We're used to thinking about business as a competition, in which only the fastest and the greatest ones last. But the digital age that we live in today makes that race even harder -- smart devices and algorithms communicate with the AI in a speed that the human brain cannot even imagine, or dominate.
Welcome to the Digital world, the Industrial Revolution is over.
Business has to digitally transform its core, not just to polish its image and be part of the social media. Digital transformation means finding new values and new ways to interact with the customer. Business companies have to be ready to fundamentally change their experience and make it digitally elegant, or to cede a significant portion of their market to digital-first companies who are already doing it, and that is a long-term process. And unfortunately, it is not a matter of choice.
It's about people who love the brand. It's about the customers who browse 24/7. It's about the product development and life cycle that's shorter than ever before. It's about the unknown completion and start up-ers who build their first company before even graduating school. It's about stuff management of people who don't care anymore about their academic skills as far as Google knows everything. Technology is evolving far faster than organisational change or the skills and competencies of most professionals.
The business of tomorrow should be able to connect more closely with the customers, to speed up the innovation, and to be able to create value anytime anywhere. Digital transformation is the only chance that business has to succeed tomorrow.
If everything seems that easy and clear, why I, as a digital transformation & marketing consultant in the last 20 years, still face the struggle of the enterprises to launch and deliver this type of transformation? Well, without any claims for exhaustiveness, here are the key challenges and how to overcome them.
Do you want to be godlike?
It's not about people not liking the change, it's about fear that's nourished in the ages - it's safer and much more comfortable and it keeps the well-oiled machine working. People like their rituals and habits, because it makes their daily life predictable, it makes them stable. Thinking they can control their lives, makes them feel godlike.
And then it happens. Technological age began in the middle of the 20th century -- mass scale computing, unprecedented processing power, computer storage, the rise of the internet, etc. -- by blurring the lines between physical, digital, and biological frontiers. Now it fundamentally alters the way we live, work and relate to each other. And it's unpredictable.
Digital transformation is not simply about technology, it's about shaping the entire business strategies, and anyone seeking to lead this area must know how to manage uncertainty.
We recommend to:
- enable digital globalization and extend your services to global presence;
- add digital business solutions/services or products, depending on your company to the portfolio and augment the physical and digital solutions;
- use the social media wisely and extend the multi-channels usage;
- create, innovate and be 'with the flow'.
The power of the ego
Ego generates fear and desire, and these are the passions that animate all human beings. The ego, especially the healthy one, is critical to the entrepreneur, to overcome self-doubts and the doubts of others, but even then, the continuous transformation is of great importance. A form of digital transformation is opening of the mind to know things not known to others, to cross the boundaries and gain access to critical knowledge, even when everything looks like working well.
Despite of the ego and the success, transformation insists on change, progress and development -- as many as possible, as quickly as possible, to scale those that succeed, and iterate those that aren't yet working.
Organisations should always be experimenting with new business models. This needs to be a parallel exercise. It's a little too late to start exploring new business models when the current one has bitten the dust. Business leaders today need to think of themselves as portfolio business leaders. The better their portfolio coverage is, the more likely their business is to succeed.
We recommend to:
- track and follow the customers' behavior in your own media channels;
- create an innovation hub within your company and never stop developing new ideas;
- test before invest -- and make it fast;
- trust your team and give it autonomy and authority to make decisions with the speed necessary to keep up with the digital world;
- work closely with the schools in the area -- not the universities, the schools -- students age 13 -- 16 years are already your potential employees. Potential competitors also.
A stranger in a city
It's a war rule - if you want to win, you have to know your enemy and get a strategy. The biggest challenge about the successful digital transformation is that enterprises still don't necessarily understand the full value it can deliver. If digital transformation strategies are to move from infancy to maturity, a digitally literate leadership team is vital.
We recommend to:
- enable the online access to the working process and documents and make your team work virtually -- anytime, anywhere;
- use the online data to analyze and modify your services according to the numbers;
- social media guidelines are recommended.
It's not about transformation, or digital -- it's about strategy
Have you ever heard anything about the X-Y-Z Generation theory? You have to know and completely understand your customer in order to build your business according to their needs, habits and behavior.
While the X-generation insists on 'leadership on the market, best quality and reasonable price' and believes in everything shown on TV, the Z-generation prefers the 'personalization, digital footprint and responsibility' while they keep scrolling in the social media 24/7.
The market share nowadays is a reflection of the company's digital IQ and if you want to be sustainable, start working on that.
We recommend to:
- prioritize your VR, mobile strategy, cloud and AI strategy and if you don't have such, start working on it;
- rebrand your business and make it digital friendly;
- establish partner relationships that can take the business strategy to the next level.
Digital transformation can be scary, it can be expensive and it can take much more time than you've expected, but it can also be quite easy and fluent, and definitely makes sense when you plan it properly and rely on experts. It's a matter of mindset and a proper strategy.
In the digital world of 21st century, everything changes in profound ways and digital transformation is the new norm. If you want to be on the market tomorrow, you have to ride the wave and start doing it, even without considering the limitations of finances and politics involved. It's a matter of survival.
Ivelina Atanasova, NewTrend Agency