The Customer Experience Perspective — Customers should be the central figure in driving digital transformation. Every customer in today’s world wants to have a personalized experience catered to their unique needs. Regardless of an organization’s roadmap for digital initiatives, it’s vital to understand that the customer is already living in the digital world. The customer is always connected, constantly engaged, and cherishes the seamless user experience of the digital solutions provided by early adopters. Hence, it enables companies to rethink how they interact with their customers and design a flawless customer experience.
As part of our series about “How To Use Digital Transformation To Take Your Company To The Next Level”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Eric Kim, Co-Founder & CEO of Quantum Mob.
Eric is a creative technologist at heart. He started building websites from the age of 14 and has never stopped since. His interests in science, software, design, and user experience culminated in the creation of Quantum Mob, a Toronto-based Digital innovation firm that specializes in providing feature-rich digital experiences through web and mobile.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Growing up, I was always fascinated by the various streams of science and spent a lot of time cultivating that interest, so it only seemed natural that I would gravitate towards technology later in life. I met Erich Reich, my Co-founder, while working on the same team at our previous employer. He shared the same passion I had for bringing things alive in the digital world. It wasn’t until 2016 (and after a few beers) that we decided to bring a differentiation in the software development industry based on our passion. We wanted to advance technology and make it accessible for others.
Fast forward to today, Quantum Mob’s journey has been full of innovation, growth, and learning. We’ve worked with companies from Fortune 500 to start-ups across various industries, and I’m proud to say that our digital products have positively impacted more than 15 million people.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
This would definitely have to be our first sales meeting. Imagine two technology enthusiasts with no sense of how to sell, showing up overdressed and overprepared. We walked into the conference room, suits on and binded proposals in hand, only to encounter potential customers dressed very casually. Not only that, but we had spent a tremendous amount of effort researching and drafting that proposal for an introductory meeting. It’s funny today, but from where I stand now, I can say we were definitely too eager to showcase our expertise and start building.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I’m grateful to everyone we’ve worked with and everyone who has helped us throughout this ongoing journey. One particular person is Asad Zaman, an advisor. He worked with us when we were two people working in coffee shops and still continues to show his support. Interestingly, he and I met when I worked with him as a developer on his previous start-up. Today, the tables have turned and he’s the one helping Quantum Mob with his valuable guidance.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Being the physics nerd that I am, this would definitely have to be interstellar. Starting Quantum Mob was always more than just building software, it’s about all of the ways we can use technology to bring the future into everyone’s hands. The challenges fought by the protagonists in Interstellar required them to explore the unknown and urgently advance technology to save our future, while racing against the planet’s environmental destruction. It represents humanity’s ambition to solve difficult problems without the rose-tinted glasses. It’s important for me to be a part of that progress in whatever way I can.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?
We had started Quantum Mob out of a passion for building amazing digital products for people. Our purpose grew when we started working on the field with businesses of all sizes who had one problem in common: their cultures weren’t optimized for constant innovation. In other words, the technology they used and the processes they implemented to manage their tech teams were sometimes far from what we expected them to be. Our purpose became to encourage and enable companies to continue the product and technology innovations that made them who they are. The end results were secure, robust, and scalable digital solutions that focus on creating a positive user experience.
Are you working on any new, exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?
Quantum Mob is currently working on many new and exciting projects that are meant to address the current need for digital transformation. These projects are meant to completely revamp the way some companies are conducting their business through technology in order to disrupt their industries. We’ve also made it a priority to be true to our values and work on community projects that are promoting diversity and helping front-line workers.
Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion about Digital Transformation. For the benefit of our readers, can you help explain what exactly Digital Transformation means? On a practical level what does it look like to engage in a Digital Transformation?
Digital Transformation means championing a shift in your organizational culture, abandoning traditional channels, and prioritizing digital ones. It is the integration of digital technology into all areas of your business, resulting in fundamental changes in how the business operates and the value it delivers to its customers. The digital transformation market is expected to grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 22.7 percent from 2019 to $3,294 billion by 2025 (Research and Markets).
There are a multitude of incentives for organizations to become digital-first. Digital Transformation definitely took on a new meaning in 2020, with a lot of businesses rapidly moving online in order to keep operating, emphasizing the importance of being nimble in today’s market. In practice, this meant transforming customer experience, employee experience, and operations.
Which companies can most benefit from a Digital Transformation?
Every growing and ambitious company can benefit from digital transformation. In fact, I would say that any company that wants to survive and grow in the market must engage in it immediately. This pandemic has forced organizations to reassess their digital transformation roadmaps, pivoting from a 3-year step-by-step process to an intensive 3-month accelerated implementation with budgets focussed towards becoming entirely digital now.
We’d love to hear about your experiences helping others with Digital Transformation. In your experience, how has Digital Transformation helped improve operations, processes and customer experiences? We’d love to hear some stories if possible.
We’ve enabled many companies to rethink how they interact with their customers and design amazing customer experiences.
