New Research: The Culture of Digital Transformation Today, a Conversation with Pega’s Don Schuerman – Futurum Tech Webcast Interview Series

In this episode of the Futurum Tech Webcast, Interview Series, which we streamed on LinkedIn Live, I’m joined by Don Schuerman, the CTO of Pega for a conversation about the culture of digital transformation based on a recently published Futurum Research report commissioned by Pega.

The Futurum report: Four Insights on the Culture of Digital Transformation Today, was the result of a survey of over 500 business leaders and general staff across North America, EMEA and APAC, with an industry split across automotive, communications, financial services, healthcare, media, and the public sector.

The goal of this research was to do something different from all the other research on digital transformation out there. So much of DX conversation is around processes and technology, but we wanted to look at the people part of that equation.

Instead of focusing exclusively on gleaning insights from the C-Suite and middle managers, we wanted to explore how what workers throughout the organization as a whole thought about their company’s digital transformation efforts, how different roles contribute to driving digital transformation initiatives.

With that, Don and I took a look at some of the key findings in the research. Our conversation today covered:

Don’s thoughts on the single most interesting takeaway from The Culture of Digital Transformation Today study:

  • 94% of all employees want to be more involved in DX.
  • Almost half (44%) of the general staff simply don’t know how to help.
  • Only 10% of general staff strongly agree they know how to contribute to their company’s digital transformation efforts. Interestingly.
  • Even 14% of CEOs report they don’t know how to get involved.
  • The lesson: This not only disenfranchises some employees, it can also slow the pace of DX success. Businesses must find ways to leverage the staff’s enthusiasm for DX and get them more involved their staff as well as provide clear direction how they can do so.

What leaders told us their main goals are when it comes to digital transformation initiatives, including:

  • 68% of business decision makers believe improving customer experience is the most important driver of DX.
  • What are the key ways we can use technology to do that?
  • Automate existing processes.
  • Improving or updating processes.
  • Move automation from just back of the house to front of the house and throughout the organization as a whole.
  • Understand that automation isn’t about just RPA – when you add AI into the mix and integrate intelligent automation in the process, it’s a game-changer.

Our survey respondents also told us there are some significant barriers to their success in DX efforts. Don and I explored those barriers, which include:

  • Lack of adequate skills (42%)
  • Partnerships (36%)
  • Budget (36%)

There also seems to be a chasm between perception and reality when it comes to how far along organizations are in their DX efforts.

  • 41% of C-suite execs feel their organization is at least 75% “done” as it relates to their DX efforts.
  • Only 26% of their senior staff would agree.

Why the disparity? What needs to happen to overcome those barriers? Well, as you might imagine, Don and I have thoughts — lots of thoughts. It’s about leadership, culture, and communication. From our survey, here’s a look at some of the disparities between what leaders think and what employees think:

  • Only 18% of respondents believe the CEO leads DX compared to 47% who identify the CTO or CIO.
  • When employees cite the CEO as the DX leader, employees report a more positive perception of DX, which can be helpful in building a stronger DX culture:
  • For example, 67% of respondents from organizations with CEO-led DX expect to be ‘very effective’ in technology leadership compared to only 51% in CIO-lead organizations and 34% when the CTO leads.
  • The lesson: DX starts at the top – the CEO must be involved, even if in perception only, to demonstrate the importance of the initiative to staff.

And you’ll need to watch or listen to our conversation to find out what Don and I think about how to overcome these barriers.

Lastly, we tackled what we called the “real meat” of this study, and the fact that it will hopefully serve as a wake-up call to senior leaders about how to successfully think about the company’s digital transformation journey. The key really is about culture and working to create a holistic culture of digital transformation where everyone is involved, and everyone plays a role. In addition, there are a few other things that business leaders can do to make this a reality — and you’ll want to not miss that part of our conversation. Don also shared some insights on how Pega is working with customers to help overcome the challenges they face, and that’s all about collaboration, transparency, and customer experience.

Grab the video of our conversation here:

or get the audio here by way of your favorite podcast channel:

and you’ll definitely want to download the report: Four Insights on the Culture of Digital Transformation Today

Disclaimer: The Futurum Tech Podcast is for information and entertainment purposes only. Over the course of this podcast, we may talk about companies that are publicly traded and we may even reference that fact and their equity share price, but please do not take anything that we say as a recommendation about what you should do with your investment dollars. We are not investment advisors and we do not ask that you treat us as such.

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Shelly Kramer: Hello, and welcome to this episode of the Futurum Tech Webcast, which we’re also bringing to you live on LinkedIn. Today I’m really excited about our conversation. We’re going to talk about the culture of digital transformation today, and I’m having a conversation with my friend, Don Schuerman from Pega. Don, welcome, it’s great to have you.

Don Schuerman: Shelly, it’s always great to chat with you guys.

Shelly Kramer: Always. So in this episode, we’re going to have a conversation about the culture of digital transformation based on a research report that we just partnered on and which is just now live, and we’re really excited about this research. So we want to share some of the key findings that we had as a result of the report. So the report is called the Four Insights on the Culture of Digital Transformation Today, and it was the result of a series of a survey of 500 business leaders and general staff across North America, EMEA and APAC, with an industry split across automotive, communications, financial services, healthcare, media and the public sector.

I know those are details, but those are important things to know when you’re looking at, “Who did we talk to? Where were they? What industries were they in?” This is one of my favorite research projects to work on, and I use this as an example all the time, Don, you don’t know that, but what I love about this is that so many times when we do surveys and we do research studies, we talk to senior leaders and we talk to executives, we talk to C-suite, we talk to middle managers, but far too often, we don’t talk with frontline workers, we don’t talk with people in the middle, we don’t talk with the people who are actually getting the work done, and that was something that your team at Pega wanted to do. You wanted to really get a pulse throughout the organization of how people thought about digital transformation, how people felt, whether they were involved or not in the company’s digital transformation efforts. We talked with executives about how they felt they were doing as it related to digital transformation, and we talked with their employees and asked their feelings.

So it was just a really interesting finger on the pulse. And I really, really liked that Don, and I think we got some great information. So with that, we’re going to dive into some of the key findings of that research study. And Don, tell me, so for me, I told you what my favorite thing about the whole objective here was, but I know that we had some really interesting takeaways. What was your single most interesting takeaway from this research study?

Don Schuerman: Shelly, we hear so often that digital transformation initiatives in order to work, they have to be simultaneously top-down and bottom-up, and that’s why we wanted to talk to both ends of the spectrum. And I think this research first and foremost confirms that. We found that 94% of employees want to be more involved with digital transformation initiatives. They’re excited, they see that this is absolutely essential to the future of their organizations and having better employee experiences, delivering better customer experiences, they want to be on the front end of that.

I think the sobering piece of information that comes out of here is almost half about 44% of general staff. They don’t know how to help. They’re not sure on what their role should be. We found that only about 10% strongly felt that they actually knew what role they played in a digital transformation effort. And this isn’t just a general staff problem, 40% of CEOs don’t necessarily know how to get involved with digital transformation efforts. So I think there’s a real opportunity for whether it’s CIOs or chief digital officers, or other folks leading digital transformation to make sure that they’re pulling in involvement both from the top, from the C-suite, but also throughout the organization.

Shelly Kramer: Absolutely. One of the things that we talk about a lot here at Futurum, and you and I have talked about quite a bit is that when you talk about digital transformation, it’s about processes, it’s about technology, but it’s also about people. And we so often leave people out of the equation or leave them at the very end of the list. And the thing about it is we have a lot of clients in the automation space and also clients working on pushing digital transformation initiatives forward. And the biggest challenge is adoption. So, “Oh, we’re going to fine tune our processes. Make everything about our processes more efficient and increase productivity, and it’s going to be so amazing and we’re going to deliver better customer service, it’s going to be so awesome.”

So we make a technology purchase and we may or may not put the right training around that technology purchase. And sometimes we make a technology purchase without even getting insight from the people who’ll be using the technology, and then we wonder, six months, 12 months, 18 months, we made this huge investment in technology, but we’re struggling with adoption. And that really speaks to the heart of this whole issue, I think, is that when you leave people out of the equation, then your biggest challenge is adoption, and it’s like pushing a rock up hill and that’s not fun, and it’s certainly not efficient, and productive or anything else.

So I really feel like that is so much of what this research study rather brings to bear is that the people part of this equation, the culture part of this equation, that we’re all in this together, we all play a role. I think that’s really where organizations are missing the boat and where they can… Really, it’s not that hard to course correct this, I don’t think, you have to be aware of it and you have to want to.

Don Schuerman: Well, and we often talk about that you need digital technology. So you need AI, you need low-code, you need automation platform, so you need the digital tech, but if you don’t have the digital skills, if you don’t have people enabled to do things like design thinking and empathetic view of the customer journey, and leveraging the new kinds of collaboration technology that we’re using, if you don’t have the digital skills that go along with it, none of that tech is going to deliver the value that you expect. So like I said, I think there’s a huge opportunity for organizations to really think through that digital skilling side, as well as the technology side.

Shelly Kramer: Well, and I think too, the other thing that’s really exciting, and also speaks to some of our findings here, people want to be involved and largely they’re not. So when you can tap this frontline workforce and you can not only say, we want your input, we want your involvement, but by the way, what else we’re going to do, we’re going to do some rescaling here, and we’re going to teach you how to do this really cool low-code/no-code stuff, whatever, build robots, fine tune these processes, all these things. And it’s going to change everything about what it is your job is, and by the way, it’s going to be super cool. And then when they do that, it is super cool.

And then when you talk to these people afterwards, it’s like, oh my gosh, I had this ordinary average job and I did a certain set of tasks all day every day and it was boring, and now I’ve learned this whole new skillset and what’s even better is that I’m teaching it to other people throughout the organization. And so, all of a sudden you’re creating this excitement, you’re creating a knowledge base, you’re creating new opportunities to make jobs better, more interesting, more exciting. And so to me, I think it’s a huge win to approach it in that way. And again, these are not rocket science, these aren’t hard problems to solve, you just have to step back from what it is you’re doing and think about, “How are we creating this culture of digital transformation within our organization?”

Don Schuerman: And I think people want to be involved. The other thing that I think they realize, one of the things we found in the survey was that 68% of business decision makers, they feel digital transformation is all about improving the customer experience. And I think all employees in organizations want to make that customer experience better, they want to be a part of that, they want to have a hand in delivering that, and I think this is that opportunity to bring them into that story, to bring them into that fold.

Shelly Kramer: Absolutely, I agree. So let’s talk a little bit about, we talk with a lot of business leaders and we talk with them about main goals in digital transformation initiatives. You mentioned customer experience actually is the most important driver of customer experience or digital transformation. Our data showed 68% of business decision makers believed that improving customer experience was the holy grail of that. So tell us a little bit about what are the key ways, the key pieces of technology that we can use to affect this?

Don Schuerman: I think there are a couple of things that are really important. One big thing is thinking about the processes that sit behind customer experiences. At the other end of a lot of customer experiences is a process. And if you’re not going to automate as much as you can, so you can operate efficiently, but even more importantly, apply approaches like design thinking to reimagine those processes from a customer perspective. And this is where digital skills meet digital tech. If I combine design thinking with low-code, I can pretty quickly design a whole new view of that process that isn’t built around my business silos, but is actually built around the experience I want to deliver to the customer and the outcome that I want to deliver. So really thinking about, “How do I fulfill those customer journeys or those micro journeys, the small little parts of the customer journey?” Is a big piece.

I think the other technology that has a huge role to play here is AI. And being able to leverage AI to both improve the processes through better automation, through chat bots and speech to text, et cetera, but also leveraging AI to help have a really personal and empathetic conversation with the customer, to crunch all that data that we’re now building about the context of where the customer is, and actually to put in front of the customer in real-time, what’s the most relevant conversation for them? What’s the thing that they need at this moment, so that they don’t have to go find it, the business is putting it right there so it’s easy, and the business is balancing that relevancy need for the customer with its own objectives around growing and deepening the relationship.

