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The 4 Personalities of Digital Transformation—and How to Cater to Them

Digital disruption is upon us and no company can ignore it if they want to survive. Across every industry, customers are demanding greater mobility with quick and easy access to information. Most of all, they demand a satisfying, efficient user experience at every interaction.

According to analyst firm International Data Corporation (IDC), worldwide spending on digital transformation technologies (DX) surpassed $1.1 trillion in 2017, an increase of 17.8 percent over 2016. IDC expects DX spending to maintain its torrid pace for the rest of the decade, achieving a compound annual growth rate of 17.9 percent until it reaches $2.1 trillion in 2020.

Despite the extensive expenditure to create powerful apps and secure, friendly websites, DX adoption rates are not taking off at the same rate. For example, a study by Avoka, whose cloud-based platform, Avoka Transact, enables financial institutions to come to market rapidly, concluded that most banks failed to capitalize on their investments in digital marketing and channels, suffering a 70 to 90 percent abandonment rate whenever customers attempted a simple act like opening an online account, with similar stories found in insurance, government, telecom, and more.

What is holding up the obviously beneficial trend toward digital transformation? Why aren’t people racing toward the promised nirvana of everything being just a screen tap away?

To make their digital offering more attractive, companies need to look at their customers not as a homogenous body anxiously waiting to be digitally transformed, but as four distinct groups, each requiring their own unique approach. Let’s look at the four personalities of digital transformation, starting with the highest level of technology proficiency. For simplicity sake, we’ve named them tech-obsessed, tech-active, tech-aware, and tech-reluctant.


Highly technically oriented people tend to be classic early adopters. Far from reticence to engage with the unknown, these people embrace the latest and the greatest. They download any app they think is cool, tinker with it, and explore its nooks and crannies.

For these digital users, it’s all about instant gratification. They fatigue quickly, ceasing their use of apps that do not offer constant stimulation. For that reason, tech-obsessed people seldom become long-term loyal customers. If the newly released version of your competitor’s app is a bit more exciting than yours, you are liable to lose this customer.

If you want a constant stream of the tech-obsessed to visit you via your digital services, you had better be prepared to keep offering new and interesting content and features.


Typically in their mid-30s to early 50s, tech-active people try to do everything online—shopping for groceries, buying airplane tickets, and making a doctor’s appointment. These people haven’t walked into a bank branch in years. They consider it undignified to actually speak with a human customer service agent, preferring to do it all via mobile app, website, or chat, if necessary.

If you want to attract the tech-active demographic, make sure their user experience (UX) is always efficient and that they can complete their transactions digitally from start to finish.


People above 50 years of age tend to fall in the tech-aware category. Having owned PCs for decades (they may even have been tech-obsessed themselves 20 years ago), these people are major digital users. They come equipped with smartphones and spend time nurturing their Facebook account.

Tech-aware people understand and like technology, but not for its own sake. They measure it by its utility, efficiency, and effectiveness. If a digital service is easy to use, saving them time and money, they’ll go for it, but not just because it’s digital. They are “hybrids” who still enjoy the “human touch” when it comes to their financial portfolios and customer service, but for other things, digital is just as good.

To attract and keep the tech-aware, you need to establish real value in the digital interaction. Once you get them used to your website or mobile app, they will remain loyal, using that same channel for years.


People of all ages, especially those not overly familiar with technology, are reluctant to change from the tried-and-true ways of the past. They don’t understand technology or simply don’t trust it. “What’s wrong with using a phone to call a real person?” they might ask.

If they use a digital channel at all, it is often in a very limited fashion. For example, your company website might be useful for information, but when they want to talk to you, they want human interaction first and foremost. They are likely to use the website for nothing more than to find the call center phone number.

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