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The power of trust when transforming a privately owned business

Navigating relationships is as important as wrangling tech, as Deloitte Private’s consulting leader explains

Leading organisations have been navigating both their business and customers through the shock of COVID-19 and this has had implications for both physical and digital engagement.

“Businesses have been forced to find other ways of operating and some have had to pivot completely,” says Vanessa Matthijssen, Deloitte Private Asia Pacific Consulting Leader. “The pandemic has accelerated the shift to digital; it’s brought the future forward by a couple of years.” This new COVID-19 world of uncertainty and disruption has amplified the importance of trust. Can I trust you to deliver on your promise and to look after my health, my safety, my money and my data?”

Matthijssen says she is seeing increased investment in digital commerce, from retail clients with fewer in-store customers and restaurants delivering at-home meals. Trust is a crucial element. “If you don’t deliver in the first few transactions, people will stop buying from you.”

But other sectors, too, are clamouring for attention. Matthijssen’s clients include manufacturers embracing robotics to adhere to social distancing requirements, healthcare providers switching to telehealth and agri-businesses automating harvest to cope with the decline in backpackers. Her teams are also helping companies move to the cloud and strengthen their cybersecurity. “Data security and privacy are crucial for trust,” she says.

Digital transformation can hold challenges for private and family businesses. “Decision-making can be tricky; there may be challenging family dynamics or many individuals to convince, like farmers in a cooperation,” says Matthijssen.

However there are advantages, too. “Privately-owned businesses have the opportunity to really think long-term; they are not pushed on short-term result reporting. And many have strong balance sheets.”

Those that get their digital transformation right will not only build resilience in their business, they will strengthen relationships and trust with employees, customers and other stakeholders. “Family-owned businesses often have built a culture based on personal commitments to their employees and customers” Matthijssen says. “Trust has a special meaning for them.”

Increased trust also creates economic value, with research showing that trusted companies outperform their peers. “Protecting and strengthening trust should be a strategic imperative for all businesses – especially now.”

Cloud convenience at 7-Eleven

Before convenience store chain 7-Eleven Australia embarked on a major digital transformation, the board and leadership team studied the latest innovations to understand what was possible. “This was a key part of our preparation; that collective learning was critical,” says CEO Angus McKay, adding that 7-Eleven’s private owners, the Withers and Barlow families, have fully supported the company’s ambitious digital vision which was developed with support from Deloitte Private.

The first stage of the transformation was to build strong foundations. The company migrated all systems to cloud infrastructure, transformed its supply chain technology, built a new platform for customer interfacing systems and rebuilt its website and app.

McKay says the changes have improved network reliability, performance and efficiency. “Overall, we now have the more scalable, secure and modern infrastructure to more effectively serve the needs of our customers. And freeing up our teams through technology will enable us to offer personalised, value-added experiences in-store.”

Article published in Qantas magazine, October 2020

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