Meet Kevin Fitzsimons: our client go-to for clarity on digital strategy
Solnet welcomes Kevin Fitzsimons, our newest senior digital consultant.
Kevin will work with clients to help them understand why it’s important to develop a digital and customer first culture moving forward. What does that mean, exactly? We’ll let Kevin take it from here:
Hi, Kevin. Tell us about your background and how you’ve come to be a digital consultant for Solnet.
Back in the late ’90s, during the heyday of dial-up modems, I got into digital. Fresh out of University, I was working with government agencies on website builds.
After that, I moved overseas and lived in the UK and Ireland for 14 years. During this time, I led strategy at a technology, design and build company called LBi. I also led the strategy practice for Ogilvy, which is more in the advertising space, but that was where innovation was happening around digital.
Over the years, I found my strengths and interests revolved around digital transformation and customer experience. So, after returning to New Zealand three years ago, it was only natural I wanted to drive innovation in these areas.
Digital transformation (DT) seems to be one of those buzzwords out there now. So, what does it mean for the clients you work with? And how do you help them manage this all-encompassing idea of transformation?
DT is about adopting a user first approach and designing experiences from the outside in rather than the inside out. With users demanding good digital experiences, this often requires a business to make a cultural shift in terms of how teams think and operate.
Technology is the enabler of these changes but it won't work on its own. This is what makes digital transformation: A) too easy and B) too hard.
It takes mere moments to jump onto social media or SaaS platforms and say “now we're a digital business.” It’s also simple to exclaim “I want this; let’s go and build it.” That’s where digital becomes too hard because the 'doing' is so easy and the 'thinking' required to actually make it work effectively is overlooked.
When organisations cut strategy short, they tend to overspend on projects that don’t create the desired results. Then there’s a need to fix the problem, so it becomes time to re-invest in the latest technology — a vicious cycle takes hold.
I help organizations make the right choices at the right time to get them where they want to go with digital. I make strategic planning as easy and enjoyable as possible because I want our clients to see tangible business results and be proud of the experience they’ve delivered.
What do you enjoy most about consulting?
I enjoy the challenge. For me, it’s about finding a sweet spot that works for both the business and users. There are many different elements that go into that — business strategy, creativity, human psychology and technology. All of them fascinate me.
I also like the fast and fluid nature of where the digital process is these days. Working at speed, getting real-time feedback and seeing the immediate impacts of decisions is exciting.
What is your approach to working with different organisations?
Every client is different so my approach is always slightly different.
However, when it comes to success with digital transformation activities, my golden rule is that you must make clear choices and commit to them. It pays to be selective rather than try and do everything at once or reinvent the wheel. Focus on a small set of goals, define what success looks like and commit to making that happen.
I help our clients make the tough calls necessary to stay focused. I also help them take grand plans and break them down so they’re achievable.
Once leadership can understand and quantify the impacts decisions have on the business, the “where to next?” is more easily determined.
What are the biggest opportunities for New Zealand businesses wanting to improve their customer experiences?
New Zealanders take pride in our no. 8 wire mentally but the reality is this will only get us so far in the sort of environment we’re in now.
The big international competitors are getting closer and closer to our shores. The Amazon.coms of the world invest heavily in understanding their audiences and there’s a substantial amount of data supporting what they do next. They’re structured; they’re focused. That’s why they are as dominant as they are.
The hard thing for Kiwi businesses is that New Zealanders compare their digital transactions to the best-in-class experiences offered by global players. So, that's become the standard to aim for.
Think about Uber for a minute. You can see your driver’s location in real time so you know when your ride will arrive. Yet, if you want to get your washing machine fixed, you may have to stay home all day on Thursday because the repairman will arrive anytime between 9 am and 5 pm …
We are a small country at the bottom of the world, but we’ll need to up our digital game to stay competitive.
In your experience, how do New Zealand organisations identify the need to contact someone like yourself?
Generally, organisations find themselves in the following situations:
We know we have to do this “digital thing” but we don’t know where to start.
We’ve been doing a bunch of stuff but it doesn’t seem to be working. Or we did something and it’s busted ...
Our business model is threatened. We need to do something before it’s too late.
What do you think makes a good consultant? i.e. what would a company be looking for when they choose to bring someone into the fold?
Look for someone who drops the buzzwords and speaks in plain English. Success in digital transformation is about clarity.
Any final thoughts to share around digital strategy and transformation?
Don’t try to be perfect. Become comfortable working with less information. Jeff Bezos talks about working with 70% of the full picture. If you wait until you know everything, you’ll move too slowly.
We live and work in a global marketplace, in a global economy; and sooner or later, either locally or internationally, someone will come up with an idea to challenge the status quo. This competitor will offer an experience that’s better than what’s out there now.
Keep evolving, keep refining, and keep making your digital experiences as good as they can be. What’s happening now is not going to change. (And customers are never going to turn around and demand a bad experience!)