Many see a Harley-Davidson motorcycle as the symbol of a mid-life crisis, but for the past five years, the Motor Company has been going through its own identity crisis. From releasing the LiveWire to introducing the Pan America and the Bronx to the recent Rewire scale back plan, messaging from the brand has been mixed to say the least. Despite refocusing on cruisers and baggers, the company recently created a Chief Digital Officer position to beef up its online presence.
Harley hired former Bose Corp. executive Jagdish Krishnan to helm the initiative. Drawing from his 20 years of digital leadership at Bose, Deloitte & Touche, and Patni Computer Systems, Krishnan will prioritize building relationships with existing and new customers through the company’s digital platforms. The brand is also focused on developing its e-commerce and direct-to-consumer capabilities by further digitizing dealers. Krishnan’s digital strategy will heavily lean into customer experience not only online but also in-store.
“Harley-Davidson is all about experiences, and an enhanced digital experience is absolutely critical for us to make our GIS and digital capabilities more customer-centric,” said Krishnan’s new boss, Harley-Davidson president and CEO Jochen Zeitz. "We will take a completely different approach to applying digital technology across the company to fundamentally change how we operate and create value.”
While retro-styled cruisers and advanced technology seem antithetical, COVID-19 is only accelerating worldwide digitization. With the company recording reduced sales figures in Q2 and preparing for layoffs at the end of the calendar year, harnessing the internet as a retail tool will become more and more important.
"We need to be a high-performing team with cutting edge leadership to move us forward,” noted Zeitz. “Jagdish is exactly the right leader, and he will ensure we connect with our customers at all touch-points.”