Many utilities are in the process of trying to reinvent themselves as digital enterprises. Here, Maree Mamo, Partner, Management Consulting at KPMG, discusses the purpose of digital transformation — to deliver a great customer experience and be able to constantly adapt to changing customer expectations.

Ahead of her appearance at the Digital Utilities 2019 conference, taking place from 21-22 March in Melbourne, Ms Mamo explained that digital transformation isn’t an objective in itself.

“If a utility decision maker is thinking about priorities for digital transformation, then that decision maker has their priorities wrong!

“Digital transformation is not the objective. Transforming an organisation to be customer-centric is the objective – digital transformation is merely the enabler.

“No really successful digital company thinks about how to be ‘digital’ as a first thought – they think about how to design great experiences with the customer at the centre. They then think about how they can bring those experiences to life at pace.”

Ms Mamo emphasised that, at its core, transformation is about transforming legacy organisations to customer-centric ones.

“Legacy organisations can be characterised as inward facing and siloed. Customer-centric organisations are characterised as those that are able to engage with the customer at a holistic and relationship level. In my experience, transformations fail because the organisation can’t make the cultural change required to become customer-centric,” Ms Mamo said.

Creating cultural change

Cultural change is both the challenge and the opportunity for any organisation using digital technologies to enable its customer experience vision.

The concept of service design is a customer-centred approach. It begins with clarity on what customer problem you’re trying to solve, then ideating possible solutions and testing those solutions early in the design phase to ensure you design a product, service or experience that resolves the customer problem you identified initially.

This approach is rising in popularity as it puts the customer at the centre of designing great digital experiences, but it requires cross-functional teams throughout the approach; each with their unique technical expertise assessing desirability, feasibility and viability.

According to Ms Mamo, service design, by its very nature, is a horizontal way of working. It challenges the way ‘work’ has been done for a 100 years — command and control, functional silos, delegations of authority, deep set governance and bureaucracy — changing the very nature of ‘leadership’ as we know it.

“How does a senior leader embrace change when their worth, to this point, has been measured by the size of their budget, their deep understanding of that siloed function and their span of control?” Ms Mamo said.

“How do they embrace sponsoring squads dedicated to focusing on a moment in the customer’s journey, whose experience is deeper and wider than theirs, with command and control replaced by empowerment?

“Can leaders adapt and find self-worth, and new identities, in these very foreign ways of working?”

Ms Mamo said that organisations who do not embrace customer-centricity will simply be left behind.

“If they do not focus on truly understanding their customers, their needs, their problems and don’t make the necessary changes to people, process and technology that enable that centricity, empathy and personalisation, then that’s not a great business model for success.”

How is your organisation enriching its understanding of customer behaviour?

Hear more from Maree Mamo about transforming to a consumer-centric organisation at Digital Utilities 2019, running from 21-22 March at the Pullman Hotel Albert Park in Melbourne.