Shelly Kramer: Absolutely. I think about, all of us have had hundreds of interactions with customer service teams and I’m a process person, and I know you’re a process person, and I’m also always thinking about, it’s just about common sense. Everything is just about common sense, and when I’m on a call and when you’re passed from one person to another, and you’re telling your story time, after time, after time again, and the clock is ticking and you’re just getting more irritated as we go, and the reality of it is the technology exists to make this a really good experience for customers.

And what I find myself thinking when I’m of the customer end of one of those experiences, I think if only the CEO would sit through this flippant experience, because you know that sometimes when people are coming up with processes, there’s a part of it you have to really walk through these, your design thinking, you have to really understand every step of that customer journey and how to make it amazing. And the thing of it is when you have a fantastic customer experience, every time you just walk away from it going, “Oh my gosh, wouldn’t it be great if everything was like that?” And that’s what you want people to think about your organization.

Don Schuerman: And the other thing that’s important about these experiences, they don’t have to be this magical thing, they just have to be easy. Most of the time, you just want something from the company that you’re working with and how can you as a company make it easier for the customer to get there? How can you make just simple things simple? And that mindset, that skill of not just how do I use the technology, the automation, the case management, the-low code, but how do I think and imagine this process from the customer’s perspective so that I’m building them, not into our organizational silos and our organizational quirks, but I’m actually building it around the outcome that they want to achieve? That’s why we think it’s so important to learn how to take those customer experiences and break them down into micro journeys, break them down into these chunks of experience that’s tied to a real outcome and figure out, “How do I get the customer to that outcome as easily and as efficiently as possible?”

Shelly Kramer: Well, that’s really where AI is so beautiful, because when you can build intelligent automation into the processes and when I call or connect online through chat or whatever, when your system identifies me and knows what my recent interactions were and can get straight to, “So you must need help with your mortgage application or whatever,” it’s just like, “Oh my gosh, this is so cool.” And it really is that simple. So I think that’s exciting and I think that it’s a no-brainer in terms of what you need to make sure you’re budgeting for when it comes to technology solutions and really empowering your own team, as well as providing great customer service.

So it sounds so easy and yet it’s not. So we know the barriers exist, and in this particular research survey, our respondents told us there were some significant barriers to their success when it comes to digital transformation. So let’s talk about that a little bit. What was the number one thing?

Don Schuerman: Lack of adequate skills. 42% said that there were a lack of adequate skills inside the organization. And again, I think those skills are both from the technology side. Yes, you need to learn data science, yes, you need to have automation and low-code, yes, you need to know about cloud and cloud architectures, but it’s absolutely important to understand that one of the key skills in digital is the ability to map technology to the customer experience, to the customer problem.

So harnessing those people who can sit with a foot planted in the technology side, in the foot planted in the business and the customer side, that’s a big skill that organizations need to grow. And I think what’s interesting is 36%, the next one down, was partnerships, partnerships both externally, building the ecosystem of these journeys, but also the partnerships internally. So much of this is about breaking down the silos that have traditionally existed between a website and a contact center, or between an IT department and a business. Because from the customer perspective, you’ve got to operate as one, you can’t operate as distinct silos or you’re never going to deliver these digital experiences that organization’s want.

Shelly Kramer: Absolutely. And that last item, nobody’s going to be surprised to know that that last barrier is budget and 36% of people indicated that budget was a problem. I do feel like one of the nice things, and you’ll be able to soon tell that I’m an optimist, to me, one of the benefits of navigating a global pandemic is that some things that might have been nice to have a year ago have quickly become, we can’t live without. And whether that’s being able to power your call centers with work from home teams, or being able to process massive numbers of loan applications, or whatever, health insurance claims, all those sorts of things, I think we’ve really seen movement with regard to whether there was a budget issue or not, we’ve seen an allocation of budget dollars to take care of some of these things, because we really didn’t have a choice.

So I think that’s a good thing there, but I know that budget will continue to be an issue. And to me, it’s just one of those things that you’ve got to find room for in your budget. One of the things that I was going to talk about a little bit later was back of the house, in front of the house and all over the house. I think that a lot of times when people are thinking about automation solutions, they’re thinking about mostly back of the house things, invoicing and that sort of thing. But the reality of it is that that’s just a small part of what these technology solutions can deliver. And so, it’s not just limited to back of the house, it truly is back of the house, front of the house and all throughout the house, and I think we’re going to see more of that, don’t you agree?

