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Jason Bloomberg

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LA Fitness, ‘Hotel California’ and the fallacy of digital transformation

Digital transformation is about more than technology — it’s about delighting your customer during every stage of their journey with you. Even when they leave.

It felt like I was living the lyrics of one of my all-time favorite songs.

As I sat there staring at the four rows of idle ‘sales counselors’ at LA Fitness, the words from “Hotel California” by the Eagles rang in my head:

‘Relax’ said the night man,

We are programmed to receive.

You can check out any time you like,

But you can never leave!’

When we signed up with LA Fitness just a few months earlier, we knew that it would be for only a short time. We were about to move to New York but didn’t want to wait any longer to begin ‘getting fit.’ So, knowing that we would lose our initiation fee and that we would need to give a thirty-day notice to cancel, we signed up anyway.

As an industry analyst, author and frequent speaker on all things related to digital transformation, I was pleasantly surprised by the company’s completely-on-line sign-up process (I didn’t need to talk to a sales counselor!) and digitally-enabled customer engagement. We could view class schedules, book time with a trainer, and do almost everything online or on our phones. They even had an Apple Watch app so that I could sign-in without bringing either a key tag or my phone to the gym!

It was fantastic — or so I thought.

It was only as the sales manager explained, however, that neither she nor any of the idle counselors could help me, and that only the manager could cancel our membership (and, of course, she was gone for the day), that I realized just how badly LA Fitness had missed the mark with their digital transformation initiative.

And it made me wonder how many other enterprise leaders were making the same mistake.

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Jason Bloomberg is a leading IT industry analyst, Forbes contributor, keynote speaker, and globally recognized expert on multiple disruptive trends in enterprise technology and digital transformation. He is ranked #5 on Onalytica’s list of top Digital Transformation influencers for 2018 and #15 on Jax’s list of top DevOps influencers for 2017, the only person to appear on both lists.

As founder and president of Agile Digital Transformation analyst firm Intellyx, he advises, writes, and speaks on a diverse set of topics, including digital transformation, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, devops, big data/analytics, cybersecurity, blockchain/bitcoin/cryptocurrency, no-code/low-code platforms and tools, organizational transformation, internet of things, enterprise architecture, SD-WAN/SDX, mainframes, hybrid IT, and legacy transformation, among other topics.

Mr. Bloomberg’s articles in Forbes are often viewed by more than 100,000 readers. During his career, he has published over 1,200 articles (over 200 for Forbes alone), spoken at over 400 conferences and webinars, and he has been quoted in the press and blogosphere over 2,000 times.

Mr. Bloomberg is the author or coauthor of four books: The Agile Architecture Revolution (Wiley, 2013), Service Orient or Be Doomed! How Service Orientation Will Change Your Business (Wiley, 2006), XML and Web Services Unleashed (SAMS Publishing, 2002), and Web Page Scripting Techniques (Hayden Books, 1996). His next book, Agile Digital Transformation, is due within the next year.

At SOA-focused industry analyst firm ZapThink from 2001 to 2013, Mr. Bloomberg created and delivered the Licensed ZapThink Architect (LZA) Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) course and associated credential, certifying over 1,700 professionals worldwide. He is one of the original Managing Partners of ZapThink LLC, which was acquired by Dovel Technologies in 2011.

Prior to ZapThink, Mr. Bloomberg built a diverse background in eBusiness technology management and industry analysis, including serving as a senior analyst in IDC’s eBusiness Advisory group, as well as holding eBusiness management positions at USWeb/CKS (later marchFIRST) and WaveBend Solutions (now Hitachi Consulting), and several software and web development positions.