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The secret of a successful business transformation

Carl Haynie Director, Customer Transformation, PwC Switzerland 21 Apr 2021

What makes businesses rise above the rest in the ‘next normal’? What are they doing that other businesses aren’t? Our report ‘The Evolving Customer: Profile of a Winner’ gets to the bottom of the secret of a successful transformation. One thing is clear: technology alone is not enough – business change and committed employees are also needed.

The world is changing – and change brings promising new opportunities. To seize these chances, companies should trust in change, in their employees, and in their own abilities. And to fully exploit the potential of digitalisation, companies need to focus on their relationship with their clients, whose behaviour is also changing.

Unhappy customers drive change

Contrary to popular belief, digital and customer business transformations are rarely driven by a company that wants to reinvent itself to be ahead of the curve. More often, disruption is driven by unhappy customers whose demands for seamless, rewarding and outcome-driven experiences are not being met.

PwC has observed that some businesses master the transformation challenges more successfully than others, and – as many companies know – driving a successful digital transformation is easier said than done. Our research on transformations indicates that the success rate is around 30%. And while successful transformations improve company performance, some businesses struggle to sustain such improvements.

We wanted to know what key factors drive the desired outcome of a transformation and find answers to questions such as: How are the ‘winners’ transforming their organisations? What are they achieving through transformation? And what are the key enablers of their success? To determine what makes a ‘winner in transformation’, between July and November 2020, we interviewed more than 500 executives across Europe, covering all major industry verticals.

With the customer at the centre of their digital transformation, winners connect the dots between sales, supply chain and finance; they integrate the key capabilities needed to produce the services their clients want.

Carl Haynie, Director, Customer Centric Transformation, PwC Switzerland
The five ingredients for success

So, what differentiates the ‘winners’ from the ‘losers’? Our research has identified one golden thread – digital transformation – and five key factors that drive a successful business transformation.

Winners have broken down the silos within their businesses.

To break down the functional and political silos in an organisation, businesses need the right combination of innovation, technology and leadership. Winners spend time investing in enterprise-wide process and data capabilities and enable these through key technology implementation.

Winners are relentlessly focused on the customer experience.

Customer experience was the key pillar of any digital transformation even before the pandemic. The winning companies are relentlessly focused on customer experience since customers’ needs have shifted so dramatically: more exigent, more virtual, more channels.

Winners understand that trust is a key market differentiator.

Customers must know that businesses will keep their best interests in mind and deliver on their promises. To create the customer outcome you want and to get the support you need for success, you must establish mutual trust within your ecosystem.

Winners put strategy and leadership first.

For transformation to succeed, it must be a top leadership priority. Winning organisations have CEOs who sponsor and play an active role in their transformation programmes. Strong leadership supports the cultural changes required to innovate and deliver new solutions.

Winners use technology smartly.

Winners acknowledge that as much as technology supports their vision, it also enables them to differentiate when used well. Technology provides the ability to scale, creates insight and introduces several key capabilities.

Key findings

Companies ‘winning’ in the market are significantly more likely to:

  • have the ability to turn customer experience into more trust and loyalty in their brand
  • place sustainability and purpose at the core of their brand
  • have the ability to create engaging and personalised customer experiences
  • have a 360-degree vision of their customers’ behaviour
  • clearly understand their customer journey
  • dynamically capture real-time customer feedback and update their customer journeys accordingly
  • have implemented technologies such as Cloud, AI, 5G and more
  • know the importance of accessing diverse talent.


Customer Centric Transformation

Customer Centric Transformation involves new strategies, processes and technology – from marketing and sales to pricing, distribution and services. With our full suite of strategy-led, data-driven and technology-supported solutions, you can lift your customer engagement activities to a new level.

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Carl Haynie

Carl Haynie

Director, Customer Transformation, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 79 597 23 32