© Pladis
© Pladis

Chief Digital Officer at confectionery maker Pladis, Anthoula Madden, believes that culture and consumer experience should be at the forefront of digital transformation.

Speaking on the CIO UK podcast at the Gartner Symposium and ITxpo in Barcelona after delivering a presentation about the digital initiatives at the manufacturer behind megabrands McVitie's, Jacob's crackers, Carr's water biscuits, Godiva chocolates and more, Madden explained that defining what digital transformation is and what it means for the business is crucial.

"We distilled it down and what it means for us is that it is a truly consumer-concentric business model and therefore, how do you realign the capabilities of the business, realign your operating and business model, the KPIs and even the culture of the business to be truly consumer-centric," she said.

Madden explained the importance of putting consumer experience at the core, rather than focusing on transforming the product. She emphasised that the process is a challenging one, but following the right structure will enable businesses to deliver transformation effectively.

"Depending on the market, the product and channel mean being able to have the agility embedded within the business model," she said. "The other thing is that we're no longer talking about one business model, we're actually talking about several business models."

This includes channels ranging from social media to ecommerce all of which should be embedded to focus on delivering the best consumer experience.

Highlighting the importance of culture, Madden said that working to integrate all channels and capabilities would help in delivering the best consumer experience for the end user.

"It's actually a big challenge trying to bring that all together, so it is very much a work in progress but it's a journey we're on and I think, a number of businesses are on too," she said.

Madden claims that capabilities such as data analytics and algorithmic features still remain in their infancy, and therefore raise challenges when businesses try to scale.

"It does take some time because it's the engagement of the consumers, adapting your message, adapting your brand and being able to take the insight to how you develop products and experiences. The whole relevance thing is the biggest challenge for me," she said.

For Pladis, the global confectionery firm that makes McVities biscuits, lessons have been learned from big names in the technology industry in finding a way to tackle such challenges.

"We learned a lot from Amazon in terms of how they get this culture of working backward, they truly start from the consumer and work backward and really challenge the value proposition. For me, that's fundamental," Madden added.

Pladis has already worked towards making the consumer experience seamless and in doing so has begun adopting social media interaction in the workplace as a way to create communities and share knowledge.