Companies are keenly aware of the imperative of the digital age: either go digital, or go home. Disruptive technologies such as blockchain, Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things, virtual reality—the list is long—are shaking up the corporate world across many different sectors and industries. Industry giants feel increasingly threatened by start-ups and smaller rivals who are faster and more agile, and thus able to harness the power of new technologies more quickly.
What must leaders do in order to retain their advantage? We share some insights into the challenges leaders must overcome in the digital era.
The digital transformation never ends
Digital transformation is the word on many leaders’ lips. It is the process of integrating technology into many if not all areas of an organization, profoundly changing the way in which companies create and deliver value to customers. Whether it is through transforming the customer experience using Virtual Reality or increasing operations efficiency using ever more sophisticated robotics and software solutions, there are great gains to be made by integrating digital solutions throughout the entire value creation process.
Leaders need to remember, however, that the transformation is never complete. The rapid and ongoing development of new technologies—even if Moore’s law is winding down—means that savvy leaders must continue to embrace new technological opportunities or face the threat of extinction. Moreover, they cannot not simply be satisfied with harnessing today’s technology, but must continually assess the threats and opportunities that future technological advances will create for their business.
The customer’s needs still come first in the digital era
Embracing the power of digital does not, however, mean jumping onto every technological bandwagon that comes along. Companies must remember that the most powerful source of growth and ultimately their raison d’être is their customers. Creating and delivering value for the customer should therefore be the driving force behind every major decision a company makes.
As such, expensive and time-consuming technological innovations should only be undertaken insofar as they help the company bring improved value to its customers. For example, creating an app that saves customers time and effort by allowing them to more efficiently book your services is clearly a worthwhile investment. Digitalising your operations to decrease production time, and thus get your offering into your customer’s hands more quickly, is also a good idea. But spending millions in developing purely technological improvements that your customers neither need nor ask for might prove to be a waste of time.
Embracing the power of digital marketing
Finally, the digital era offers endless new opportunities to reach and engage potential customers. Traditional marketing strategies are beginning to give way to digitally-driven ones, with more and more marketing dollars going towards online advertising, social media and SEO optimization. Last year, more money was spent on digital marketing than on TV.
Whilst its clear that investing in digital marketing is therefore a good idea, companies must also be savvy about exactly where to invest. As today’s audiences are increasingly saturated with information and advertising, savvy campaigns and spot-on targeting are a must. Having good quality insights into your customers’ online behaviour is essential. If you are targeting millennials in the US, for example, you should probably know that influencer campaigns on Snapchat will probably work better than sponsored podcasts.