Covid19 has forced many countries one can argue to undergo about ten years of digital transformation in one year. Something as basic as online learning, many countries, especially Small Developing States (SDI’s) in the Caribbean, have a hard time dealing with this. Both students and teachers alike are grossly underprepared for the “University of Zoom”. Then there is the over-focus on technology; we somewhat believe that digital transformation is all about the new technologies available to make life easier for all of us, however, it is much more than that. In the “Digital Transformation Playbook,” Professor David Rogers wrote that digital transformation is not about technology, but it is about strategy and a new way of thinking. He further went on to assert, that preparing for the digital age requires businesses and organizations to upgrade their strategic mindset more than their technology. Put simply, Digital transformation is about a shift in the mindset of the leadership of an organization.
According to Professor Rogers, there are five domains of strategy that digital is changing. Outlined below are those five domains of strategy:
Digital technology is changing how we connect and create value for customers. Traditionally customers were seen as mass markets, we created one communication message and sent it out to a broad cross-section of people. There was no level of differentiation; however, in the digital era, we are moving away from mass marketing to customer networks. In this paradigm, customers are dynamically connected, and their interactions with each other are changing and influencing each other’s relationships with businesses and brands. We already know that word of mouth is one of the most effective forms of marketing; now imagine a world of social media where word of mouth is on steroids. That interaction between customers has the potential to change brands and business reputations forever.
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The next domain of strategy that is being changed by digital is competition. In the past, businesses competed with other businesses that looked and operated just like themselves, however, in modern times, companies face competition for businesses outside of their geographical boundaries and from businesses not even in the same industry as them. Particularly, as those companies are offering a competing value to customers. Another interesting factor here is that one can compete with one company’s division and cooperate with another. For example, imagine Apple competing with Samsung in the Smartphone market but buying some other inputs from the same Samsung for their phones.
Data is one of the other domains of strategies that I am more intrigued by because I think it is the area where we do not pay as much attention. Data needs to be seen and used as a strategic asset in our businesses. Data is being generated in an unprecedented quantity from conversations with clients, social media, mobile devices and practically any touchpoint with customers. While some data may be collected systematically, such as a survey through survey monkey, google forms or Typeform etc, that is not always the case. It is up to all of us to now find a way to use all the generated data to make some strategic decisions in our business and generate new value for our customers.
Innovation has become a buzzword in the digital age; we look at innovation as how new ideas are developed, tested and brought to the market. Conventionally, innovation was managed by the senior leadership in an organization. They had a laser focus on the finished product, and no emphasis on market testing as this was seen as an expensive process.
Today with digital transformation, businesses can take a different approach to innovation, which is modernization by continuous learning and rapid experimentation. Digital technologies have made it easier to test ideas and get market feedback from the beginning of the innovative process. In digital transformation, we speak about the minimum viable prototype. This is where different assumptions are tested on an ongoing basis, and decisions on which products to launch are made based on feedback from actual customers and not what the manager thinks should happen.
The last domain of digital transformation is the value a business delivers to its clients. Customarily, the value proposition of a business was fixed and defined by the industry that the business was operating in. Today focusing on a fixed value proposition that does not change will lead a business to potential disruption by new customers. In the same way platforms like Netflix disrupted blockbuster videos, customer value can change quickly, and the competition is constantly looking for new ways to provide value for our customers. Disrupt yourself before you are disrupted
If you are interested in learning more about digital transformation, I recommend reading “The Digital Transformation Playbook” by David Rogers.
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