Paperjam, May 2018

Being Digital is not that easy

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Although businesses have been “digitizing” for many years, the pace and variety and combinatorial power of new disruptive technologies is unlike anything we have experienced previously. We are currently at a stage where businesses have finally understood the urgency of embracing and embedding the digital transformation to some extent to their operations and strategies. However, the challenge is to transform towards a sustainable and meaningful digitalization instead of doing SOMETHING digital.

The goal is to run the business like a digital leader, focusing on today’s needs of the customer and the market while creating a culture that continuously iterates and integrates “digital” as part of the company’s DNA.

At the very core basis, a business, regardless of sector and industry, needs to stop doing meaningless digital experimentation by introducing new technologies, apps or front-end interfaces to yesterday’s business. Understanding what is the customer’s need and desire in today’s rapidly moving environment and markets, is key. This means to become almost obsessed with the customers in order to serve them with the maximum of client satisfaction, enabled by digital and technology. Moreover, to continuously re-imagining products, offerings and processes, leveraging data analytics to get real-time insights into the customer and market behavior and trends, as well as being purpose-centric when involving digital innovations, even if it is a simple landing page to promote certain services or products.

A common mistake is that digital is being treated as something separate within a company. Digital projects being undertaken in pockets across the organization with barely any connected managers serving individual agendas. Instead, businesses should be focusing on infusing digital across the entire organization, rethinking every value chain from top to bottom and challenging business models to create new sources of value, touching every aspect of the business (i.e., people, processes, technology, legal, tax and regulatory) and building ecosystems and partnerships to industrialize innovation across the breadth of the business, as well as moving with operational agility and enforcing a digital and innovation supportive governance and culture within the organization.

Furthermore, being specific in communicating digital solutions and outcomes instead of simply using buzz words or even talking about “digital” will help customers to understand the impact and benefits of new digital services and offerings: focusing on “The future of mobility” or “Outcome-based healthcare” to provide more relatable content.

It is out of the question that digital mega-trends are and will be creating opportunities and threats up and down the value chain. Being extremely focused on the purpose of using certain technologies and digital initiatives will make the difference between a long-term success, short-term gains and wasting investment.