Digital transformation (DT) is defined as the modification of business activities, procedures, capabilities and models to take advantage of the changes and opportunities presented by new digital technologies, as well as the impact they have on society, while always thinking about current and future trends. Why is this so important to businesses everywhere? Because DT is fundamentally changing the way we live, work and buy.
The first step to a complete transformation is to develop a clear strategy. According to The Digital Business Transformation Playbook For 2017, only 27% of today’s businesses have a coherent digital strategy that sets out how the firm will create customer value as a digital business.
But what should you consider when developing your strategy? First, you need to look past your competitors. This is not ‘keeping up with the Jones’, this is surpassing them. The reason why many companies are not transforming is fear – fear that a competitor will go to market first or that a disruptor will leave them in the dust.
A 2016 study conducted by Capgemini Consulting found that the average lifespan of S&P 500 companies has declined from 61 years in 1958 to about 20 years in 2016, indicating that disruption, rather than longevity, is the new norm.
Next, survey your clients and customers to see what they are looking for in a supplier. Otherwise, you’re just shooting in the dark and hoping to hit something.
By conducting research, you will definitively know things, such as how they prefer to research companies with which to do business, how they pay their invoices, and reach out to customer support.
Furthermore, you need to make sure you get executive buy in. Companies who outsource their digital strategy sometimes have trouble implementing the plan and come up against roadblocks in key areas. Finding the right balance of approach and belief can make all the difference.
Finally, you need to make sure your company culture can withstand the new innovations. Peter Drucker, the renowned management expert, famously said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” By this he means that even the most effective digital transformation strategy with complete support from executives will fall flat without the right culture to sustain it.
Ultimately, the focus must always remain on customers and what they want. If they want to pay from paper invoices instead of online, you need to make sure you provide that option.
If they want to chat online with customer support and not pick up the phone, let them. If they want their refrigerator to create the shopping list for the week, allow them to do that. As Steve Jobs said, “Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.”
This article was originally published in Eureka