Todd on 29 Aug 2016

Digital transformation: you can’t out-slow the competition

“Digital Transformation” – a catchphrase that’s guaranteed to pop up in many a business transformation or strategy session.  It’s a buzz phrase for sure, but this buzz is not going away any time soon.

As journalist and author Steven Levy proclaims, “the world is poised on the cusp of an economic and cultural shift as dramatic as that of the Industrial Revolution.”  Digital is the next Revolution. Surviving this revolution means businesses must centralise customers’ expectations as the primary focus and take technology by the horns and act fast.

Deloitte (2015) defines businesses harnessing digital transformation as being, “focused on integrating digital technologies, such as social, mobile, analytics and cloud, in the service of transforming how their businesses work.” This is contrast by those businesses that take an ad hoc approach and look to solve discrete business problems with individual digital technologies.

Today, technology underpins virtually all customers’ expectations, and exceeding those expectations is the holy grail of competitive advantage. What business today, whether B2C or B2B, is impervious to pressure from mounting expectations from increasingly powerful and digitally savvy customers? What businesses survive with an “out slow the competition” strategy? These are rhetorical questions, by the way.

Dilbert digital plan

Dilbert (Scott Adams)

Today’s business leaders are at a junction: seriously invest in business technology to win, serve, and retain customers, or stumble under the weight of legacy IT.  It seems a no-brainer, but most risk averse leaders want to go with a bit of both.  Unfortunately, there’s not enough time to hedge your bets, as competitive advantage, along with customer loyalty, can be a fickle thing.  Those looking to solve discrete business problems with individual technologies without consideration for the rest of the business, risk running a business operating at two paces. Neither of which will keep up with the customer’s expectations.

Consider an organisation that places the customer central to its complete business, like Netflix for example. Yes, it’s a widely used, perhaps even an overused case study, but it illustrates the point so well.  Netflix is a cloud-based, connected, customer-obsessed firm that has cross-functional teams of sales, marketing, service, production, and technicians all focussed on customers’ expectations. Netflix aims to act as a single entity to rapidly sense and respond to changes – its competitive advantage.

Going for the bit of both approach may be comfortable and less risky in the short term, but the reality is customers’ expectations are evolving more rapidly than ever before. If businesses don’t prioritise and execute on a digital strategy that centres on customers and spans all corners of the organisation, a faster digital disrupter will.  Just like Netflix vanquished Blockbuster.

If you’re interested in learning more about integrating your systems or leveraging your data and platforms such as Azure cloud or Office 365 cloud platform to derive long-term value, please contact us.

We can help you gain or grow your competitive advantage.