One of our customers underwent a complete transformation towards digital. The coordination of their activities used to happen entirely in person and on the ground, which means that the pandemic hit them particularly hard. As soon as the lockdown regulations began, we helped them by building an admin-client-partner portal that would help them manage and coordinate their activities online. We focused on the interaction between consumers and the business through this portal, ultimately making it possible for them to continue their activities as usual. This was a particularly good example of how necessary digital transformation is, and how it improves a business’ operations.
Another organization benefited from the creation of a digital loyalty platform that transitioned their customers’ experience from retail stores to this online platform. This was very well-received by consumers because it allowed them to easily access and redeem offers on their phones and computers, creating a new way for the organization to engage with their customers.
Has integrating Digital Transformation been a challenging process for some companies? What are the challenges? How do you help resolve them?
Going digital has its own set of challenges such as accomplishing organizational and team buy-in, lacking the right talent or expertise within the company, and change management. The integration of digital transformation has definitely been a challenge for companies that aren’t “agile”. This is a prerequisite to revamp technologies or processes and be accountable towards the results. Without the necessary agility, companies are unable to iterate quickly and change their direction as necessary throughout their transformation. However, the benefits far outweigh the risks in the long run. Many companies report optimizing their operational budgets resulting in cost savings. It is vital to be digital-first to stay ahead of your competitors, just as the competitors are trying to stay ahead of you.
The best solution for this is simple: Training. All departments of a company, regardless of whether they are directly facing the new changes or not, need to be trained to be more agile. One way this can be done is through collaborating with digital champions like Quantum Mob, who will manage the transformation by educating people on how to be agile and accountable in their adoption of new ways, making sure it’s a permanent change.
Ok. Thank you. Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are “Five Ways a Company Can Use Digital Transformation To Take It To The Next Level”? Please share a story or an example for each.
1. The Customer Experience Perspective
Customers should be the central figure in driving digital transformation. Every customer in today’s world wants to have a personalized experience catered to their unique needs. Regardless of an organization’s roadmap for digital initiatives, it’s vital to understand that the customer is already living in the digital world. The customer is always connected, constantly engaged, and cherishes the seamless user experience of the digital solutions provided by early adopters. Hence, it enables companies to rethink how they interact with their customers and design a flawless customer experience.
2. Gateway to Becoming Agile
Agile is not something you do, but something you become. Digital transformation paves the way for an organization to be truly agile. Furthermore, implementing agile methods into core business activities streamlines processes and tasks. Agile organizations use an open communication style to collaborate and share to harness long term business value.
3. The Insights Advantage
Data management and analytics should be at the core of digital strategy and help optimize the experience for target customers to facilitate a better prediction of future behaviors. Digital Transformation enables companies to better understand their customers by tracking metrics and analyzing the quantitative and qualitative data.
4. The ROI perspective
Digital Transformation reduces costs, increases productivity, and boosts business growth. It lays the groundwork for information management and automation which improves the efficiency of business processes. For instance, instead of managing store hours for a brick and mortar location, e-commerce allows businesses to be open 24/7, resulting in more convenient patronage for the customer and increased sales for the retailer.
5. The Work Culture Perspective
The current scenario has normalized remote working, and digital transformation has ensured business continuity. From recruiting and onboarding, to performance reviews, feedback, and team socials, every aspect of the office space has moved online. Furthermore, going digital enables easier collaboration across teams and provides the flexibility that enables effective communication and connections spanning international offices.
In your opinion, how can companies best create a “culture of innovation” in order to create new competitive advantages?
One of the keys to create a culture of innovation in a company is to make sure that your team isn’t afraid of failure. Specifically, if you’re able to change what failure means within your work environment, your team will be empowered to be vocal and have courageous conversations that will create a culture of experimentation and innovation.
Another important factor is to incorporate training and make it accessible to everyone. By constantly training your team and upskilling theml, you’re encouraging exploration and the introduction of new ideas.
Finally, I’d like to stress the importance of introducing an aspect of chaos. A lot of companies have grown to be blackboxes and silos, where they aren’t aware of what’s happening outside of their own organization, and if they are, they do not understand the value of these foreign ideas or technologies. It’s important to stay aware of what’s happening in the industry and its evolving sentiments. Make sure that your teams are constantly engaging and exchanging with other industry experts. Working with external providers in the right way allows a company to integrate with external knowledge and cross-pollinate ideas.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
This has to be “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” by Steve Jobs. It keeps me motivated on one side, and open minded on the foolish side at the same time. I also strongly believe in the impact of failing in life, and this quote encourages me to not be afraid of failure and to welcome it whenever it comes as a lesson to reach my goals.
How can our readers further follow your work?
Readers can refer to Quantum Mob’s blog at https://qmo.io/ where our different projects and interests are discussed. They may also follow me through Quantum Mob’s Instagram, @quantum_mob and my personal LinkedIn channel.
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!