Digital Economy Success Factor #1: Meeting Customer Expectations

March 31, 2016

By Lindsey Anderson and Irving Wladawsky-Berger

(Part 1 of 4, originally published on

For several years now digital has been an appendage to “business as usual.” But recently, digital transformations have reached the tipping point where digital has become “business as usual”; the tail has become the dog. Digital is not just part of the economy — it is the economy.

It’s an economy of limitless opportunities for some and disruption and displacement for others. Many firms — such has Kodak, Blockbuster, Sears, and Blackberry — were unable to adapt, while others are thriving. According to MIT Sloan research, the companies that are adapting to a digital world are 26% more profitable than their industry peers.

How are these thriving firms reinventing themselves, their supply chains, and their marketplaces? For an upcoming MIT symposium on the topic, we’re focusing on four main themes: customer expectations, product enhancements, collaborative innovations, and organizational forms.

Customer Expectations

No transformation is more challenging than meeting the service expectations of digitally empowered customers. Digital technologies enable companies to better engage with their customers and offer superior experiences at affordable costs. But providing outstanding experiences to increasingly savvy, and fickle, customers is getting harder.

Customer expectations go beyond ease of use; they’re now expecting proactive experiences. Dr. Dieter Haban, CIO of Daimler Trucks North America, offers Daimler Trucks’s Detroit Virtual Technician as a good example. Imagine that you’re on a tight schedule driving an 18 wheeler and your engine light comes on when you’re 100 miles from the nearest service station. What to do? Continue driving and risk a time-consuming breakdown, or call a service vehicle to diagnose the issue, also resulting in lengthy downtime?

Detroit Virtual Technician is a telematics solution that records critical vehicle performance data immediately before, during, and after a fault occurs. It then sends the data to Daimler’s mission control center for quick analysis of the fault codes by its technicians. The technicians can provide the driver and fleet owner immediate feedback, including whether the truck needs immediate service or whether it can continue on its journey. This is the kind of experience customers will expect in the future.

Big data is one of the enablers of proactive customer experiences. Thriving companies will continue to leverage data by using it to address the cracks in company security, worries about data privacy, and the limitations of analytics that became apparent in the first wave of big data.