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Why I joined Digital Clarity Group: When digital and personal disruption collide

After a two-year hiatus from the world of work I’m back at it again, having just joined Digital Clarity Group as senior vice president, research. (Here’s the bio.) You may be wondering, why now? And why DCG?  Good questions.

Why now?

The “why now” is easy. I left the workforce in January 2013 because of a rare medical condition that almost stopped me dead in my tracks. Now I’m close to fully recovered and ready to go. It’s a great time to be advising companies that are struggling to make digital strategies and customer experience management (CEM) a reality. It’s also a great time for helping vendors apply technology in new ways to close their customers’ customer experience expectation gap. And the truth is, it’s a struggle: too many corporations and government agencies are finding it almost impossible to align customer-experience strategies and “corporate lip service” with their hopelessly out-of-date, internally oriented business processes.

Although it often seems we are living in the Age of the CMO, realistically, these processes are well beyond the reach, experience, and track record of CMOs. Sooner or later every organization will realize that business transformation to overcome massive digital disruption in their industry requires no less than the deep involvement of multiple disciplines and multiple executives working together in multi-disciplinary teams.

Why Digital Clarity Group?

“Why DCG” is also easy.  This small start-up has been punching way above its weight, going pound for pound many rounds longer than its much bigger competitors that are themselves mired in older business models. Many reasons account for this upstart’s success, but one is that Digital Clarity Group has internalized a vision for how advocates of a disruptive customer experience must work across customer experience management, business process management (BPM), and many other disciplines to transform and innovate their industries by 2020, if not before. For example, as my former (and now new-again) colleague, Tim Walters, states in his Insight Paper, “Beyond Marketing: Why Digital Disruption Requires a Deeper Transformation,”

Sitting on the sidelines is not an option. Success will require a long-term commitment, a full company transformation, and the willingness to embrace disruption rather than avoid it. ‘That’s not how we do things here’ will appear on the tombstones of the hesitant and timid.

Take insurance companies, for example, which Tim referenced in his recent blog post. The insurance industry has been reeling for several years as disruptive forces surround them. While health insurance companies first expended every ounce of their strength fighting Obamacare, only to now embrace it, life insurance companies have been waging an existential battle for relevance in a fundamentally changed financial world that’s no longer interested in buying whole-life policies around the kitchen table. “Marketers are on the front lines of customer engagement” but we all must be clear: they are only the tip of the spear. It doesn’t do anyone any good if the customer gets a warm and fuzzy feeling from a great chat experience resulting from a recent overhaul by the marketing department if the company then sends the customer faulty products, doesn’t ever deliver the right goods, or is a pain in the neck to deal with after the sale is completed. As Tim observes, “this means fundamental changes in every aspect of the insurance business – not only sales and marketing, but risk assessment, claims adjustment, asset management, customer support, and the way in which policies are written, described, and contracted.”

At the nexus of radical, disruptive change

So, it’s the right time and the right place—standing at the nexus of radical, disruptive change coming from many diverse sources. As old technologies give way to newer, better, faster approaches; as business models bend to embrace a wildly more social, interconnected, and global world; as the aging population in Western countries yields to a much larger, younger, energetic workforce in developing countries; and as old products get replaced by radically different technology-infused goods, it’s a great time to be charting the course for the future and figuring out how to get there from here.




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