How To Thrive In The Digital Transformation Age

How To Thrive In The Digital Transformation Age

May 27, 2021

 

No doubt, we are deeply embedded in the age of digital transformation.

Change is moving fast. Choosing not to adapt, to stay in a perpetual status quo leaves room for your competition to step in and deliver exactly what your customers want, the way they want it. Think back to a time when Blockbuster ruled every corner in North America. The video rental behemoth failed to foresee the changing industry landscape and ultimately failed to embrace digital transformation in time to reclaim market dominance.

In our march towards a more progressively digital world, companies are finding new ways to do what they do, only better.

It also is changing the competitive landscape, creating unique opportunities for differentiation and industry disruption. Let’s take Peloton as an example. The exercise equipment company created a digital streaming service to accompany its stationary bicycles and treadmills to provide home-based exercise classes. In doing so, they created their own category, the connected fitness market, bring at-home convenience to a whole new market.

 

By mapping the end-to-end customer journey, Peloton is tracking the customer throughout the entire workout experience, personalizing each step of the way. The takeaway: to know what the customer really needs and offer personalized solutions accordingly – Distopia Digest

 

And guess what? The pandemic-induced, stay-at-home mandate brought on tremendous growth for both their equipment and membership subscriptions, at a time when gyms and studios were temporarily closured.

But technology alone does not propel competitive differentiation. In fact, it’s only through the development of an all-encompassing digital transformation strategy that companies such as Peloton were able to find new ways to differentiate and dominate their category.

And though transformation can take on vastly different avenues depending on the industry and the customer being served, companies all strive to solve unique challenges using digital technology – that ultimately benefit both the company and the customer.

 

70% of companies have a digital transformation strategy in place or are working on one – ZDNet

 

 

There’s more to digital transformation than bettering the competition

Yes, it’s vital that you incorporate digital transformation within your organization – at all levels – so that you continue to respond to market demand, adapt with new technological trends and continue to thrive (not just survive). But there is so much more.

When part of a global innovation strategy, digital transformation delivers compounding benefits that propel your business activities, well into the future.

Let’s take a look at some:

 

CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT AT EVERY TOUCHPOINT

–  From digitizing customer interactions through chatbots, voicebots and the use of social media, to adopting advanced technologies that break internal silos and improve data gathering, a good portion of digital transformations are largely devoted to enhancing customer engagement.

–  An SAP Digital Transformation Executive Study revealed that 92% of business leaders have mature digital transformation strategies and processes already in place to improve the customer experience because they understand the innate value in continuously improving the customer experience.

–  Companies that continuously engage their customer base and find new ways to support their needs develop a loyal following that block the competition.

 

AGILITY AT THE BUSINESS AND PEOPLE LEVEL

–  Remember the Blockbuster warning? Digital forces will disrupt all industries at some point – and some sooner than others! How quickly you can adapt and respond in an agile manner will determine whether you take the Blockbuster or the Netflix approach to sustainability.

–  Anticipating and staying ahead of disruptions means staying clearly ahead of your competition with a real and lasting competitive advantage.

–  Digital transformation also takes on a more intimate and immediate significance allowing employees to become more autonomous and agile in their daily actions, significantly enhancing their decision-making.

 

BREAK SILOS, BUILD COMMUNITIES

–  Often, we forget that digital transformation is about people – not just technologies. We implement digital tools as a way to unite remote and in-office employees, departments and teams in any location across the world, enabling them to effortlessly collaborate and work together.

–  Look no further than the massive and immediate adoption of Zoom, Microsoft Teams and other digital communication vehicles over the past year. Companies effortlessly moved to remote capabilities while continuing to build and strengthen internal communities.

 

DATA AND AUTOMATION

–  In the past, automation was the number one reason most companies, especially in the manufacturing sector, adopted digital transformation. Process automation and even more recently, robotic process automation, have allowed companies to digitally automate repetitive functions while moving human capital to more value and skill-based tasks.

