<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/995099146/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0"> <script src="//platform.linkedin.com/in.js" type="text/javascript"> lang: en_US
McKinsey & Company Defines “Digital” in an Interesting Way Blog Feature
John Zimmerer

By: John Zimmerer on August 15th, 2015

Print/Save as PDF

McKinsey & Company Defines “Digital” in an Interesting Way

Customer Experience

We recently recommended that organizations work to define roles and terminology much more clearly as they move forward with their customer experience improvement plans in order to avoid confusion and missed opportunities. McKinsey & Company reinforces this idea in a recent article entitled “What ‘Digital’ Really Means,” asserting, “Even as CEOs push forward with their digital agendas, it’s worth pausing to clarify vocabulary and sharpen language.” The authors of this article specifically focus on the definition of the word “digital,” which represents a surprising diversity of ideas among business leaders:

“For some executives, it’s about technology. For others, digital is a new way of engaging with customers. And for others still, it represents an entirely new way of doing business. None of these definitions is necessarily incorrect. But such diverse perspectives often trip up leadership teams because they reflect a lack of alignment and common vision about where the business needs to go. This often results in piecemeal initiatives or misguided efforts that lead to missed opportunities, sluggish performance, or false starts.”

We’ve observed this in customer communications management (CCM) as well, where omnichannel digital communications represent in many organizations a daunting new frontier for those tasked with customer service and retention.


The McKinsey & Company article goes on to break their definition of digital down into three attributes: creating value at the new frontiers of the business world, creating value in the processes that execute a vision of customer experiences, and building foundational capabilities that support the entire structure.

We were most interested in the second section, which pertains directly to delivering great customer experiences via digital channels and echos much of what we’ve been thinking and learning ourselves lately. A few relevant excerpts from that section (emphasis ours):

"Critically, digital isn’t about just working to deliver a one-off customer journey. It’s about implementing a cyclical dynamic where processes and capabilities are constantly evolving based on inputs from the customer, fostering ongoing product or service loyalty. Making this happen requires an interconnected set of four core capabilities:

  • Proactive decision making. Relevance is the currency of the digital age. This requires making decisions, based on intelligence, that deliver content and experiences that are personalized and relevant to the customer. …
  • Contextual interactivity. This means analyzing how a consumer is interacting with a brand and modifying those interactions to improve the customer experience. For example, the content and experience may adapt as a customer shifts from a mobile phone to a laptop or from evaluating a brand to making a purchasing decision. …
  • Real-time automation. …Automation of customer interactions can boost the number of self-service options that help resolve problems quickly, personalize communications to be more relevant, and deliver consistent customer journeys no matter the channel, time, or device. …
  • Journey-focused innovation. Serving customers well gives companies permission to be innovative in how they interact with and sell to them. … These innovations in turn fuel more interactions, create more information, and increase the value of the customer-brand relationship.

Read the rest of this interesting take on the meaning and business value of increasing digital capabilities in any business today.

Subscribe to blog