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The Two Sides of the Transformation Coin: Digital Outside and Inside

The amount of information created each day is enormous, and it continues to outstrip the abilities of workers to process incoming requests and information submitted from customers and prospects, and for sales, service, support and finance to fulfill those requests internally. This unending deluge of structured and unstructured information pushes organizations to ditch their old, outdated ways of working. In place of old ways, they must embrace a plethora of channels to capture the ever-rising amounts and types of data generated by customers in an effort to become fully digital on the outside.

At the same time, enterprises are concerned with internal efficiency and advances in operational excellence in their rapidly changing industries. In response, they are putting their efforts behind new systems that transform digital operations, streamline internal processes, reduce the information glut, integrate business applications with information stores and go digital inside.

This pressure leads to two perceived choices:

  • Digital outside. Many firms start by doubling down on the customer experience. They do this because many of their customers engage both digitally and physically whenever and however they choose—often switching channels as circumstances change—while expecting the same level of service across all channels. Plus, these customers and prospects expect their providers to have all the relevant data, documents, images, forms, and other information needed to service their requests, no matter which channel they are using at any given time. And these customers expect their suppliers to anticipate their needs and delight them during “moments of truth” when they re-decide whether to continue doing business with the firm.
  • Digital inside. Many other firms start their digital journey by focusing their transformation strategies on internal operations. These organizations seek a big jump in quality of service or products, greater efficiency gains that translate to higher profits, lowered risk of being non-compliant or even improvements in hard-to-measure initiatives, like greater collaboration that leads to more innovative, competitive products. Some organizations are also making internal-only processes available to customers to increase the level of self-management that customers can undertake.

Can they do both at the same time?

Taken together, digital outside and digital inside are two sides of the same coin, although many enterprises mistakenly focus on, or only see, one side of the coin as they embark on digital transformation.  Most senior executives choose one or the other approach when getting started, but usually not both. Which of the two digital worlds to start with first—digital outside or digital inside– depends on many factors, including the organization’s business strategy, industry, customers, partners, competitors, workforce, culture and technology.

But, it’s an illusion to think that the organization can decide to focus on digital outside exclusively and put digital inside on a shelf—or vice versa. That’s because the six key steps for delighting customers in a digital outside world are directly and strategically connected to the six key business functions inside organizations for delivering on those promises. For more, read our report Transform Customer Experience and Operational Excellence By Going Digital Outside and Inside.


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