We may not recognize them at first, but every day we witness examples of how digital transformation can be well done, and how it isn’t. Sometimes it is hard to explain how it looks like, but hopefully, at the end of this short article, you’ll be with me in the “I’ll recognize it when I see it” camp.
A few months ago, a good friend, Alejandro, told me a story on how he experienced the big difference on how the “legacy” leaders of certain segments handle things, and how differently the leaders of the new economy would approach them. His example had to do with a computer being delivered to his house while he was traveling. One of the leaders in logistics failed to deliver his computer because they couldn’t find anybody at home, and they returned it to the sender.
At the same time, Amazon was asking him whether if they should deliver a package to the place where he was at the moment, traveling away from home.
I had a very similar episode just a few days ago, while I was preparing to leave to see family and for a short vacation.
My travel plans included a two separate reservations, one for flying from the US to Gattwick in London, and another one for our roamings in Europe. This second reservation started out of Heathrow. These two airports are at least an hour away from each other by any practical means of transportation. As often happen, one of our flights was cancelled and we were placed in a later one. Even though both reservations were made on the same airline, and on the same user’s account, they disregarded the time we needed to get from one airport to the other. We would lose our connection. Fortunately, I did, but when I tried, I was not able to make the changes on the app, nor their website, no matter how hard I tried. I had to call them. Yes, actually dial their phone number, get past the message that they were too busy to talk to me, and still, convince an agent that I had to make a change after his initial reaction was that I had plenty of time to catch my connection in just an hour.
While this was playing out, I was also trying to share my itinerary with a family member, and I asked him if he was a user of “TripIt”. I have been an early adopter of “TripIt” because of its capacity to extract details from forwarded itineraries and receipts, and organize them in one single place. It will become clearer in a minute why I mention this.
He replied that no, that he didn’t use TripIt, but as I have become accustomed with him, he said he used something very similar, “Google Trips”.
I have never used Google Trips before. I didn’t even have a login for it, but I gave it a try. As with many things Google, I used my Gmail ID. To my astonishment, there it was: Google had parsed through all my emails and extracted the airline, hotel, AirBnB, and rental car reservations, and organize them beautifully.
This is the state of digital transformation:
An Airline cannot competently make an itinerary change for a customer without causing a problem, even though all the flights are for the same passenger and created under the same login. At the same time, a third-party data-driven company like Google, assembles the whole thing.
Clearly, travel and logistics are no longer just about transportation, but about information.