Digital transformation – the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business – has accelerated during the pandemic. The rate of adoption varies from sector to sector. Most reports estimate an acceleration of between five and ten years. In the space of four months. As a result, the focus for many businesses is exploiting the technology and unleashing its potential. But the role of your brand in digital transformation, is to make sure that the customer – and their experience – remains at the heart of the process.

Under the influence of Covid-19 we have become more comfortable with technology and more confident in using it. But we have also become more dependent on technology. For businesses, this is a scenario that brings a significant degree of risk. In this situation it’s increasingly easy for technology to dominate every aspect of the customer relationship. As a result, technology can become the most important thing, not the customer.

The customer relationship

n an environment of rapid digital transformation, it’s easy for a business to focus on building a better digital solution. But what you should focus on is building a better relationship with the customer. The opposite is also true. In this situation your customer builds a relationship with the technology, not your business.

This can result in a fragile relationship. One that is easily broken. Technology is very good at delivering the transactional aspects of the customer relationship. This could be things like competitive prices, increased availability and faster delivery. But these are elements that can be easily copied by competitors. They’re not the foundation of a long-term, stable customer relationship. This is why it is important to understand the role of your brand in digital transformation.

Apple leads by example

Apple has been at the forefront of digital transformation for society. Their technology has become integral to our culture, on a global scale. The reason for this is that Apple has been built around customers, not technology. Their products – from the first operating system, to touch screen interfaces and voice command – are evidence of this.

This “customer-first” approach is reflected in their advertising too. Apple’s 1984 advert and the Think different campaign in 1997 didn’t talk about product features. They highlighted the benefit of Apple technology to customers – the potential it could unlock. It’s this focus on customers, not technology, that has enabled Apple to become fundamental to the digital transformation of society.

Understanding your customer

Digital transformation is about understanding how your customers’ experience can be improved by digital technology. It’s not about identifying how digital technology might benefit your customers. It’s important to remember that technology is just the means-to-an-end. Your digital technology, however innovative, is simply a way of helping your customers to fulfil a need or overcome a challenge. Regardless of sector, budget or location, your customer is just a person who buys things they need or like, from people they trust.

If you focus on your customers, and their experience of your business, you can build trust. Trust is built around shared values. Your values are one of the foundations of your brand. Your values should influence how you do business. Not what you do, but how you do it. Without this connection between your values and your customers’ experience, it’s very hard to build trust.

This is important because a successful digital transformation is built on trust, not technology. So the role of your brand in digital transformation, is to build that trust.