Unveiling the secrets to a successful digital journey

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Embarking on a digital journey can be a daunting experience. Many business leaders begin this adventure of innovation armed with a rough idea of what they want to achieve, but unsure of where to start.

In this comprehensive three-part exploration series of Synthesis TV, we seek to unpack the secrets to successful digital transformation, with the help of our industry leaders in the digital space.

Our team guides clients through the journey of discovering, designing, building, refining, and evolving their digital channels in order to enhance their business’s competitiveness both now and in the future. 

Where to start…

The very first step of the digital journey is all about asking the right questions. This allows us to envisage what the journey will look like, not only for our clients, but for their customers too.

We immerse ourselves in our clients’ worlds to fully understand their business goals and aspirations. Part of this process is stakeholder interviews, during which we find many of our clients have a broad idea of what they want to achieve, but lack focus. We identify common themes through contextual enquiries to solve the customer needs and business goals, explains Brandon Fairweather, Digital Strategy Director.

We help customers articulate what they want to achieve, which is sometimes a challenging task in itself. This is done through collaborative exercises that build up a collective knowledge base aimed at reaching shared objectives. Adopting a solution-led approach and falling in love with customer problems are key to developing products that build business value. Marsh Middleton, Business Director, explains how the team delves into creating business value for clients through truly understanding the customer’s experience. “This is identifying the sweet spot, where design comes in and customer centricity and user experience is of vital importance,” Marsh notes.

Once established, the process evolves strategically over time with a mutually agreed-upon approach to how the journey will progress. We strive to integrate highly complex technical systems with customer experience to ultimately serve the business needs in a simple and intuitive way.

“It’s actually about people-centricity and using technology to enable that,” agree Brandon and Marsh.

Creating the idea

A seamless transition from this initial Discovery phase is important when starting the technology build, though this phase remains experimental. “From a design perspective, we ideate and test concepts to outline what solutions will look like. Keeping the customers in the loop at every step, at a feature-by-feature level,” says Brandon.

The approach is not to just adopt technology but to understand what is going to work best for the customer in the long term. The recommendation not only needs to match but also exceed the customer’s expectations, explains Matthew Crockett, Synthesis Head of Digital. We broaden our perspectives to really look at what this means for the client’s customer. We consider the entire process and remain focused on people at every step. “Sometimes the perfect technology is not adaptable for the client, but this is why we are able to adapt and pivot pretty quickly,” says Matt. This is an integrated and living process – a journey of prototyping design, learning, and bouncing off the client to make sure we deliver the best possible solution for them.

“People don’t like change,” says Matt. It is a complex environment and “there are unknown, unknowns,” but it’s about building a relationship of trust with the client, so learning as we go is okay. We’re all focusing on the same goal and there is always room for creativity and change.

“We look to build that relationship and foundation to success with the client from the very start so that the process through the journey is about executing the dream of the customer,” Matt and Brandon agree.

The magic of Synthesis lies in the passion of our team members, who are committed to building the right thing. Each part of the team comes together with unique specialised skills bringing together tech and design. “That’s truly where creativity and innovation come from, because we are constantly challenging each other to deliver the best,” says Brandon.

Deep dive into the Tech and Design

The various stages of the journey are not disparate; everything is interlinked, and we consistently reflect as we build the solution. “Looking at digital transformation holistically from tech to design to build,” explains Daniel Horne, Digital Principal. We continuously engage with the customer to ensure that they are comfortable with each step of the process.

For clients who prefer a “just get things done” approach, we try to pull them into the conversation more because that is the only way we are going to ensure that we deliver on the expectations that they have. Communication is key; we request that project managers are frequently involved in stand-ups. This enables us to adapt and pivot quicker, avoiding any delays in the process explains Aleshan Maistry, Digital Principal.

During deployment, we use this process to create a comfortable space where the client is happy with what we ultimately want to deliver. We make changes, create a framework, and align to the design so that the client can visualise the end product. At this stage, there is greater flexibility for modifications. During production, we identify and rectify bugs. Even with proactive expectation management, challenges can still arise in addressing bugs. It’s about recognising the iterative nature of the process, building trust and confidence with the client and demonstrating that value will be delivered at every step towards the ultimate goal. “Developing communication skills is also really important when it comes to establishing the relationship with the client,” says Daniel.

“The priorities of the team change when you get to the go-live stage. The focus is on adding features as it is now a solution that people are already using so it’s about maintaining what has been built and making sure it is running effectively,” explains Aleshan.

Reflecting on a storyboard is the final step, where we illustrate our progress and our vision for the future. This not only excites our customers but also motivates our passionate team to advance applications, generate innovative ideas, and truly disrupt our field. “We learn at every step of the way with our clients,” says Aleshan.

It’s an exciting space to inhabit, building innovative technologies that generate business value. For more information, go to:  https://www.synthesis.co.za/unveiling-the-secrets-to-a-successful-digital-journey/