Different Facets Of Digital Transformation
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Different Facets Of Digital Transformation

Joe Brannon, Global Director of Digital Technology at Helen of Troy
Joe Brannon, Global Director of Digital Technology at Helen of Troy

Joe Brannon, Global Director of Digital Technology at Helen of Troy

Joe Brannon is the global director of digital technology at Helen of Troy. Within his two and half decades of association with digital transformation, he has pioneered numerous groundbreaking digital developments and is currently a top-performing E-Commerce digital transformation and growth leader. At Helen of Troy, he leads the strategy, implementation, and performance of a digital technology portfolio of programs, aiming to drive the enterprise to become a digital-first company.

Could you take us through your journey in the digital transformation space?

I started my career with a startup, where I was entitled to build digital technologies that could digitize space planning. Collaborating with a group of MIT students, I developed a technology that digitized the entire contract process; it also won us the Smithsonian Technology Award. Our solution combined 3D visualization and Autocad's detailed designs in a sales environment to make the sales process quicker—which was once an elongated, time-consuming, and hectic. And for the next eight years, the technology was developed further to connect customers' demands directly to the manufacturers on an industry-wide scale. Around this phase, I also developed a deep understanding of how digitalization benefits customer experience.

In the upcoming years, I moved to a consulting company, where I built web-enabled interactive custom solutions for the government. For example, our technology helped a submarine or aircraft mechanic willing to repair the hydraulics to dodge the complexities of knowing about the whole vehicular system. Using our interactive interface with digitized schematic drawings, their job became a lot easier and quicker.

My first omnichannel implementation was at Orange County, California, when I joined Oakley. There, we put in a global platform that was both B2B and B2C. The Point of Sale (POS) systems were retrofitted to include them into eCommerce and D2C layers, and such developments raised Oakley's profit from 80 to 300 million in about four years. Continuing with developments in the Omnichannel space, in the next years, I helped Billabong—a clothing retail company—with a complete transformation from the retail perspective using online shopping that merged their physical and digital channels. The technology enabled us to see users' online browsing, their wish list, and purchase histories, helping us suggest product recommendations at every POS. Moreover, to better engage the customer, providing personalized promotion codes for discounts was also possible.

Moving ahead, I led a real-estate development firm named Irvine Company. Being a big company, they were having trouble prioritizing project intake. Within a couple of years, I was able to develop a technology that could deliver portfolios for road-mapping projects and prioritize them for optimum business development. I have also been associated with companies like Bose, where digital transformations for headless commerce, API-driven commerce, composable commerce, traditional commerce were some of my working areas.

During my years on the consultancy side, I witnessed the advent of native vertical brands, which were D2C out-of-the-box. One such was Starbucks, for whom I developed the Starbucks Rewards loyalty program—that has been emulated a lot over the years. And from an eCommerce perspective, I also built a mobile app for the company.

  ​Due to the immense developments in the customer experience management space, B2B customers are also searching for buying experiences like any D2C customer 

In your experience, what will be some of the major developments in the digital transformation space in upcoming years?

Due to the immense developments in the customer experience management space, B2B customers are also searching for buying experiences like any D2C customer. As a result, digitalization is the sole option to keep pace with ever-evolving buyer behavior. To do so, businesses will have to pull out themselves from complex and rigid ERP architecture and digitalize every business layer. This will make the process of procuring, packaging, shipping, and managing financial aspects fluid and agile.

The advent of API-driven and microservices-driven commerce will be another significant trend. There will be systems encompassing all purchase touchpoints for customers—be it desktop, mobile, Kiosk, or others. However, as all these touchpoints have different buyer experiences, the system must be able to provide that too. Such requirements emphasize a headless approach, where the front and back end of commerce will get separated to provide the best customer experiences. It must then be combined with microservices to deliver varied experiences across all selling points. Moreover, to add more value to the headless microservices system, I have plans to develop a safe, agile, and project management approach, where mini product teams will continuously track customers' utmost needs across every touchpoint. This will help businesses to transform quickly with the changing needs of buyers.

To benefit operational convenience and swiftness, the omnichannel approach will also flourish within the supply-chain space, where all inventories are going to be merged to form a mega inventory. Such will assist any business from across the globe to procure, pack, and ship any product hassle-free.

What will be your advice to upcoming professionals in the digital transformation space?

In order to foster a digital transformation, upcoming professionals must first leverage their organizational culture. Also, they must have a swift and savvy approach along with an executive influence to push the change easily. To get the best results, having a thorough knowledge of their organization’s culture is a must. Following this, they can use positive pieces in their culture to overcome any challenge during the transformation.

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