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Spark New Zealand Answers The Digital Transformation Call

The deregulation of the government-owned New Zealand Post Office in the late 1980s led to the creation of one of island nation’s largest companies, Spark New Zealand.

However, the journey towards a modern, digitally enabled business has been challenging. Historically, the business operated in silos that led to unnecessary duplication, complexity, and divided resources. But the need to simplify business processes and focus on the customer provided the catalyst for change across all business units.

CMO.com recently spoke to Spark New Zealand’s Warren Davies, design manager, digital channels, and Lena Jenkins, digital change leader, in the lead-up to their July 26 presentation at Adobe Symposium 2016, in Sydney. (Click here to register for the event.)

CMO.com: What will be the theme of your Symposium presentation?
Davies: Our theme is a story of change and how we have transitioned from a traditional telco to a digitally enabled business focused on customers.

The telecommunications industry in New Zealand has gone through a lot of change in the past few years, such as the operational separation of the lines business. This has led to increased competition with local and global providers. We are now under a lot of pressure to differentiate, not just in terms of price but in products and customer experiences.

Our customers are demanding change. They want a diverse range of digital products and services they can use in their own way, not the same old services from a traditional phone company.

Our presentation will show how we’ve responded to these challenges, what we’ve learned, and how other businesses facing similar challenges can apply these lessons.

CMO.com: Why is this theme particularly relevant to marketers now?
Davies:
Global disruption and changing customer expectations mean businesses must move from traditional marketing to experience delivery. Our products and services across the board are actually quite complicated. We need to use personalisation techniques to get the right message to the right customer at the right time. We need to take the complexity out of the customer experience through a more personalised service.

CMO.com: Why are telco products and services so complicated?
Davies:
We have a wide range of customers with a wide range of needs. When you combine that with a legacy of silo-created products, you end up with the level of complexity we have today. We are simplifying that complexity so customers can more easily understand what the right solution is for them. It’s a big job, but we have made a lot of progress.

CMO.com: How are you approaching this product simplification given the levels of digital disruption occurring at the moment?
Davies:
Firstly, we’ve simplified our technology. We’ve done a huge amount of work to consolidate our product catalogues into a master catalogue, our core customer applications, order management, customer CRM, and online channels. We also installed a master digital experience platform. Now we’re adding components to deliver an enhanced digital experience capability on top of that foundation. A lot of the pieces are in place, but in a way the technology has been the easy bit.

CMO.com: That’s the nuts and bolts, but is the technology platform the whole story?
Jenkins: That is really the main theme of our talk at Symposium–it’s important not to get distracted by the technology. Yes, there are complexities in technical implementation, but the harder part is the people and process change necessary for digital transformation. Having to understand measurement, analysis, and context forced us to change the way our business worked. As a marketer, you now need to think about products and services in the context of the customer’s life. You can’t solve this problem with traditional mass-marketing tool kits and methods.

CMO.com: What's the most important thing marketers can do to stay on top of the digital business landscape?
Davies:
I’m not a marketer, but given our challenges I’d say you need to get all parts of your business working together. A quality customer experience relies increasingly on measurement and data, so build a strong trusted relationship with your technical and data teams. Consider how you capture the data, the importance of insights, and what that means to customers, not just in sales activities but product design and service experiences. Lastly, using data insights to measure effectiveness is a great way to gain support from the leadership team.

CMO.com: What's your greatest challenge?
Jenkins:
Since we don’t just sell T-shirts, it’s the need to better understand our customers and give them the best experience of our brand. We’ve gone through a lot of change as a response to disruption. Now we are well-placed to disrupt by providing high-quality customer experiences supported by a culture of measurement, insights, and action.

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