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5 Brands that Centered Digital Transformation Around Customers

By: Giselle Abramovich

A keen focus on customer experience is helping enterprises compete and win in today’s highly competitive business landscape.

That was the main takeaway of this morning’s keynote session at Adobe Summit—The Digital Experience Conference.

“Powerful experiences change the way we think, interact, entertain, work, and relate to the world around us,” Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen told a record 17,000 attendees at Summit, in Las Vegas. “And the impact of these experiences spans from the largest brands and institutions to students and artists everywhere.”

Inside Adobe’s Digital Transformation

Adobe, Narayen said, has spent the past few years going through its own significant transformation–one that has spanned every part of the organization. There’s no denying that the company was a leader in creative desktop software (think: Photoshop). The issue at hand, however, was that Adobe was only able to deliver new products and updates every 18 to 24 months. While this model served it well for almost a decade, Adobe soon realized its business was at a crossroads.

“Our product cycles were too slow to keep up with the pace of innovation our engineers wanted to deliver,” Narayen explained. “We didn’t have a direct customer relationship to understand which features would add the most value. And we weren’t attracting the next generation of new users.”

Moving to a cloud-based subscription model put the customer experience front and center, he said, delivering a continuous stream of innovation to customers.

“We became a company that relies on data as much as creativity,” Narayen said. “We became a company that focuses on understanding customer intent so we can deliver a personalized experience at every touch point. And, in the end, we became a more successful company. Our success has been predicated on the core belief that digital transformation starts by reimagining the entire customer journey.”

To do that, Adobe created a data-driven operating model (DDOM) for running its digital business. Its framework includes a common taxonomy of the journey, metrics, and goals, and who in the organization owns various parts of the customer journey. The DDOM dashboard shows the overall health of the business and is mapped to the entire customer journey of discover, try, buy, use, and renew.

“We’ve built a DDOM dashboard that now is a single source of truth that has democratized [our] data and shifted the discussion … with all stakeholders across the world [focusing] on insights and actions,” Narayen said.

Best Buy’s Playbook For Success

Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly joined Narayen on stage to talk about the retailer’s digital transformation, which started in November 2012 when “everyone thought Amazon was going to kill us,” Joly joked.

The company came up with a new strategy that prioritized customers above all else. “We said, ‘We are not in the business of selling products or doing transactions with you. Our purpose is to enrich lives with the help of technology,’” Joly said.

Step one toward a more customer-centric business model was making a few changes right off the bat, such as dropping prices and making a commitment to ship fast and free. Transformation also entailed an investment in customer experience, where data played a large role in driving the company forward.

“Data is the enabler of digital transformation,” Joly said.

Building a single view of the customer was key, not to mention a “huge undertaking” Joly told attendees. But orchestrating targeted and personalized customer experiences are impossible otherwise. From there, Best Buy’s marketing strategy has evolved quite a bit: Whereas seven years ago approximately 80% of its media spend was analog, today 90% is digital.

When looking at the competitive landscape (read: Amazon), Best Buy quickly figured out that its stores could be its advantage. That’s why another key part of the BestBuy transformation was upskilling employees—“blue-shirts,” as Joly called them—to ensure customers would have the best possible in-store experiences. Another bonus: In-store employee turnover is now less than 30%, down from seven years ago.

Today, Best Buy customers can also use digital services in-store to compare product features, see which stores have the products they are looking for, and more.

“The stores have proved to be an unbelievable asset,” Joly said. “Half of our online orders are picked up in store or shipped home from a store.”

To further differentiate itself, Best Buy created a slew of new services to help customers make better, more informed buying decisions. One example is its Tech Advisors services, which sends consultants to customers’ homes to help them decide which technology is going to work best for their needs. This free service gives consumers product recommendations via a personalized plan, with no obligation to buy. Customers can get advice about Wi-Fi, smart appliances, home theater, and more.

