May 29, 2018
Digitisation is presenting an array of both positive and negative implications to the technological landscape. As a result, there is a widening gap between what technology does for us and what it does to us. The benefits of businesses digitising are countless. By digitising, businesses will;
- improve customer service
- provide advanced accessibility
- facilitate better information exchange for staff and users
This in turn increases the efficiency of business processes, consistency, and quality of products/services.
The scope of the term “digital” has changed. In the past it encompassed our ‘IT’ capabilities, then extended to take in social media awareness. Now it’s much more pervasive, touching on strategy, culture and customer experience.
In this article, we examine the questions businesses should ask before embarking on their digital journey. Questions such as, why do I need to be digital ready? What should I expect? And where do I even begin?
Businesses already recognise that they must use digital channels to engage with their key stakeholders. They recognise the importance of maintaining relevance and driving the conversation. However, the problem is that few seem to realise just how fast the change needs to happen, or how transformational it needs to be.
Why Do I Need It?
Digital Is Driven By The Customer
While companies tend to be aware of the need to achieve collaborative and cross-channel engagement with their customers, they are less conscious that this need also applies to both suppliers and employees.
However, the rise of social media is breaking down barriers between these groups. Instead of talking face to face to customers, suppliers and employees, organisations are now talking to an audience of people who are often talking to each other.
As well as generating a great deal of noise, this interaction means that information can flow in directions that the company did not anticipate. This can be negative for businesses as they cannot control the dialog around their business.
That being said, customer data management, analytics and social listening technologies can help companies deliver relevant and personalised experiences. Investing in these technologies and integrating them with core customer experience capabilities is a great way to measure performance.
Don’t Fight It
There is no denying that businesses will always need humans. However, there is also no denying that the digital revolution is here to stay and is only set to grow. That being said, if we harness the technology correctly, it will bring about an undeniable positive transformation.
Suggesting that machines are ‘stealing’ our jobs is nothing new. “Automation has happened before,” says Bhagwan Chowdhry, Professor of Finance at the University of California, Los Angeles. Chowdhry points to the shifts that took place in factories during the Industrial Revolution, when automatic looms and other machines took over from human weavers.
The difference today is that the digital change won’t exclusively affect manual jobs but will disrupt white collar jobs too. However, despite an abundance of scaremongering, the rise of digital shouldn’t be viewed as a negative implication.
In saying this, digital transformation fundamentally changes how companies create, monetise, and defend value, giving companies that competitive edge. Therefore, if businesses don’t adopt and adapt to the latest technology, they will get left behind.
Companies need to work harder to effectively implement digital technology across all sectors of the economy. The reason for this lies in higher productivity rates, which ultimately increases the standard of living.
Due to the giant leaps in technological advancements, governments and policy makers are failing to get a handle on how the progression will affect the average citizen. Therefore, businesses need to be at the forefront of change and continue to innovate.
The responsibility lies with businesses to build their customers trust in digital transformations and technological advancements.
The recent questioning of Mark Zuckerberg proved the disparity between the advancements of technology in comparison to the knowledge of policymakers. While politicians don’t need to be technology experts, they should at least be familiar with products they may soon need to start regulating. But until they do, the onus lies with businesses to safeguard and deal with the concerns of their customers.
What Should I Expect?
Things Will Change
Digitising requires new processes and skills, as well as an overhaul of company culture.
How a business delivers its product offering will change due to the impact of digitisation. Businesses that once sold products, have re-evaluated their core business strategy and have transformed this into a service offering. An example of this is automotive companies transforming into transportation service providers, or companies that previously sold software packages now offering subscriptions. As a result, this expands revenue streams and opens channels of ongoing customer engagement.
The cultural shift caused by digitising may test the very existence of individual companies. Boards and executives will need to question all pre-existing assumptions about the company’s mission and industrial positioning, as well as the sustainability of its business models.
Continuous collaboration and ongoing conversations between shareholders, boards, executives and “frontline” employees are imperative for the success of a digital change. Digital understanding and capabilities are required across the firm and must be supported by the firm’s corporate culture. Therefore, the leadership team of any company should champion the transformation as well as embed themselves in the new company culture that emerges from the change.
Digitising is time-consuming, expensive and can be hard to achieve in-house. However, having a consultant or guidance from a third party can alleviate some of this strain.
Where Do I Start?
The digital revolution is here and is rapidly taking over. Companies that don’t act quickly, will inevitably get left behind. Considerations every company should adhere to include:
- Define what digital means to your company. Going digital means being open to experimentation and change. A company must accept the possibility of failure in order to successfully adopt an effective digital strategy.
- Lead from the top. Going digital requires dedication and commitment from every level of the company, especially key board members. This, of course, takes time, creativity and innovation to ensure a smooth transition to digital.
- Listen. Listen to feedback, adapt and evolve. Don’t underestimate the digital knowledge of the team. Take the time to sit down as a team to discuss how technology could help improve the business. As stated previously, digital equals openness. Be open to suggestions for digital improvements and feedback, this way employees will feel encouraged to share their knowledge.
Digitisation is occurring at an unprecedented rate. Business models, management theory and design are all being re-invented by new technological realities. Learning at enterprise level, through strategic partnerships, is how companies thrive during this period of change.
Digital is changing the world, and to date, progress is not linear. In a world where a smartphone is no longer just a smartphone, but a potential revolution, we invite organisations to explore what digital advances could mean for their businesses.
If you have any questions about preparing your business for the digital age, get in touch: