It’s a hard fact that digital sales are bringing in ever more revenue for most companies — either directly or as an enabler. This makes the role of IT increasingly crucial for business success. But what is the role of IT as a sales enabler in future companies? Can new ways of working make IT an active driver for digital sales instead of being just a back-office function?
To understand what kinds of challenges different types of companies are facing currently and what solutions they’ve found, we decided to have a panel discussion on the topic of IT being an enabler for digital sales.
We invited three experts from different types of companies and industries to get diverse viewpoints: Jan-Erik Fredriksson (VP, Digital Customer Offering & Experience) from Fortum, Katrin Lindahl Wallin (CIO) from Nordic Finance, and Antti Kosonen (Product Lead) from Wolt. For Fortum, a big player in the Nordic energy industry, digital solutions and digital sales are essential. Nordic Finance comes from a very traditional leasing world, but acts as a pioneer of driving digital sales. Wolt in turn is a digitally native company that is in the mids of rapid scaling.
Read further to discover the key points from the panel discussion.
IT is an essential enabler for business success
It’s clear that today IT needs to work closely together with business. IT is an essential enabler for business success. Smoothness on the customer-front and in services comes down to fast and flexible integrations on the back-end, regardless of what type of a company is in question.
“Rapid and smooth customer experience comes down to good integrations.” – Jan-Erik Fredriksson, Fortum
When IT has a good hold over integrations and is in control of customer data, IT can be the enabler of increasing recurring sales. This means that sales representatives can concentrate on taking care of the human side of creating a connection with customers.
In a company such as Wolt where all sales are digital, expanding strongly depends on having brilliant tools for IT and customer service. Internal tools have to be top-notch — for Wolt, this accounts to the smooth experience on the customer front as well.
“When internal people are happier working with good tools, that also reflects to the customer side.” – Antti Kosonen, Wolt
Cross-functional teams and common goals will make a difference
Marketing and IT have always been too far away from each other. Marketing people tend to think that they can do everything by themselves and progress with projects the way they see fit. Then IT feels like they are the ones who need to fix the tracks afterwards. This is something that’s common in most companies.
IT should be closer to the core of the business and understand the business-side. Understanding the business vision allows IT to choose and combine technology solutions more efficiently to create impact. On the other hand, marketing also needs to understand the business-flows within the IT systems.
“Miracles happen when you bring people from different backgrounds together and start working towards a common goal.” –Jan-Erik Fredriksson, Fortum
There’s no need to have deep knowledge of IT as such, but a common understanding of the key goal and working towards it together is really important. Even if it’s not possible to have a perfect understanding or perfect harmony between these two teams, it’s crucial to find the right balance to have a good enough harmony to build a smooth customer journey.
In Jan-Erik Fredriksson’s previous organisation, If, an insurance company, they had formed a fruitful cross-functional project team based on a casual conversation where someone brought up an issue their car insurance customers were facing. The customer journey after a car accident took very long timewise. First, the car had to be inspected before taking several steps to get the insurance backing. With a cross-functional team including an analyst, a designer, and a technical expert, they came up with a solution built on a photo-based pre-inspection. In some cases, it could save hours of driving and hours of customers’ valuable time.
Leaders also need to be humble in order to make cross-functional teams work — you will not be the one to dictate what everyone should do and with which tools. On the other hand, reflecting on the current situation, even if you might already have small cross-functional teams, it can be challenging to keep the small teams’ solutions and goals aligned without those small face-to-face discussions that happen in a normal office environment. This is something that Wolt aims to improve with.
Key focus and improvement areas for creating impact
In companies where the digital side isn’t “built-in” or in a core role, it’s important to have a shared vision of what is the role of digital — where do you put your bets. For example, omnichannel is something that all companies are talking about, but it’s essential to have a clear understanding of what that means to your business. All in all, it’s usually a good idea to start simple and small and grow from there.
Think of the customer point-of-view
Great customer service is one of the key things that really make a difference. Combining analytics with sales and marketing allows companies to get the best out of data, and to develop the offering to become more relevant to customers, and therefore is an essential focal point.
Being in control of your customer data is essential. Data enables prioritising the right things and creating the right kind of customer experience. Being mindful of GDPR is also important.
“IT should make an effort to understand the pain points of customers.” –Katrin Lindahl Wallin, Nordic Finance
Automating as much as possible is a good way to gain efficiency, but automating everything at once is not possible. Focusing on the real pain points of customers and automating step by step based on what is most valuable is the correct way to approach automation.
Good internal tools equal good customer experience
Ensuring internal tools are efficient and effortless to use can also make a massive difference in the business impact. About a year ago Wolt was experiencing issues in expanding to new cities. Setting up a new city for the business included daunting tasks that took time and were not anyone’s core responsibility. Wolt realised they cannot continue like this, so they improved the internal tools and processes. Today the technical setup for setting up a new city takes only about 15 minutes, and Wolt currently scales to two new cities per week.
“It’s not only the consumer-facing things that bring efficiency and impact.” –Antti Kosonen, Wolt
In some cases using the same tools internally as what customers are using can yield efficient results. The development process of a platform or a system can be much faster when you get more versatile and detailed feedback from your internal team, compared to only getting customer feedback.
Considering scalability in the long run is also imperative. What kinds of integrations allow future scaling? A company that is hyper-scaling, such as Wolt, knowing and understanding that current systems will not work endlessly is crucial. You need to be ready for when systems break, and be ready to replace them with something that works on a larger scale. Being agile and ready will save time.
Key message for future direction
Bringing business and technology together is crucial. Collaboration between these will lead to trying and finding new fruitful solutions. It might be difficult to do it throughout your company but trying to enhance collaboration for example with people or parts of your organisation that are more ready for it will be worthwhile. Try for example having a shared back-log.
“The key thing is to enable better teamwork, enhanced with analytics and data.” –Katrin Lindahl Wallin, Nordic Finance
IT should make an effort to understand the customer. Even joining customer meetings and getting to actually know the customer and what they are going through can be valuable and teach something new. IT shouldn’t fall in love with IT systems, as all code is disposable. Love the problem, not the solution.
Would you like to hear what exactly our experts said during the panel discussion? Watch the webinar as an on-demand recording, and learn more details about how you can make your IT and active driver for sales.
Originally published at https://www.columbiaroad.com.