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The Dawn of a New Digital Revolution
Joe Sueper, SVP and Chief Technology Officer, Nu Skin
My journey began in the electrical engineering hardware field during the early 2000s, and I spent the last 20 years working on various technologies. Early on in my career, I was a part of the aerospace design at Ball Aerospace, where I worked on the James Webb Space Telescope. I later joined Dell EMC as an enterprise solution architect and then moved to AWS as a senior consultant. During my tenure at AWS, Nu Skin contacted the cloud service provider for a full cloud migration of their data center.
After completing the migration, I joined Nu Skin to help continue the transformation through operations and architecture leadership. I have recently taken over the role of chief technology officer. My current job is to create a first-of-its-kind growth mindset technology and digital organization to help Nu Skin continue its growth and leadership as a leading beauty and wellness company.
What are some of the leading trends and challenges when it comes to digital transformation that people in the industry face today?
Many of the manual processes that organizations have used no longer meet the expectations or needs of their customers. People need faster service and quick responses. An important lesson is that you should never view digitalization only from the ‘outside-in,’ but also from the ‘inside out.’ You should have a solid strategy and communication plan to embed a digital footprint inside some of today’s manual processes. One of the things we have done at Nu Skin to help automate some of these processes is embedding chatbots and self-service provisions within traditional customer-facing contact center workflows. But as digitalization conveys different ideas to different people, the main challenge is organizational change management.
In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and its after-effects, what are some of the additional trends that are driving digital transformation?
Without a doubt, the pandemic has led to an ecommerce explosion making it more critical than ever to provide your customers with a seamless digital experience. People can order almost anything online, from goods to food delivery, and expect to be able to complete these purchases with ease from the comfort of their phones.
What method should firms use to address common misconceptions to find the right partners, solutions, or service providers? On that note, could you shed some light on the projects that you’ve been involved in, in the recent past?
When looking for a partner, solution, or service provider, you should start with your customers. You first need to understand how your customers interact with your brand, what digital platforms and technologies they prefer, and trends your customers follow. Once you know your customer requirements, you should look for a partner, solution, or service provider that best meets those needs. I call this approach a customer 360 experience as it includes everything from attraction to understanding and nurturing your brand to make sure you can serve your customers wherever they are.
One of the most recent projects I have been involved in at Nu Skin is updating and rebuilding our e-commerce and order administration capabilities on our website and mobile apps. We have implemented different technologies focused on hyper-personalization, self-service, and social commerce skills to better service customers in nearly 50 global markets. What we have now is essentially an “Uberization” of beauty and wellness—similar to rider and driver apps, we have two different mobile applications to support both our consumers and affiliates.
An important lesson regarding digitalization is that you should never view digitalization only from the ‘outside-in,’ but also from the ‘inside out’
What is the advice that you would like to impart to your peers who are looking to venture along the same lines as yourself?
Early on, you should learn the fundamentals of company strategy. Knowing what you want to know today will not get you where you want to go tomorrow. You need to explore and continuously learn, read books, attend meet ups, and trade network relationships. With only a partial seat at the table, you can have a great and impeccable technical background or certain business backgrounds. You must listen and learn to be strategic in your communication and decision-making to become a more trusted advisor to your leadership team and the development engineers who are creating and engineering the application.
Speaking specifically about Nu Skin, I have set up my leadership team and organization with three key tenets—being composable, cross-functional, and secure. The first one is to be composable; it should be cloud-native and operate across clouds, followed by cross-functional that deliver business agility, risk reduction, and process automation; the last tenant in this digitally evolving world is cyber security. These are some of the guiding principles that I have followed.
What are some of the transformations or disruptions that you expect to take place in the industry in the coming years?
We are starting to see a rise in the popularity of low-code and no-code platforms, which will change how IT departments function. With these low-code and no-code platforms emerging, people will no longer need extensive coding knowledge to create apps. Gartner predicts that by 2025, 70 percent of new applications developed by organizations will use low-code or no-code technologies. The flexibility of these low-code platforms will become the cornerstone of the digital revolution for many ecommerce businesses. These platforms are expected to offer provisions for hyper-personalization, self-service, and better business agility in meeting changing consumer demands.