Every business enterprise, spanning all industries and geographies, is ready in some way to jump on the digital bandwagon. Most are being dragged into this so-called digital era by their customers in an effort to stay relevant and, at the very least, retain market share.
But do you know what it means to be digital? And why do you need to be digital, or as many like to put it, 'so what'?
A whole industry has spawned to offer infrastructure and technology solutions, but without understanding the 'so what', you're in danger of pouring time, effort, and money into a white elephant.
So before starting your 'digital transformation' or 'digitisation' initiative, begin by reflecting on the two questions in the context of your business. Here are some thoughts to help with that....
What does it mean to be digital?
There's so much change happening in the world today across society, technology, and the economy. This change is driving an evolution in consumer behaviour, and can broadly be seen to occur within four trends.
- mobile. The number of mobile devices is rapidly multiplying, creating the need for universal connectivity. We are all living the mobile revolution daily through our smartphones and tablets and wearables that have become indispensable companions of our private and professional lives.
- information. Users are changing from consumers to creators. Big data technologies are enabling new real time analytical tools, creating value from the proliferation of data. Enterprises are deploying their strategies around the exploitation of data delivering targeted interactions with their customers.
- cloud. Cloud computing meets the growing need for agility in the use of IT, whether that's in the consumer or enterprise space. Cloud encompasses different realities from infrastructure sharing to applications delivered as a service, enabling flexible operational and economic models.
- social. Social media is offering new ways for businesses and their customers to interact, blurring the boundaries between personal and business, and ultimately making the enterprise more open.
Going digital, or undertaking a digital transformation journey, means that your business is making a conscious decision to respond to one or more of these four trends, and weave them into the DNA of how you conduct business.
Why are you going digital? 'So what'?
The second part of the equation is determining the 'so what'; that is, the reason you are undertaking a digital transformation journey. It has to be more than "because everyone is doing it" or "because we have to". Each business is different, but there are a couple of overarching goals that apply to most.
- Improve customer experience and personalisation. Your customers are more informed, more connected, insistent on being treated as individuals, and have the upper hand in how and when they interact with your business. You need to maintain share of mind to maintain share of wallet. Demographics are becoming less relevant; the challenge is to move from marketing to groups of many to marketing to groups of 1. The challenge is to create meaningful relationship with your customers.
- Create 'oxygen' for growth through operational efficiencies. This theme hasn't changed for decades, but we now have more options in the toolkit. But it must fundamentally be about growth; increasing productivity or taking out cost in of itself is no longer enough. If you invest any efficiencies wisely (perhaps into more digital initiatives), you're positioning your business to take advantage of the emerging trends and importantly defend yourself against both your traditional competitors and new market entrants.
This is where your intimate understanding of your business comes into play. Making a decision to go digital and respond to one or more of the four trends must necessarily deliver you at least one of the above points.
Ready to go 'digital'?
If you combine your answers from parts 1 and 2, you're on your way in defining your vision and objectives for undertaking a digital transformation. For example:
- I'm going to leverage the data on the buying behaviours of my customers to develop targeted, individual campaigns that will be pushed out to them on our app or to their social media feeds. (mobile, information, social + improve customer experience and personalisation).
- I'm moving as much of my IT infrastructure and business applications as I can to specialist providers, so I can free up my people to focus on business grow and new opportunities, instead of infrastructure. (cloud + create 'oxygen' for growth through operational efficiencies).
Of course, this is only the beginning. There'll be plenty of work after this to really define each initiative and articulate what success looks like. Make sure to leverage your trusted partner and advisor ecosystem in your journey; or, if you have to, force them to go on the journey with you.
You'll be one step ahead of many enterprises who are going digital but are not able to put their finger on what that means and, more importantly, you'll be able to answer 'so what?'
Post script - The danger question or cliff hanger…..
Considering the advancement of the market (and let’s face it some of your competitors) how do you advance into Digital Transformation in an accelerated fashion without falling victim to then needing to adopt the next mega-trend to disrupt the market?
Head of Solutions
Paul looks to combine technical expertise with the business acumen and strategic focus needed to ensure that IT investments are driven by business imperatives and offer the scalability, functionality, security and the outcome needed to meet short and long-term business objectives.