–  As we know, data has become the hot new commodity across all industries. Through digital transformation, gathering, analyzing and dispersing data have become almost instantaneous. With greater analytics, companies have a much better understanding of their customers, and can anticipate and predict behaviour in an effort to deliver greater customer service.

 

BE READY TO EMBRACE OPPORTUNITIES

–  The ability to actively embrace new opportunities, or better yet, to create opportunities is key to sustaining growth in a global digital economy.

–  Digital transformation allows you to be ready to take on challenges that are reshaping the competitive landscape. Think back to our Peloton example. Before the pandemic, it had a loyal niche market following. After the pandemic? Sales across the board exploded widening their demographics by offering trials and pandemic-related deals to entice at-home users. They were ready to cease the opportunity, whereas in-person gyms and studios had to transition to online classes to maintain their livelihoods. Many of these gyms (those that survived) will likely continue to offer in-house and on-line memberships.

 

RESILIENCE AGAINST THE UNEXPECTED

–  Agility is great, but resilience ensures that you can bounce back and recover from almost any unpredictable situation. Digital transformation helps organizations quickly adapt and respond to unexpected occurrences and quickly evolving market fluctuations.

–  As made evident over the past year, companies with mature digital capabilities were less impacted by the pandemic and were able to scale to meet increasing/decreasing demand amid global disruptions.

–  A well designed digital transformation strategy will transport your organization from what is possible today, into new and exciting capabilities for tomorrow, and into the future.

 

Digital transformation must incorporate institutional IT, so that technologists must provide and demonstrate, business value with every technology innovation – Harvard Business Review

 

The waiting game is over

Businesses across all industries are innovating and transforming at an agile and accelerated rate. Thanks to a little thing called Covid-19, every organization regardless of technical prowess had no choice but to immediately adopt digital technologies, forever transforming the way businesses operate and, how and where consumers, consume.

Companies who embrace digital transformation during “peaceful times” will not only survive, but thrive when faced with unprecedented external forces, uncertainty and perpetual change. Case in point, online marketplaces, such as Etsy and Amazon experienced unsurmountable growth while brick-and-mortar stores struggled to stay alive.

 

Organizations will need to innovate at speed, keep pace with technological and industry change, and cultivate greater resilience – Deloitte

 

Though some of these actions were temporarily enacted to maintain remote operations and manage escalated consumer online demand, innovation teams worked on long-term strategies and plans to permanently cement these new processes.

A McKinsey Global Survey of executives, confirms that funding for digital initiatives in 2020 increased more than any other aspect of their business. Digital transformation is an executive level top priority, for both business-to-business and business-to-consumer organizations.

Basically, the digital evolution that should have transpired over a number of years with several iterations, was undertaken all at once within the past year. It was a do or die moment, and companies accelerated their adoption pace, embracing strategies, technologies and processes that many thought were not possible, or likely years away.

 

 

Digital first, at all times

Innovative, progressive companies have long understood the value of a digital transformation strategy to lead their organization’s growth objectives. These companies were able to easily transition through the messy waters to emerge with a loyal fanbase, more profitable than ever before. Everyone else, had to quickly paddle to stay afloat.

 

And as we slowly transition back to more stable times, will these same companies forget the lessons learned or will they come to understand that the digital transformation journey has just begun?

 

If the pandemic was a wake-up call, then gone are the days of relying on your company’s IT department to predict and enact digital reform. No longer a one-time project or even a series of projects, digital transformation deserves its rightful seat at the executive table steering company direction. With inevitable market uncertainties, industry disruptors and ever-changing technological improvements, companies must think, act and continuously evolve with agility to meet customer demand.

It is a never-ending process with a never-ending set of goals.

Companies should think of it as a series of milestones interweaving strategies that make growth, innovation and customer engagement eternally possible. By putting digital first, you can commit to using technology as a means to align your strategic goals and secure your prosperous future.

 

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