Accelerating digital transformation: corporations are striking back

Hanna-Mari Parkkinen

Digital transformation is a hot topic.  Every single executive is battling to understand how to cope with drastically changing customer behaviour. And on the flip side, as users we want things that work, and more often than not, across all the digital channels we use every day. Why would we bother to go to the bank if the bank came to us? I left my hometown in the Eastern border of Finland 25 years ago and I still do all my banking there. Why? Because my bank has offered digital banking 20 + years.

When we talk about the icons of the digital era, there is a tendency to focus on Facebook, Instragram and Skype. Yet in doing so we completely ignore large companies such as Citi, BBVA and Telefonica that are accelerating their company’s UX transformation and in doing so, creating a whole new wave of digital services and experiences that are defining modern life. Of course the social side of Facebook and Instagram will always be fun; it’s great to keep in contact with friends across the globe and write snappy little messages but honestly, I think it’s much cooler to say that I have not visited my bank in the Eastern border of Finland since 1993.


The difference is that large corporations like BBVA, Citibank and Telefonica have the resources, talent and commercial drive to make it happen, now. The results are market and arguably era defining digital services that are changing the behaviours of everyone who uses them. It’s a revolution that is rapidly gaining momentum too because if they are designed well, people will use them, talk about them and encourage others to do the same.

Ultimately though, if you are to change a company like Telefonica with 125 000 + team of telecom professionals vs. a tiny 13+ Instagram team to make them more customer-centric, then you need a radically different approach. And one of the greatest things about Fjord is that sometimes we get to join our clients on their UX transformation journeys and help them along the way.

So here is a snapshot about what we have learnt from the best:

1. Centre your strategy around the user – not the offering  

The best players are establishing new UX leadership roles and aligning their organizations to serve the user. In doing so they are not building their products in silos. They are also re-vamping their product development processes to center around the user. This is a strategy they are applying across the digital and physical products.

This breed of company also centres everything they do around user needs. Some even talk even about users journeys and the unique value propositions that are created along the way. This kind of thinking filters right through the organisation and means the C-level are event prepared to delay a launch until they are satisfied their service offering is truly unique.

On time, on budget naturally are all drivers. But answering the question “does it really matter to our business?” is a top priority amongst some of the top digital players in the world.

2. Build a transformation roadmap with a tangible vision – not a series of uncoordinated pilots  

Planning is essential and many of the organisations we’ve worked with have established 2-3 year transformation roadmaps with clear strategic targets. For example moving 70% of client contacts to digital channels and at the same time driving the cost per contact down by 80%. If you do not know where you are going it is difficult to get there. This is true also with digital transformation.

These kind of targets demand that the transformation programs touch everything from product development processes, organizational structures to management bonus programs.  These targets cannot be reached with a series of pilots in different silo organizations. They envision transferred user journeys across all their products and digital channels.

3. Manage your digital transformation – not the organization 

It’s a long journey and change doesn’t happen overnight, but when it does, it’s worth it. These companies don’t just measure the accuracy of their plan but rather, the business impact they create. And that requires clear measures that center around the user value created.

The best players have also realized that digitalization it is a change journey and it takes time. A journey they cannot afford to miss. That’s why I’m a loyal customer for my bank –  they got it right 20 + years ago.


Hanna-Mari Parkkinen

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