Don Schuerman: Absolutely. And I think one of the things that I would say is it’s great. Let’s make sure that your invoicing is accurate and efficient, you might save some money, but you’re not going to grow your customer base by improving your invoicing process, right?

Shelly Kramer: Right.

Don Schuerman: If you can improve the way that you onboard a new customer, if you can improve a service experience, if you can be more tailored in how you retain the existing customers that you have, not only is that going to make your business more efficient, but that’s actually going to drive happier customers, that’s going to drive new revenue opportunities, that’s going to drive growth. Digital gives you this unique window, this unique opportunity when I think the right thing for the business in terms of efficiency is also the right thing for the customer in terms of ease of experience. And if you find those wins where you win on both the customer side and the efficiency side, the impact for the business is that much greater.

Shelly Kramer: It’s huge. So as is often the case, there’s a bit of a chasm between perception and reality when it comes to how far along organizations are in the digital transformation efforts. And by the way, we find these chasms in every situation. We just finished up a research study for another customer and it was related to how customers feel about the service we provide and senior executive surveyed said, “We are just nailing it. Our customers think that we are just doing such an amazing job and we are just absolutely nailing it.” I think it was like 75% of senior executives who were just patting themselves on the back as far as the kind of job they were doing in serving their customers, and their customers responded, it was probably more on the 24% said they’re really actually doing what I want them to be doing.

So there is a difference between perception and reality. And so, let’s talk a little bit about what we found in our survey in terms of what C-suite executives think, as opposed to what other staffers think about digital transfer.

Don Schuerman: So we found that 41% of C-suite exact to the organization has at least 75% done when it relates to digital transformation.

Shelly Kramer: I’m sorry. It’s all I could do not to just break out laughing.

Don Schuerman: What I think is funny of that is I think first and foremost, just the mere fact that you think there is a done-

Shelly Kramer: An end.

Don Schuerman: In some case you missed the whole point of digital transformation. Everybody likes to talk about, once we get through COVID, we’re going to enter “the new normal.” And I keep trying to reframe it to people as what we’re entering is the new crazy. What we’re entering is a period of consistent and ongoing change. This is not one crisis that we’re going to get through, this is going to be the cycle. And whether it’s COVID, whether it’s competitive disruption, whether it’s new technology, this is going to be a continuum for us. And I think what organizations need to realize is that digital transformation isn’t about reaching an end state, it’s about building a culture and a technology that is constantly changing, and constantly innovating, and constantly growing as the technology, and the business, and the customer needs change.

So I think there’s definitely a perception there, especially when only 26% of the staff, of the C-suite agree that they’re that far. So I think there is this disconnect, I think there is this C-suite optimism that you get a little bit in your… You mentioned that in the customer survey as well. But I also think this reinforces the importance that this digital transformation work needs to happen simultaneously from the top, as well as through all of the cultural layers of the organization.

Shelly Kramer: I have been telling people who work for me, really for the last decade, when I interview somebody for a job, one of the things I say is that, “If you don’t like change, you will hate working for us, and you will specifically hate working with me. If you don’t thrive in a state of chaos, this is not the place for you,” because my world, for the last decade, has really been immersed in digital transformation before we claimed that term.

So I have always functioned as a change agent and is somebody who’s constantly preaching the fact that this is a journey and it never ends. It just going to require a change in mindset. And I have always felt grateful and I have a feeling you’re a little bit this way as well, I’m just wired for change, I love change, bring it, hit me with it, I’ll figure it out.

Don Schuerman: We talked about skills. I had a conversation recently with a researcher from MIT, and one of the things that she was talking about was this idea of role fluidity and being comfortable with your role moving and shifting over time based on… That’s a digital skill that we actually need to build up inside the organization. So being comfort with change is one of those skills that we need to bring people forward with.

