Building the digital future: Co-creating customer value in a digital world

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The future is digital, and by listening to customers and remaining open to new ideas, business can thrive there.

Jennifer Vessels
Next Step—Silicon Valley & Oslo, Norway

Change is everywhere. With the range of offerings available at a consumer’s fingertips via a smart phone, digitalization is driving “the greatest impact on society since the movement from a farming age to the industrial age,” according to the Harvard Business Review and the International Data Corporation (IDC).

Norway, known for high technical competence, early adoption, and efficiency, is recognized by the Digital Economy and Society Index as a leader in this new world of digitalization. This is primarily through the use of technology to streamline operations. However, the real benefit of digitalization to businesses is the use of digital approaches to reach new markets, increase revenue, and enhance customer experience.

Today’s buyers (both consumer and corporate) require convenience, ease of access, pay-as-you-go options, and environmentally friendly choices not only from B2C providers such as Amazon and AirBnB but also from traditional corporations such as GE, Otis Elevator, and Johnson Controls, companies that are now using digital services to reach to new market segments, delight their B2B customers, and create new revenue streams.

For many business leaders, the first question is “How can I get started?” As with all change, a commitment and vision for long-term change along with defining and successfully delivering initial pilot projects pays off. Since customers are also affected by the digital trends, including them in your exploration of new digital services can be valuable to the customer and help your planning process.

Many B2B companies leading in digitalization today are utilizing a value co-creation process including executives from their customers in open dialogues about the future. Digital co-creation workshops exploring trends and future needs of the customers’ customers are used to identify new opportunities for digital offerings.

By building the digital future with customers, companies develop greater loyalty while defining initial and future digital offerings to create new revenues and higher level of customer satisfaction.

This customer-first approach to digitalization includes:

1. Deep understanding of the current needs and future trends and directions of customers within their markets.

2. Clear segmentation and understanding of the characteristics and differences between the segments (by industry, age, location, etc.) of each market served today and in the future.

3. Openness to new directions, collaboration, and services defined or built jointly with customers.

4. Facilitation of co-creation discussions and workshops to jointly define new digital services.

5. Commitment to change long term through initial projects delivering real customer value.

In late 2015, IDC predicted that three of the top 20 companies in all industries would be overtaken by new competition in the market by 2018. By starting now with open dialogue with your customers, your company can maximize your opportunity to succeed now into a successful future.

This article was provided to The Norwegian American by Jennifer Vessels, CEO of Next Step, Silicon Valley/Oslo based leaders in digitalization for Adobe, Avinor, Nevion, Posti, ShoreTel and more. She can be reached at

This article originally appeared in the June 30, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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The Norwegian American

The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.