Contributors: Gert-Jan Andries, Christophe Cresens and Jonathan Sauer
When you can’t take-off anymore
Three magicians, or at least that’s what they’re calling themselves, revolutionised the way corporate communication was done, in just a matter of weeks, by setting new standards.
Imagine these planes representing your sales staff, grounded from one day to another. Brand new airplanes, fully equipped with the latest features ready to conquer the world. Then disaster strikes and the airplanes are grounded for an unknown period of time. Airplanes can no longer do what they do best, welcoming travellers on-board of their flamboyant hulls.
Now, replace these brand new airplanes with your account managers, ready to spread their enthusiasm and expertise on the products they sell, grounded at home. A grim outlook, but all too familiar for a lot of us.
In Worldline’s "The World after COVID-19" whitepaper, we discuss the essential digitisation trend, which can be summarised as the need to digitise with vigour to survive an extreme black swan event such as the ongoing pandemic. As the first wave of COVID-19 caught everyone by surprise, many business models were tested for resilience much quicker than the test of time would have. In fact, for many, the way of operating and interacting with customers had to be completely re-designed in order to meet the new safety and regulatory requirements that became the new norm with little or no notice. This also had a huge impact on companies’ processes. For example, processes for which human interaction is key could no longer take place due to restrictions.
Before the digital age, society operated only with physical and material objects and processes. Your primary source of information would be a newspaper in hard copy, which you would have to go and buy from a physical seller. Now of course, you have access to news and information from all over the world at the click of a button. This is thanks to the digital revolution. The process of turning analogue processes or services into digital is called: Digitisation. But what is the difference between digitisation and digitalisation?
- Digitisation is converting analogue products and services to digital. An example of this is your bank switching from sending you paper bank statements by post to providing them in an app or online.
- Digitalisation is leveraging this digital information to improve your business or services as a whole. For example, meetings held remotely by video conference; digitalisation has allowed us to bypass the logistics of getting everyone together in a meeting room; we can now talk together virtually even while being all in separate places.
It’s clear that you can’t have one without the other.
Sales people all over the globe were suddenly grounded. Just like airplanes, they could not be where they should be (in the old normal). Online PowerPoint presentations are boring, not engaging and not at all interactive. All ingredients are there to lose the focus of your customer just a few minutes in. Clearly, this process required to be adapted to the current situation, to be digitised. Curious about ow we digitised and finally digitalised our communications? Bear with us. . .
WL Digital Studio
The WL Digital Studio started, as many innovative ideas, at home in a bedroom during the first wave of the COVID-19 crisis. The initial tests to integrate Worldline products inside a virtual sales meeting were successfully conducted from home. After some tests to put the presenter in front of a slide deck, we knew that we had a solution to make online presentations more dynamic and interesting. As there was an urgent demand for this well executed concept, it rapidly got the attention it deserved and two iterations (read: studios) later, an investment was made for a semi-professional and permanent studio. Now, multiple studios are rolled out at our core locations to not only support our sales community, but also improve our internal communication.
In the beginning, the studio could only be operated by experts with knowledge of every aspect of the studio. The key success factor of the studio was making it accessible to all, from highly skilled technology experts to highly skilled sales people. Today, the studio can be operated by anyone who has followed a 1-hour training and passed a first experience in the studio with a more experienced colleague. The WL Digital Studios were born. . .
The Worldline Digital Studio being tested
Today, we have created a semi-professional studio making use of several high quality cameras, dedicated studio lighting and powerful computers to generate an output that pulls viewers into our digital experience. By doing this, we strive to give our audience a WOW effect that will become a long-lasting memory in their mind. It might look expensive, but imagine the saved travel costs. It also has a positive impact on our CSR. Unique challenges require unique results delivering the highest value possible.
The current crisis is not leading to the development of new technologies, but to the much faster and more generalised adoption of existing ones.
The studio is not build on new technologies nor is it a new invention. It’s a smart combination of existing technologies used to create immediate value where there was an urgent need for it.
The three magicians on a large virtual stage
A unique approach
Unique opportunities and challenges require a unique approach. Let’s start with a small story about small teams that made big (business) high value impacts in a short time.
In 1943, the U.S Army expressed its need for a first Jet powered fighter plane as a response to the rapidly growing German jet threat. The aviation industry was still in its infancy, there were only 40 years between the first flight and the request, and no jet engines existed yet. A young engineer (Kelly Johnson) accepted the request from the U.S Army and formed a small team of engineers and mechanics to start the project. In 143 days, the hand-picked team delivered the XP-80 Shooting star jet fighter. A fully functional aircraft that met the requirements of the customer was delivered. The XP-80 Shooting star jet fighter project marked the birth of what would later become the Lockheed Skunk Works.
As there was not enough place inside the Lockheed factory, they even worked out of a rented circus tent. This tent was placed next to a plastic factory that was responsible for a very foul smell. This is where the name "Skunk Works" originates from.
Why was this approach so successful? A Skunk Team is a group of a few well selected (highly and multi-skilled) individuals selected for the task and able to operate outside the bureaucracy of the company with the aim to quickly deliver a high quality solution within a short time frame and with a limited budget.
The value delivered to the end customer or end user is key and driven by the interactions with the end customers (or stakeholders) during the project phase. Extreme customer obsession is at the heart of the Skunk, which ensures delivering the right value for the customer within the right time frame.
In crisis mode, adaptation is the key to survive (essential digitisation). This can come from anywhere in your organisation regardless of its size. ... so they can create and deliver the required value to navigate your business as pilots navigate their plane through turbulent airspace.
Contrary to airplanes, our employees were able to adapt to the current situation and are no longer grounded. Instead, they are even more mobile than before, without being away from their families. This results in an even better work-life balance with a focus on their core skill, making a sale happen.
This does not mean that sales will not go out anymore, some meetings are still best done in-person, but they can serve customer betters when it matters.
We do not know exactly when the new normal will arrive, or exactly what it will look like. What we do strongly believe is that it will require businesses to adapt, and many will have to reinvent themselves completely.
For those who already have adapted or reinvented themselves,
Welcome to the new normal!