Shelly Kramer: Well, and I think that really making that a part of your conversation when you talk about skill sets, when you talk about hiring, when you talk about anything within the organization. Before we even have a relationship with someone that I’m considering hiring, I set the stage. But the other thing that I think is really important, I’ve owned a business for 25 years, so I’ve been doing this for a really long time, but what I’ve learned is that a lot of times when people think they’re good at certain things and in a lot of they’re not, but what they really are good at is something completely different than what you hired them to do.

So it’s about messaging, it’s about creating a culture of continuous innovation, and continuous learning, and continuous change. Maybe this is because I have teenagers too, but I think a lot of that is all around messaging. What kind of conversations you as a business leader have with the rest of the organization? “Here’s what’s going on, here’s where we’re excited about, here’s what we ask of you, here’s how we want you…” You know what I’m saying? This is a communication strategy.

Don Schuerman: Completely. And if you move to the next part of our survey data, one of the things that we found was that when organizations found that the digital transformation efforts were CEO-led, they found the cultural change, the impact to be very effective, compared to only 51% where these things were CIO-led. And I think the importance of this consistent cultural message, this consistent cultural drumbeat driving through the organization, I think that’s what it really reinforces. That for these DX initiatives to be truly effective, you need that CEO topline leadership involvement, demonstrating and really living the new cultural values back out to the rest of the staff.

Shelly Kramer: Absolutely. And it’s interesting too, we’ve seen a shift there. It was initially that digital transformation efforts seem to be led by IT because it’s perceived as such a technology, heavy undertaking. But the reality of it is it’s that culture, it’s the people, it’s everything. So it really is so important to have it be all across the spectrum there.

I wanted to talk a little bit about, and we’ve touched on this a little bit, how I think this can serve as a wakeup call to senior leaders to think about this digital transformation journey and push your sleeves up and work with your team to figure out how to create messaging around a holistic culture of not only transformation, but of, like I said, continuous learning, and knowledge transfer, and really involving staff at all levels. I think that that is really pretty important. Talk to me a little bit about what you think. I think we identified some key things in our study that business leaders can do to help make this a reality. Tell us about those three things.

Don Schuerman: First, they have to help everybody understand this new tech. One of the big things is there is a lot of new tech, there’s cloud, there’s AI, there’s automation, there’s RPA. We are deep in acronym soup with this stuff, and I think that there is a real need to train people on the tech, not just the syntactical use of the tech, but the business value of the tech, the why. Why are we moving to the cloud? What are we trying to achieve with that? Yes, we want to adopt Kubernetes, and we want Helen to be our container management system and that’s going to be great. So we can spin up a microservices, architecture and wonderful. We can get training people to do that, but why are we doing it?

What’s the goal with that? Are we driving savings into our IT host? Are we trying to bake agility? Are we trying to have an open API ecosystem that allows us to better partner? Those are all great things and we have to understand the tech.

The second thing is bringing open-mindedness. There are new tools, there are new ways of working, there are new ways of interacting and senior leadership needs to demonstrate that openness. And I think the third thing is it’s to agree leadership one-on-one, but voicing positivity about the DX efforts, celebrating successes. Digital transformation is all about trying new things and learning, and some of them will work and some of them won’t. But when they work, let’s celebrate that from the rooftops, and when they don’t work, let’s celebrate what we’ve learned so that we encourage the team to go back and try it again. So that importance of voice and positivity is huge.

Shelly Kramer: And I think that sometimes we tech nerds take a lot of things for granted and we shouldn’t. And my point is that this pandemic and when we had to shift to working from home and business leaders and IT teams had to move mountains to make some of this happen and employees had to move mountains to make it happen too. But you want to know why we’re all in on cloud? That’s what’s enabling us to do our jobs from home, that’s cloud. And you know why we’re all in on RPA? This is what’s making that happen. And you know why we’re really excited about what’s coming down the pike next? This is how we’re going to be able to do this, and this is how you’re going to be able to do this, and it’s going to be so much better and so much easier, and our customers are going to love it.

To me, this, it’s a communication exercise and we can’t as leaders take these things for granted and think that our teams really understand those nuances. They can understand them if we make time to talk with them about it. So in the last part of our conversation, I want to talk a little bit about your experiences at Pega and how… We’ve talked about a bunch of DX challenges and all that sort of thing, but I know you guys are really doing some innovative things, just share with us a little bit about how you’re helping some of your customers overcome the challenges we’ve talked about here.

