“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
– Charles Darwin
Technology disruption has ushered in a period of ‘Digital Darwinism’. An era where the evolution of technology and society is faster than the ability of enterprises to adapt. The tectonic shift in enterprise business dynamics towards adapting their business models, the democratization of technology leading to the rise in number of connected consumers, and the transformation of enterprises to digital are a manifestation of ‘Digital Darwinism.’ Enterprises involved in adapting business models, enhancing customer experiences and improving operational efficiencies are bound to succeed against the digital onslaught, which already has led to the crumbling of large enterprises, including, Kodak, Borders, HMV, and Blockbuster, etc.
In a research conducted by Nielsen in 2014, in the US, close to 85% of the online consumers refer expert content and product reviews online before making a purchase. More than 36% of the in-store purchases are influenced by digital interactions, states a report by Deloitte. Enterprises are busy creating multiple touch points to remain on the top of the mind of their consumers. Adopting digital technologies with a stated vision is the key to survival in these times when consumers occupy a driver’s seat. It is interesting to note that only 71 firms still exist from the original 1955 Fortune 500 list, while the others could not survive the technological revolution. Traditional enterprises, over a period, have failed to evolve their business models and perish while the technological impact on business kept increasing. Let us understand the impact of “Digital Darwinism” on enterprises as it happens.
Adapting Business Models
The Indian coupon deal site Snapdeal, which started as an Indian counterpart of Groupon, adapted its business model to emerge as a successful online retail store, in less than a decade. The dramatic shift is accounted for the survival strategy of Snapdeal in the recent times. Changing customer experiences, rise in internet connectivity and pervasive effect of mobile technology on consumers guided the firm to quickly adapt its business model to keep the business afloat. The fall of Research in Motion (RIM), the maker of Blackberry phones, is a perfect example of how lack of technological innovation and misalignment of business model has negatively impacted the firm.
Enhancing Customer Experiences
To augment its brand positioning, Audi, the German automaker launched in-store digital experience through Audi City. The City allows consumers to experience full model line up within the store digitally, allowing a greater brand interaction with the machine and creating a mesmerizing purchase experience for its customers. Enterprises are busy providing tailored experience coupled with developing an emotional connect with their consumers using digital tools. With customer at the center stage, enterprise digital transformation strategy is evolving towards easing the lives of their consumers.
Improving Operational Efficiencies
Commonwealth Bank of Australia launched an app., which allows customers to view residential property details by just pointing their smartphone camera towards the house. The app also provides details on the equated monthly installments for CBA loans, thereby automating processes and increasing operational efficiency of the bank. Enterprises adding technological innovation at every step of the value chain are able to address the needs of their digitally connected consumers and find themselves on the cusp of digital transformation.
Gearing up for the Digital Action
Enterprises wary of digital technology may cease to exist in the next few years and are required to holistically upgrade their strategy for competitive advantage. They need to upgrade their technology, people, operational processes and business models to include digital. As Brian Solis in his book “What’s the Future? of Business ” states “ The future of business is not about technology, greed or short-term deals. It is about people, purposes and experiences. It takes vision. It takes empathy. It takes courage. The future of business lies in the shift from a culture of management to that of leadership. It begins with you..”
In order to gain strategic advantage over their competitors, forward looking enterprises requires to proceed with the following initiatives:
Define a clear vision for digital transformation: Enterprise leadership needs to define the roadmap for the transformation. The strategic vision should address: the demands of the connected consumers, a brand connect strategy and optimization of business processes for a successful digital transformation. Emphasis should be on the optimal use of digital technology across the value chain to streamline processes per the industry standards.
Seek organization support for implementation: The success of digital transformation depends on eliminating enterprise silos across departments and software applications. A flexible and innovative culture can help enterprise teams to propagate the strategic vision to a wider audience both within and outside the organization. The need is to focus the team towards customer centricity, which can help organizations overcome the initial challenges during the transformation process.
The transformation process maturity: Digital is still in its infancy. Technological advancements will consistently shape the digital transformation processes. As digital technologies mature, the strategic vision should incorporate changes to address new business needs. Leadership teams will require to seek active participation of their organizational teams, as the technology matures.
The Future Beholds
The digital onslaught experienced by enterprises in the 21st century is the beginning of a new age industrial revolution, which will lay the foundation of the disruptive firms. With customer experience influencing an enterprise business strategy in a big way, leadership team must pass the digital baton to a larger team for proper dissemination of the strategic vision. Successful enterprises are constantly innovating, developing and renewing their products and services in tandem with the customers demand. At a time, when traditional businesses are no longer relevant to keep their customers loyal, digital has created opportunities for enterprises to adopt, adapt and survive the Digital Darwinism, over a period.
Alok Ranjan is a marketing specialist and management consultant based in Mumbai, India. He believes, brands are caught in a maze of technology and economic dynamics, caused by disruptive forces, which are changing the way consumers interact with brands. Alok advises brands to shape consumer centric strategy and assists to develop a roadmap for businesses.