Digital technologies have profoundly changed the ways we do business, buy, work and live. They have even altered society and continue impacting virtually all business functions and industries. It’s partially what digital business is about
Today, digital business mainly is used in a context of digital transformation, disruptive technologies, holistic business optimization and integration/convergence. However, it’s much more than that. It’s also about digital marketing transformation, social business and – as we can never forget the human element that risks being ignored amidst the avalanche of new technologies and the digital fascination – humanization. A key part of it all is information – put at work, which requires a holistic information management approach – and connecting value to create more value, throughout the entire ecosystem.
Social media, mobile, wearables, Internet of Things, real-time — these are just some of the technologies that are disrupting markets. Changes in how people communicate, connect, and discover are carrying incredible implications for businesses and just about anything where people are involved. It’s not so much that technology is part of our everyday life or that technology is relentless in its barrage on humanity.
The real threat and opportunity in technology’s disruption lies in the evolution of customer and employee behavior, values, and expectations. Companies are faced with a quandary as they invest resources and budgets in current technology and business strategies (business as usual) versus that of the unknown in how those investments align, or don’t, with market and behavior shifts.
This is a time of digital Darwinism — an era where technology and society are evolving faster than businesses can naturally adapt. This sets the stage for a new era of leadership, a new generation of business models, charging behind a mantra of “adapt or die.”
Rather than react to change or be disrupted by it, some forward-looking companies are investing in digital transformation to adapt and outperform peers. In November 2012, research-based consultancy Capgemini published a report studying the digital maturity of companies pursuing digital transformation. In its report, “The Digital Advantage: How digital leaders outperform their peers in every industry,” Capgemini found that those companies that are highly vested in both digital intensity and transformation management intensity, aka “The Digirati,” derive more revenue from their physical assets, they’re more profitable, and they also possess high market valuations.
The Next Digital Transformation
Digital transformation brings intentional efforts to adapt to this onslaught of disruptive technologies and how it’s affecting customer and employee behavior. As technology becomes a permanent fixture in everyday life, organizations are forced to update legacy technology strategies and supporting methodologies to better reflect how the real world is evolving. And, the need to do so is becoming increasingly obligatory.
Companies are reverse engineering investments, processes, and systems to better align with how markets are changing. Because it’s focusing on customer behavior, digital transformation is actually in its own way making businesses more human. As such, digital transformation is not specifically about technology, it’s empowered by it. Without an end in mind, digital transformation continually seeks out how to use technology in ways that improve customer experiences and relationships. It also represents an effort that introduces new models for business and, equally, creates a way of staying in business as customers become increasingly digital.
Some key findings include:
- Social, mobile, real-time, and other disruptive technologies are aligning to necessitate bigger changes than initially anticipated.
- Digital transformation is quickly becoming a priority for many leading organizations.
- Mapping and understanding the customer experience is becoming critical in guiding transformation efforts.
- While gaining momentum, digital transformation as a formal process is still in its infancy.
- Digital transformation is driven partly by technology and also by the evolution of customer behavior.
- Three key elements that form the compound upon which digital transformation efforts are built:
- It is most effective with a pointed vision and supportive leadership.
- Optimizing the digital customer experience becomes the initial objective.
- Change materializes through the formation of a digital transformation team.
While early in its evolution, digital transformation represents the next big thing in customer experience and, ultimately, how business is done. Those companies that “get it” and invest more in learning about their digital customers’ behaviors, preferences, and expectations will carry a significant competitive advantage over those that figure it out later (if at all). What separates typical new technology investments from those pursued by companies in the ongoing search to find answers to problems and opportunities presented by the nuances of digital customers.
- What uniquely defines the persona of our customers?
- What is different about their customer journey?
- What are the touchpoints they frequent, how do they use them, and with what devices?
- What are their expectations, what do they value, and how do they define success?
- How are they influenced, and by whom? How and whom do they in turn influence?
In the end, digital transformation is not a fad or a trendy moniker. It represents the future of business through the re-alignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models to more effectively engage digital consumers at every touchpoint in the customer experience lifecycle. It’s bigger than any one area of technology disruption though and that’s the point. Social media, mobile, cloud, et al. are converging into a greater force to push businesses out of comfort zones and into areas where true innovation can manifest.
The roles and objectives of everyday marketing, social media, web, mobile, and customer service, and loyalty, can evolve to meet the needs and expectations of a more connected and discerning digital customer. Additionally, the outcome of even the smallest investments in change brings together typically disparate groups to work in harmony across the entire customer journey. This allows teams to cooperate, or merge into new groups, in uniting the digital journey to improve engagement; deliver a holistic experience; and eliminate friction, gaps, and overlap. Perhaps the most important takeaway is the pure ambition to make businesses relevant in a digital era.
The road to digital transformation is far from easy, but it carries great rewards for businesses and customers alike. It takes a village to bring about change, and it also takes the spark and perseverance of one person to spot important trends and create a sense of urgency around new possibilities.
But make no mistake. Digital transformation efforts grow market opportunities and profits as well as scaling efficiently in the process.