What’s next? According to Joly, the digital transformation journey is never really over, so the retailer will continue to focus on developing and selling customer-centric solutions, and building relationships with consumers.

Intuit’s Digital Transformation Is Rooted In Data

Tech company Intuit’s digital transformation began as a move from desktop to cloud-based SaaS. According to the company’s CIO, Atticus Tysen, who was interviewed by Adobe CIO Cindy Stoddard, Intuit’s transformation was very much focused on data.

“IT played a major part in laying down the right infrastructure and data pipes,” Tysen said. The main goal was to ensure data was delivered in the right way, at the right time, so that employees would be able to deliver on the customer experience mandate.

During this process, Tysen found himself forming some unusual synergies across the organization, working with other C-suite executives such as the chief customer success officer, the CMO, and even the CFO. He learned that marketers were some of the most sophisticated users of data and also noted a growing trend in the employment of chief data officers. Intuit’s own CDO works relentlessly across the organization to help the various business lines think correctly about data.

The key, Tysen said, is cleaning the data and removing the organizational silos. At Intuit, the IT team is set up with small teams assigned to work with various functions of the organization more closely. There’s a group that works directly with marketing, a group that works with finance, etc. Gone are the days when CIOs can think strictly in terms of IT metrics, Tysen said. Each and every function within a company needs to align around a common set of business metrics, breaking down silos and “working more horizontally than ever before.”

SunTrust’s Mission To Lead With Purpose

SunTrust CMO Susan Johnson came on stage with Adobe CTO Abhay Parasnis to discuss how digital is disrupting financial institutions. Johnson, who started her career as an engineer at Apple, said her move “from numbers and science to a world of possibilities—marketing” was an exciting change. SunTrust had a ton of data, and Johnson was committed to building a marketing organization that could use this intelligence to reach people creatively.

“Step one was to invent a new marketing playbook [rooted in] purpose, tech, and courage,” Johnson said. “Purpose is what grounds us. Our transformation was grounding and removing friction from financial services.”

The technology portion, Johnson said, was about helping people manage their finances fast and plan for the future. Suntrust began with siloed point solutions but eventually evolved to a broad, bank-wide digital strategy.

“Today we are more client-centric than product-centric,” Johnson said.

Johnson said she is hypersensitive to the colliding worlds of tech and marketing. Marketing, she said, once lacked certainty. But today it’s where organizations can measure, target, and segment.

Technology also has played a critical role in Suntrust’s transformation journey: “We are committed to [helping customers] build control and confidence over [their] money,” she said.

Johnson pointed to the power of AI in helping the bank target and reach new segments of people, wherever they are, who need Suntrust’s services. Adobe, Johnson said, has been key in getting Suntrust to this point. The bank is also constantly on the lookout for startups to work with and is currently looking to build an app for wearables to help people manage their money.

“Think of what Fitbit or Apple have done with fitness, [and that’s what] we want to do with financial fitness,” she said.

Generally speaking, Johnson said, marketing has become a growth driver, but the synergy between CMOs and CIOs cannot be overstated. There’s an immense amount of data, and IT teams can help marketers determine what’s actionable.

“The relationship will [continue to] be really important,” she said.

Chegg’s Data Science Team Works To Improve CX—Constantly

Like the other speakers on stage, Chegg CEO Dan Rosensweig emphasized the importance of data to his organization’s transformation journey.

Chegg is a subscription-based service committed to helping students learn on-demand in a personalized way. The company’s focus on data and analytics has helped it reach students on the right channels, with the right message, at the right time. It has 30 data scientists working across various business groups helping to collect, analyze, and disseminate data across the company.

As a result, it has been able to lower its cost of acquisition from about 63% to approximately 80% renewal rates—all because of data and analytics.

“Young people demand good experiences, and they don’t have tolerance for bad experiences,” Rosensweig said. “We have an opportunity to know what matters [to them] because of data and analytics. Our data scientists are working to understand what we are doing wrong and how we can fix it.”

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