The term ‘digital transformation’ is often heard in the board rooms of businesses and at marketing conferences worldwide but what does it actually mean? Defining what digital transformation is, is a fundamental part of the implementation process. It can mean different things to different organisations. Is it about customer acquisition, about mining customer data for new insights, or about online delivery and fulfilment? Or is it simply about improving the customer experience – using online channels to deliver a better service? It’s easy to get excited about the potential of new technology, but there’s no point delivering lots of digital content if it has no practical, substantive benefits to customers.
Many businesses cannot resist the temptation to get caught up in ‘E-hype’ which is wrong. The digital economy is changing the ways that organisations do business. However, businesses still compete by understanding their customers, delivering what they want better than the competition and doing it profitably. These issues should be the starting point for any transformation program – how do we create competitive advantage? Where do we have points of parity with our competitors and where can we find the points of differentiation that mean customers will chose us rather than someone else? If you are not clear about these strategic priorities, then you risk being dissatisfied with what digital transformation does for you.
So developing a digital strategy needs to bear in mind the fundamental goal: how does this help me to drive greater competitive advantage? If someone can’t answer that, it ought to ring big alarm bells that they don’t really know what they’re doing. It’s no good having a great grasp of the latest trends in digital marketing or technology if you don’t understand the fundamentals of what a business does and how it does it. Too many transformation programs lose sight of what it was they were trying to achieve. So its critical for managers to step away from the minutiae and the jargon and focus on the strategic agenda.
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