March 15, 2016

Digital Transformation: Digital to the Core

Wooden signpost with two opposite arrows over clear blue sky Old Business Way and New Business Way Business change conceptual image

Getting a true cost benefit out of digital business begins with establishing a digital strategy as part of your company’s core principles. Let’s be clear, a digital strategy is not a digital marketing strategy. There is much more to it than ad placements and personalization. Digital is not something that can be effective as an add-on to your operations either(More on that a bit later).

Digital business practices require a commitment through your vision and mission, to your operations, to your marketing, ultimately giving your consumer and new consumers new reasons to believe in your offerings. Digital strategies start at the very core of your business. In some cases, they help define your brand. For instance, many companies talk about reducing paper to save trees. Many companies now offer digital receipts, online contracts, and online coupons instead of printing these.

In other cases they improve efficiencies. Something as common as online ordering reduces your lag time on payment and shipping, improves convenience for your consumer, and reduces your processing time and costs.

There are usually cost savings in manpower, shipping, and other areas, so the benefit of these types of digital changes to your company bolster what is known as “accretive” growth, where the business adds sales of the same product using new methods. While there is nothing wrong with that, it does not create new streams of revenue or awareness and its value fades with time. Just for emphasis, I will repeat that one more time “where the business adds sales of the same product using new methods”.

The value of investing in new core digital advancements cannot be overstated. It creates the foundation to remain competitive in your industry. But the growth of your company can be greatly enhanced by using digital to create new offerings and unique experiences for your consumers.

Ask yourself, “Why,” at every opportunity. Why does this fit with my company’s objectives? Why will a consumer want this? Why do we need to change what we are doing? Rather than centering your digital strategy on corporate objectives, focus it on the consumers and make this part of your mission and vision. I have always said businesses need to continuously redefine their business model but that almost never happens here in Nigeria.

Disney has, for decades, produced book versions of their feature-length films. Pages were re-drawn to recreate scenes from the movie – often without the attention to detail that their movies are famous for. The target audience was primarily young children beginning to read or being read to by their parents. In 2013 they decided to add a new experience. They hired a small company to create programming that would grab frames from the digital copy of the movie and instantly convert them to hundreds of page layouts of one to twelve frames per page. Now fans could enjoy movie in book form rather than a simplified recap of the movie.

Why did they do this? Because their fans grow up, but the memories Disney movies instilled in their fans do not fade. The target market was an older demographic, yet these books obviously wouldn’t neglect their core target. Sales of the books in the first three months tripled projections.

Key to the success of digital endeavors is to add a visible and distinctive value to the consumer.

  • Make it the standard, Don’t create a stand-alone digital experience. Integrate it into your core offers as well to reinforce value of your advancements in the eyes of your consumers.
  • Make it useful, Whatever you do needs to differentiate you from your competitors and from your previous offerings. It’s okay to make things easier or better; it is brilliant to offer a different, useful experience.
  • Make it work, Commit to the highest quality of your programming. If it doesn’t work consistently or it is too cumbersome and heavy, consumers will notice it and reject it. Focus on the consumer experience and make it better.

Digital business should not be considered an add-on to your core principles. It must become part of the fabric of your company in order for it to be accepted by consumers and to provide them with a value not previously available.

What do you think about my point of view? I welcome your comments

Consider reading this Accenture article titled “Being digital: Breaking through the digital ceiling”, it helps reinforce my argument.

This article was written by Stanislaus Martins, Head of Digital at Insight and was originally published on his personal blog.