Day 1: Digital Transformation Is About the Journey, Not Just the Destination

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. The journey towards digital transformation begins with a single step as well: a step away from legacy systems, business models, cultures and technology, and towards a more efficient, customer-centric business.

Executives from inside and outside the mobile industry shared this sentiment at the “Embracing Digital Transformation & Digital Culture: Change or Die” session on Monday at Mobile World Congress. Presenters didn’t focus on life or death, but rather a journey towards a digitally mature business.

Make the digital experience easy for customers  

Ryanair CTO John Hurley explained the budget airline was originally thinking about their customer experience all wrong.

“We thought our fares are so good it doesn’t matter how difficult it is to engage with us digitally,” said Hurley.

But customers hated their website. And their mobile app. And that spurred Ryanair into action. They changed their focus to what customers wanted and needed. They launched a more customer-friendly website that allowed customers to create a profile, reducing clicks and time to book in the future.

Telefónica’s Chief Data Officer Chema Alonso said the carrier took a similar approach. They wanted to change the way customers interacted with technology and use data to “enrich the lives of [their] customers.”

On Sunday, they officially launched Aura, an AI-powered digital assistant that will be a “one-stop shop for customer needs.” Customers will be able to ask about their bill across channels and interact with the network in real time.

Use the right technology

Ryanair’s Hurley knows that speed and efficiency is crucial, not just for their fleet but for their digital properties. They have the world’s busiest airline website, and their mobile app has 29 million downloads.

But inflexible technology held them back. Their development team is in a constant struggle to keep up with rapid delivery. To support their digital transformation and be faster, they’re moving to a cloud-first strategy for their new website release.

Telefónica’s Alonso said their biggest challenge is moving away from a legacy system. But they are investing in end-to-end digitalization, which will help them be more operationally efficient.

These efforts can pay off—according to McKinsey research, digital transformation initiatives can increase revenue by 15 percent and reduce cost to serve by 20 percent.

Embrace change in the organization

Almost every company at the session stressed the importance of employee commitment to digital transformation. At Ryanair, their CEO committed to digital transformation, and their IT dev executes with a two-week development cycle. At Telefónica, they built a powerful development team internally.

At Dialog Axiata, Group Chief Customer Officer Sandra De Zoysa explained how they hosted a day-long employee event to get employees educated and excited about instilling “digital DNA” into the organization. They also invested $6 million into digital talent development for their employees, some of whom are called “digital native artisans.”

Why is it important to get everyone on board? As De Zoysa explained, “Everyone can relate to a passion for doing things to create a great customer experience.”

The next steps in digital transformation

Each company has embarked on their digital transformation journey, creating better customer experiences and a more efficient business model. And there’s only one way to keep moving: forward.