics, such as NPS, decide what success will look like in measurable terms. Additionally, ensure you have alignment with your executives and your leadership team. Bulent suggests an internal contract. “Have a document that clearly explains what the vision is, what the goals are, who the owners of those goals are, and what the measurable success metrics will be to help you achieve these goals,” Bulent adds “Having this will help keep the project intact and prevent project sprawl and scope creep.”

The other crucial ingredient to clearly defining outcomes is data. It’s imperative that organizations have visibility into the data, so they can set KPIs, understand where they are today and measure continuously along the journey. At this point, says Bulent, service leaders should begin enlisting the help of their vendor to make sure they are getting as much functionality out of their technology investments as possible.

Invest in a Partner that Can Scale with You

Forty-one percent of service leaders cited the integration of technologies as the greatest inhibitor to realizing value from their new technology investments, according to the 2023 Service Leader’s Agenda survey. Kyle’s mantra when undergoing a digital transformation is to leverage the expertise and approach from a technology partner who has the breadth of offerings to meet your needs at all stages of the transformation.

In fact, ServiceNow’s ability to close technology gaps is the reason Kyle has chosen to work with them during each of the seven transformation initiatives he led. “The magic that ServiceNow brings is they’ve taken the time to integrate the various capabilities that they offer into a canonical data model across their entire platform,” he says “I have always gravitated towards ServiceNow versus other platforms because ServiceNow can offer a centralized data model that I can then use to drive improvement opportunities, operational insights that are important for our business, and other areas that you can imagine. This also reduces the amount of integration work we need to do.”

Bulent echoed these sentiments, saying that ease of integration is at the core of ServiceNow’s capabilities. “We would love for all the world’s data to be in ServiceNow, but we know that customers have other investments that we need to integrate with. Through the Service Hub, we make these integrations as easy as possible. Additionally, organizations need to integrate with their customer ecosystem, partner ecosystem, contractor ecosystem, and so on. If they use ServiceNow, we also bring additional innovation and ease of integration to these scenarios. It’s what we call the service bridge. It’s a secure, easy, and fast way of integrating ServiceNow systems.”

You Learn More from Failures Than Successes

From Kyle’s perspective, the biggest learning moment he can share with organizations embarking on a digital transformation journey is that they will learn more from their failures than their successes. However, it is important to identify bumps in the road early on. With his earlier transformations, Kyle and his team would set objectives for the year and review those annually. However, he soon realized that doing so meant they were finding instances where they could have intervened 3, 6 or even 9 months before to improve outcomes.

Instead, Kyle suggests focusing on outcomes that are achievable over a short period of time, “If you set an objective at the beginning of the year, and you don’t review it until the end of the year, you’ve got an entire year to screw it up. If you set an objective that is achievable quarter over quarter, you’ve got a quarter to screw it up and then three quarters to fix it.”

Ensuring that the transformation journey is achievable quarter over quarter means organizations can quickly react and recalibrate if any potential challenges arise. Bulent also suggests that organizations create a solid foundation first, before building. “Start small, make sure it works, and then leverage that success and learning to scale.”

Digital Transformation is Never Over

Digital transformation is a never-ending journey. The purpose of any service transformation is to improve efficiencies, whether those are internal processes or customer responsiveness, so that your organization can stay competitive. Therefore, service leaders should always be re-evaluating and reviewing business processes and technology.

ServiceNow has played an essential part in all of Kyle’s transformations because of their ability to support the continual improvement process. “ServiceNow has been a great partner for me because, as my businesses have expanded beyond FSM or CSM or ITSM, I could turn on more capabilities and start to transform our customer service management side [of the business] or our field service management capabilities.”

Currently, Medically Home is expanding field service management, as well as evaluating AI, to streamline operational processes and help the company scale to the next level. Kyle is hopeful that these new endeavors will deliver a 40% improvement in the effectiveness and efficiency of his team. As Kyle looks towards future transformations, his partnership with ServiceNow will continue to be front and center. “We’ll continue to leverage ServiceNow to build out unique and bespoke solutions that will help our company differentiate for the long-term future.”

To learn more about how ServiceNow can help organizations successfully manage their digital transformations, watch our on-demand Smarter Services™ Webinar.

Tags: Digital transformation, Service leadership, ServiceNow, Technology
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