Digital is a mindset
I have often pondered over the question – what does being digital really mean for businesses? At the risk of sounding cliché, I always come to the same answer – “it depends”. Being digital could mean vastly different things for businesses. Broadly, I think being digital means leveraging technology to bring about a positive business outcome. More essentially, it is a new mindset that values deeper relationship while staying nimble to change and adapt. A mindset that is focused on solving relevant problems that create value pools for customers, workforce and partners as the business develops deeper understanding and intelligence of their behavioral patterns through these relationships. A mindset that relates back to ‘contemporary’ business outcomes such as innovation, engagement, sustainability and brand goodwill while balancing with the financial metrics.
Digital is different this time around
Digital mindset recognizes the differences in digital this time around.
Consumers are now open to new business models, products and services that provide higher value, even with some involved risk. For example, Uber is disrupting the transportation industry. It is not without heated debate around policy and safety. Still providers and consumers find significant value in this service – the very reason for its rapid adoption.
New entrants are leveraging digital technologies to challenge the incumbents more frequently than ever. Incumbents are responding back with digital presence to stay relevant. Businesses are no longer debating whether to go digital but how to rapidly maximize their digital leverage.
Devices and sensors are enabling digital to become an integral part of physical products and services. Humans do not distinguish the incorporated digital components and services as separate anymore.
Finally, in recent years, culture of open innovation has made the technical capabilities required for digital business much more accessible and economically viable. Large datasets analysis, sensors or mobility have all been utilized before; however these were expensive endeavors, available to only few who could afford. It is not the case anymore.
Digital is more than technology
Technology is critical but digital mindset looks at digital opportunity through a much wider lens that also includes strategy, culture, processes and the ways to engage with humans and “things”. Digital strategy needs to answer who, what, how and where the business will create and deepen the relationships. Strategy also recognizes the potential profit pools that can be created in foreseeable future, the touch points to generate consumer intelligence, ways to stay nimble and change as it gets more intelligent.
Culture needs to support strategy. Culture of customer centricity, innovation, transparency and collaboration typically enhances the organization’s capability to leverage the collective strength of people to identify and rapidly seize the digital opportunities. Culture also impacts operational processes. Customer centricity, automation and innovation are often key process design considerations for digital mindset. It focuses on experience design as a vehicle for creating deeper relationships. It understands that experience design is not just limited to user interface but the entire experience of interacting with the business including interactions between the consumers. It strives to convert the users into brand champions.
Digital is differentiated by the platform you build
Digital platform brings the enabling technology capabilities together. Platform’s ability to enable other components of digital business (i.e. strategy, culture, processes and engagement) can make all the difference between success and failure.
Digital mindset realizes that the only constant in digital business is change and therefore strives to build a platform with fluid architecture that supports modern practices such as DevOps and Agile practices. Fluid architecture is not just flexible to handle functional changes but also the scale – the reason why most modern digital platforms leverage public or private clouds.
Digital mindset is obsessive about the value of building deep relationships and therefore categorizes omni-channel delivery and analytics as must-have platform capabilities. These capabilities deliver insights-driven, personalized and contextualized experiences while also collect the relevant data to further the organization’s intelligence quotient. The analytics capabilities including the algorithms that make the platform intelligent are the key differentiating factor for digital success. Further, digital mindset recognizes the relationship between the integrated digital service management and user experience, ensuring that these capabilities are built as an integral part of platform and not an afterthought.
Finally, digital mindset understands that digital businesses are opening up new interaction patterns that also come with higher level of security requirements. Loss of sensitive user information could have serious consequences; even worse is malfunctioning of remotely controlled Internet of Things (IoT) devices that could create severe safety issues. Perimeter security is not enough; digital business must adopt an active security posture across all aspects.
Initially, digital initiatives may manifest themselves in a much narrower way, such as a new product or service, a new business model, operational efficiencies improvement or new market reach etc. However, in the end, the success of digital business depends on the having the digital mindset (or not!).