Don Schuerman: I think there are a couple of big things that I hope organizations do. One is double down on collaboration. So that might be virtual collaboration tools. I think we’re all becoming pretty adept at Teams and Zoom, and whatever it might be that we’re using to communicate. But I think there are also other forms of collaboration using tools like Mural to facilitate design thinking, building up low-code app factories that help organizations bring IT and business people together to prototype and work on a problem.

So anything that facilitates what Gartner’s been calling fusion teams, cross-functional teams that come together, I think that’s a huge goal for the organizations. The other thing is around creating transparency. Creating transparency between systems and really focusing on what this technology is letting us do. This technology, how am I as a customer service agent? How is this new digital tool that you give me going to help me do my job better, help me serve my customer better? How can I provide increasing transparency into that?

And then finally, I think really remembering that at the end of the day, this is all about the employee and the customer experience. If digital transformation is just about modernizing our technology so we can save our IT costs, that’s not transformation, that’s-

Shelly Kramer: Efficiency one-on-one.

Don Schuerman: … business as usual, IT. What makes it digital transformation to me is the thinking and the innovation around how we use a new set of digital capabilities to dramatically change our customers and our employees experiences. And that means not only understanding that technology, but being able to really understand, to be empathetic about the customer experience and how then you might apply AI to deliver that next best action. How you might use a RPA to make it so that a customer service agent doesn’t have to deal with 17 different systems in order to answer a phone call. Those are the places where you’re going to improve your employee experience, you’re going to improve your customer experience, and you’re going to drive efficiency with the business, and then you’re ultimately going to build that platform for agile transformation to push that digital transformation forward. Because like I said, this is a period of continuous change, and I think we all need to be comfortable and welcoming of that, because I think that’s where the next leaders are going to come from, those that can take advantage and really thrive in that environment.

Shelly Kramer: I think about my kids and I know you have children as well, so I have 14-year-old twins, and I just think about how agile they are and how adept they are at moving from this platform to this platform, to this platform. And there’s never any, “Ooh, this is…” They just dive in and they figure it out, but that’s our customer. Some of this generation are already our customers, they’re in college and that sort of thing. My kids are coming right along. And so I really think that they are a generation that has come of age and is coming of age at a time where continuous change is just the norm. And so I think really understanding that, as you said, we’re not going to get through this pandemic and everything’s going to go back to normal.

I think what this has shown all of us is that welcome to reality. I guess this is what it’s going to be like from here on out. And so, just buckle up, but also take a deep breath, relax, because we can do this. And it really is about communication, and partnerships, and collaboration, and transparency. Great ending points there, I thought that was fantastic.

Well, Don, it’s been a pleasure hanging out with you. I want to mentioned again, our report, the Four Insights on the Culture of Digital Transformation Today, I’ll link that here in the show notes, and I encourage you to download it and take a read because I think you’ll really like it. And Don, it’s been a pleasure always hanging out with you.

Don Schuerman: Thank you. It’s always been a pleasure as well. So Shelly, talk to you soon.

Shelly Kramer: Absolutely, we’ll do it again soon.


Author Information

Shelly Kramer is a Principal Analyst and Founding Partner at Futurum Research. A serial entrepreneur with a technology centric focus, she has worked alongside some of the world’s largest brands to embrace disruption and spur innovation, understand and address the realities of the connected customer, and help navigate the process of digital transformation. She brings 20 years' experience as a brand strategist to her work at Futurum, and has deep experience helping global companies with marketing challenges, GTM strategies, messaging development, and driving strategy and digital transformation for B2B brands across multiple verticals. Shelly's coverage areas include Collaboration/CX/SaaS, platforms, ESG, and Cybersecurity, as well as topics and trends related to the Future of Work, the transformation of the workplace and how people and technology are driving that transformation. A transplanted New Yorker, she has learned to love life in the Midwest, and has firsthand experience that some of the most innovative minds and most successful companies in the world also happen to live in “flyover country.”


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