Leading a multi-million-dollar digital transformation effort at Caterpillar

Situation

With more than 1.2M unique visitors each month, Cat.com is Caterpillar’s flagship website and serves the needs of multiple products, regions, and customers segments across different journey stages.

Based on significant challenges revealed in user research and shared by business stakeholders, the company invested several million dollars into transforming the global marketing and customer experience strategy. The objective was to develop Cat.com into an interactive customer experience that reflects the service levels customers expect in the physical world.

This involved reimagining the website design, content, and functionality of Cat.com. It also involved transforming back-end processes, people, and structure.

Strategic Imperatives

The Cat.com Transformation initiative targeted the following strategic imperatives which would address long-standing customer and marketing challenges.

1: Transform the
Website

DESIGN
Modernize the design. Add more flexibility. Add more interactivity.

CONTENT
Develop richer content.  Organize it better. Address content gaps in the learn/shop stage.

DATA
Implement personalization. Build customer data profiles. Maximize marketing automation efforts.

2: Transform the Technology

DESIGN
Implement new designs without disrupting content, SEO, and other connected sites.

TECHNOLOGY ADDITIONS
Stand up new supporting marketing technologies.

TECHNOLOGY MODIFICATIONS
Implement platform upgrades. Refactor underlying code.

TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATIONS
Evolve downstream systems and connected sites to ensure interoperability.

3: Transform the Business

CONTENT & DIGITAL STRATEGY
Evolve the traditional approach to content development and digital strategy.

ORGANIZATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Reimagine CX organizational structure. Introduce/ modify processes (research, design, content).

EDUCATION / TRAINING
Build new skills for teams (Research, Content strategy, Data).

HALO
Prepare the “halo” of dealers, subsidiaries, and agencies that would be impacted by changes.

Project At-A-Glance

GOALS

Increasing engagement

Increase leads

Increase attributable sales

ScOPE

1M + visitors / mo

200K+ pages

10+ industries

24 langage/locales

30K+ products

TEAM

18+ business stakeholders

10+ content creators

15+ design team members

20+ developers

4+ technology teams

4+ agency partners

Actions

I led this Transformation effort, serving a dual role. On one hand, I played the role of Strategist and Architect, developing the overarching vision and strategy for every aspect of the initiative. On the other hand, I served as a Program Manager, organizing the project, assembling a cross-functional team, and managing budget and resources.

My work included the following key activities.

1: Developing the Cat.com vision and strategy, rooted in research

For several years prior to the Transformation effort, I’d served as a key leader in the marketing and technology space, First, as a strategist for business partners, within a marketing agency.  Second, as a full-time employee responsible for vision and strategy of the Cat.com. Because I had first-hand experience using the site to build digital strategies for multiple industry and product groups, I had “insider insight” into what the challenges where. This helped me lay a strong foundation for the effort because I:

  • Saw the problem from multiple angles
  • Had knowledge of challenges that business teams faced
  • Had knowledge of the technology and its constraints
  • Had a general point of view about possible solutions

Further, I had strong relationships with all parties involved, which was critical because I knew the ultimate strategy needed to account for everyone’s business and marketing needs. 

PRE-WORK

To win executive support and fully understand the problem space, we did quite a bit of pre-work ahead prior to the Transformation project’s commencement. To support this, I worked to:

  • Develop the business case, which included a customer narrative and visualizations
  • Summarize details about challenges revealed in early research
  • Outline business, technology, organizational risks

PRE-STRATEGY

With the pre-work as a foundation, I designed the “shape of the strategy” simplifying our strategic approach into the aforementioned strategic imperatives. By providing this framework early, all parties involved had a shared understanding of the problem we were tackling and what the potential solution might look like.

2: Leading the Cat.com Transformation program, communicating vision and progress across the enterprise

In this capacity, I worked independently and/or with key team members to:

1
Deliver a project plan and roadmap, which included a portfolio of 40+ independent projects.

2
Organize and lead a cross-functional, cross-enterprise team of 50+ designers, researchers, strategists, technologists, analysts, and SMEs.

3
Champion the com Transformation vision across multiple sponsors and stakeholders globally, creating alignment and generating support for the effort.

4
Provide all parties with regular updates about progress, challenges, and risks.

5
Allocate and manage the multi-million-dollar program budget.

6
Select suppliers, negotiated SOWs and managed relationships.

3: Providing strategic guidance and direction across discovery, design, and development activities.

DISCOVERY / RESEARCH

While my early work provided a foundation for understanding user, business, and dealer needs, it was not nearly enough.  To further inform our approach, we conducted global research, which validated initial assumptions and provided more clarity about problems and opportunities.

Research Sources, Methods, and Deliverables ->
Beyond the Transformation ->

STRATEGY / DESIGN

After the initial research stage, we worked to translate research into strategy into design. In some cases, this involved minor or major modifications to existing aspects of the site, removing what no longer worked and replacing with what did.  In other cases, this involved developing new features and functionality to address opportunities that were revealed in the research.

Strategy Deliverables ->
Strategic Considerations ->
Beyond the Transformation ->

DEVELOPMENT

Development activities were implemented in an incremental manner, using the team’s pre-established agile process.

In general, the technical work could be divided into 3 categories:

  • Site enhancements

  • Technology refactoring

  • New technology implementation

Strategic Considerations ->
Beyond the Transformation ->

Results

Delivered website enhancements. Built new digital capabilities.

My work has not only driven customer facing evolutions to the company’s digital experiences, but also building digital competencies and capabilities across the enterprise.

Results-to-date include:

  • Refreshed design and functionality for critical areas of site
  • Healthier technology stack with refactored code and new supporting technologies.
  • Increased design-to-development velocity
  • Improved trust, enthusiasm, and excitement key business units
  • Modern design operational process and tools which enable teams apply design thinking principles more effectively
  • Better positioned to address the competitive pressures that we face in markets around the globe

This body of work created fertile ground for the next generation of the program, which is where its full impact will be realized.

SITUATION

This is the situation.

ACTION

This is the action.

RESULTS

And here is the result.

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