When the Internet was in its infancy, only the most innovative companies rushed to embrace it. Today, it would be very difficult to find a successful business that does not have at least a rudimentary website or email accounts for employees. As technology advanced, businesses were forced to adapt, and they must continue to adapt if they are to thrive.
The most pressing need today is to take steps toward becoming a digital enterprise. A digital enterprise is one in which the business model is effectively combined with technology to satisfy the demands of customers who are embracing the digital world in ever-increasing numbers. The key is to make the transformation successfully. Businesses that have been the most successful at becoming a digital enterprise typically have five traits in common.
1. They Accept Alterations to the Organization's Culture
As companies make the move to becoming a digital enterprise, it often becomes clear that the business model in place simply does not facilitate the move. The model may have been effective for decades, but it typically must be altered to make the most of digital initiatives. In many cases, there has been little interdepartmental collaboration or sharing of resources. Data may exist in siloes that have been jealously guarded by database owners. Departments may tend to focus only on their own areas of responsibility, paying little attention to the needs or goals of other departments.
* To become a successful digital enterprise, companies must become more willing to adopt a culture that fosters sharing and collaboration.
2. They Realize Digital Transformation is a Journey
Historically, an IT upgrade involved installing the software, testing it and then deploying it throughout the enterprise. For the next one to five years, the company coasted along with the same system although occasional minor updates might be needed. However, digital technology is changing rapidly. To stay competitive, digital enterprises must be willing to make frequent updates to the status quo. As technology advances, companies must be willing to keep pace.
* Becoming a digital enterprise is not a "one-shot" project. It is a journey without a concrete, fixed destination.
3. They Embrace New Technologies
As companies take the "digital enterprise journey," they must remain open to new technologies. Successful digital enterprises evaluate each new technology to determine how they can leverage it to further their business goals. They stay abreast of innovations in cloud technology, mobile apps, wearable tech, digital signage, kiosks, and much more to see if recent changes can provide additional benefits. When a new technology appears, they are willing to embrace it, and they leverage it to attain the maximum benefit for their specific needs.
* Successful digital enterprises do not fear new technologies. Instead, they welcome opportunities to harness the latest tools to help them remain agile and competitive.
4. They Build a Digital Team
The transformation to a digital enterprise is a company-wide initiative that affects all departments. As such, every department must have the ability to make its needs and goals known. However, not every department head has the time or inclination to delve into all of the possibilities that technology offers. A digital team can coordinate digital initiatives with the different departments. Team members can determine what each department needs and if necessary, explain why a certain demand cannot be met at the present time. The team can also evaluate recent innovations, such as Internet-connected devices, to offer suggestions to management on the feasibility of certain technologies for the enterprise.
* Although the entire company must become a cohesive digital enterprise, it is unreasonable to expect every employee to understand everything about all technologies. A digital team allows goals to be achieved more quickly with less disruption.
5. They Focus on Customers
Modern consumers do not want to be "sold." They want to feel that they are in control of their own purchase journeys. As such, they want a much higher degree of personalized engagement. Successful digital enterprises realize this, and they use all available tools to deliver an intuitive, personalized, and engaging experience to their customers. They leverage their data to customize interactions with consumers, and they base business decisions on facts obtained from the data (rather than intuition) to continuously improve the experience.
* Successful digital enterprises are obsessed with meeting or exceeding their customers' expectations. Although they know that they will gain many internal benefits from digitization, they never lose sight of the fact that their customers are the reason they exist.
In the future, most businesses will fall into one of two categories: thriving enterprises that successfully made the transformation to digital and struggling companies who see market share and profitability decline every year. Adopting the best traits of companies that have already transitioned to digital enterprises successfully is an excellent way to make your own transformation.