Embracing the Problems and Solutions: The New Imperative for Digital Leaders

by: The CI&T Team

Someone with their hand out carrying a lit up lightbulb
Posted on Apr 25, 2018

The pace of technological change and shifts in customer preferences can be dizzying for today’s senior-level executives—especially when it comes to keeping up with trends in digital. Meanwhile, the failure rate of digital transformations seem to hover around the 70% to 80% range. To further complicate matters, the potential for negative news to spread across social media, increased regulatory uncertainty, and the constant shifts in investor sentiment are enough to keep any executive awake at night.
 
 With all of these headwinds threatening our businesses, we want quick solutions, right? Not so fast.

 
Bridging the gap between problems and solutions with customer-centric analytics

 
Regrettably, we’ve all heard the saying, “Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions.” The thinking here is that looking for solutions is better than bellyaching about every problem under the sun. We all need to be problem solvers, right?
 
 
The challenge, however, is that this way of thinking can lead to blind spots. For example, what happens if teams don’t have solutions to the problems they’ve identified? If the message from leaders is to focus only on the solutions, a sort of organizational myopia begins to creep in. Meanwhile, as the promises of change fail to materialize, employees experience a loss of hope. Teams no longer feel motivated or empowered to bring about meaningful change. And the end result is that everyone reverts back to their comfort zones—i.e., status quo.

 
Creating a safe place where innovation can flourish

 
 
If you’re wondering where it all went wrong, you’re not alone. Over the years, we’ve seen companies make some strategic miscalculations. The problem, however, isn’t the problems. Where things go wrong is neglecting to build failure into the  innovation process itself.

 
To create a digitally innovative organization, leaders need to embrace failure by creating a safe space for teams to discuss the problems they see. This is especially true when you consider that running a digital business that can stand the test of time requires teams to test, fail, and repeat. Granted, this concept isn’t new. As far back as 1882, Thomas Edison wrote in an article, How to Succeed as an Inventor, “The reason why I get along with comparative ease now is because I know from experience the enormous number of things that won’t work.”
  
 
As you think about investing in new technology or solutions, also consider how your teams engage with their work and each other. Are they truly liberated to find solutions by working through the problems? Or is there an organizational culture that eschews any mention of problems? Remember that culture drives behavior, and behavior dictates how employees engage with systems, technology solutions, customers, and one another.
 
 
One way for leaders to help change their organization’s culture is by changing processes and the metrics for success. In particular, every company today needs to have the customer at the center of everything they do. Further, teams need to mobilize around problems and finding potential solutions by focusing on customer-centric analytics.
 
 
Rather than looking at your business or digital transformation initiative in a vacuum, analytics that focus on the customer experience—whether mobile apps, e-commerce, content, etc.—provide your teams with a basis for testing their ideas, moving forward, and ultimately realizing success.
 
 
Case study: How customer-centric analytics reshaped the retail experience

 
To illustrate, during a period of declining sales, a major shopping mall operator wanted to better understand consumer behavior and preferences in order to improve the shopping experience at its malls. The goal was to formulate an omnichannel strategy—one that bridged the physical and digital world in order to reach both millennials and the connected consumer that migrated to e-commerce shopping.
 
 
Leveraging the malls’ integrated Wi-Fi offer registration, which gathers data from around 1.5 million customers, CI&T helped develop a solution that enabled retailers to use their knowledge of consumer behavior to generate promotions customized and geolocalized in real time.

 
Built on the Google Cloud Platform with the latest analytics and Big Data solutions that deliver relevant and personalized information, the system read consumer interactions within the mall's Wi-Fi system and cross-checked this data in real-time with other data points—such as age, gender, and buying habits.
 


With these insights at their disposal, the mall’s marketing teams worked in partnership with the individual retailers to offer promotions to customers through SMS messaging. Imagine a customer walking into an appliance store and receiving a discount coupon; if they went to the movies, they might receive an offer for dinner at one of the mall's restaurants; or if they have been looking for smartphone deals lately, they might be invited to a product launch.

 
Considering the ongoing concerns about privacy, it’s easy to see how this initiative could fall flat. Instead of shelving this idea, however, we decided to conduct a pilot at four network malls during Black Friday. For one week, discount coupon campaigns were run for about 3,000 potential consumers. The success was higher than expected: click-through rates averaged 30%, and customer receptivity and feedback with the campaign were excellent.

 
Analytics and metrics for success

 
According to the group’s national marketing manager, “We have always had an idea of the consumer profile. And now—through the use of analytics—we can use this data effectively, offering relevant services to consumers, and a strategic service to retailers in our group."