Whether you’ve consciously noted it or not, everything down to the rituals of getting dressed and grabbing brunch with friends is influenced by digital transformation (DX).
Think about it. What percentage of your clothing was purchased online? Did you read a review before deciding to visit that restaurant with the ridiculously-good and equally strange burger-topped Bloody Mary?
But digital transformation doesn’t stop there. Aside from its impact in our personal lives, it’s changing businesses and entire industries.
If it hasn’t already, DX is coming for your organization—whether you’re ready for it or not.
It’s time for your business, like the rest of your life, to get digital.
But don’t just take our word for it.
Thirty percent of 18 to 35 year olds reported avoiding a restaurant if they weren’t able to get a good idea of what the establishment had to offer via the social media channels they frequented. Namely, Instagram.
Word of mouth marketing has become more of an expression than a literal strategy. Nowadays, those kinds of referrals come from artfully-take social media photos or a few dozen keystrokes in a Yelp review.
And that can make all the difference in the world when competitors and plenty and consumers are empowered to shop around for everything from food to retail items, business software products, service providers, and more.
According to Nielsen’s Trust in Advertising Report, a personal recommendation is the most trusted form of advertising. And 88 percent of over 2,000 consumers in a BrightLocal Survey said they trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations.
What’s more is that 93 percent of respondents check reviews before making a dining or purchasing decision. 85 percent read up to ten reviews to makes sure they’re getting the whole story on a business before giving them their, well, business.
In a supply-rich world where digital natives are beginning to run the show, DX isn’t just for hip, young restaurateurs who grew up on social media.
Chains like UK-based Bill’s is getting in on the action with share-worthy food and decor. Using social media to their advantage is neither a trend nor an afterthought. According to head of marketing Jack Carey, digital presence plays a vital role in their marketing strategy.
“We've seen Instagram play an increasingly important role in our comms strategy as both the channel itself and our Instagram profile has grown in popularity,” Carey said. “...So, we approach Instagram with the view of building a picture for the customer rather than an opportunity to drive quick sales. For us that's not what social is (or should be) about.”
All is not lost if social media marketing isn’t a good fit for your audience or your business model.
DX runs far deeper than that.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, your digital representation was good enough if you simply had a website floating around on the World Wide Web.
In 2018, that’s not nearly good enough. Now, digital runs all the way to the core of your business strategy and culture. Advertising, marketing, production, hiring, and everything else that makes your organization function must be viewed through a digital lense.
“Digital is not about selling goods on the ‘net; digital is about a cultural transformation,” Rajeev Vasuveda, CEO of executive search firm Egon Zehnder, told Quartz. “It impacts every part of your business.”
Today’s consumers are using the internet the way they used to use the phone book or do the footwork to find out what their options are. If you’re selling something, chances are right now someone is using your digital presence to compare your offering to that of your competitors. They want to window shop your options, pricing, location, and of course—reviews.
If you aren’t online, you aren’t even on their radar.
Digital Transformation Takes Hold Even Where You Least Expect: A Case Study
DX happens in every industry and every organization—even those that don’t seem inherently digital on the surface.
Take for example the multi-trillion-dollar fashion industry.
If you’re reading this in 2018, chances are you’ve visited or walked by a J.Crew. But in the next few years, it’s uncertain if long-standing chain retail stores—and the malls that host them—will continue to exist.
Former J.Crew CEO Mickey Drexler built a career, and the anachronistic monicker “merchant prince,” in what is now a bygone era of fashion merchandising. Even after watching technology enter the retail space while helping design the first Apple stores, he and most traditional retailers failed to foresee the way DX would upend the entire fashion retail industry.
In the early days of online shopping, big fashion chains thought they had it made. They were the only retailers who could afford mammoth ecommerce platforms and therefore continued to control demand, trends, and the flow of fashion. Their lead times remained long and their understanding of digital business strategies short.
It didn’t take long for a new breed of agile retailers to adopt and adapt that same technology the retail giants thought they had a monopoly on.
These digital natives proved to be worthy competitors with their digital marketing and social media savvy and rapid lead times fueled by digitized shopping metrics, communication channels, and supply chains.
Unlike retailers of old, digital-first retailers like Zara and H&M know they don’t control trend discovery anymore. Instead they move with agility to keep up with rapidly-changing tastes.
Zara is able to make quick production decisions based completely on what’s selling and what isn’t—not on what one small, centralized team of merchandisers likes at the moment.
The numbers make it painfully clear how digital transformation took hold in an unlikely industry and empowered certain retailers to rise to the top of the pack.
How to Identify Opportunities for Digital Transformation in Your Organization
As we’ve learned from the hospitality and retail industries, it’s extremely hard yet wildly rewarding to identify opportunities for DX in your own organization. But just knowing that doesn’t make it any easier to start; especially in a business that feels downright un-digital.
The majority of modern enterprises have already deployed tech in one way or another—whether it’s marketing software, machine automation, or digitized HR processes.
But DX isn’t about updating a few processes across siloed departments or selling your offerings online. DX is an agile culture, digital systems that make work more efficient, and digital-savvy personnel who embrace technology to communicate and increase their impact.
There are opportunities for every organization to take part in digital transformation. If you need help mapping DX activities to more efficient systems and a better margin in your specific industry, look no further than our tips for identifying, prioritizing, and hitting the ground running with DX.
How to Embrace Digital Transformation in Every Industry
Technology is breaking down barriers to entry no matter the industry. To gain a competitive edge, here’s how modern enterprises can undertake digital transformation before it’s too late.
- Prioritize business objectives so you can determine which DX undertakings will provide the strongest ROI, will be easiest to implement, and will have the best impact on your most important business goals.
- Get organizational support early to ensure company-wide buy in and lay the expectation that changes across the organization—including budgets and departmental structure—will be happening in the near future.
- Establish a budget by comparing the cost of DX to the benefits each activity will gain. As many DX undertaking often require bringing fresh blood into an organization, don’t forget to account for new hires or consultants.
- Build a roadmap to help prepare for future obstacles before and to encourage your entire organization to follow along on your DX progress.
- Rack up a few quick wins early in your digital transformation. Once you’ve prioritized your business objectives in the first step, you should have a good idea of the high-visibility and high-impact projects that will win early support.
Ready to dive deeper? Get even more direction, resources, and tips for embracing digital transformation here.
Digital transformation has changed the way consumers make purchasing decisions and otherwise interact with companies. And those companies who have chosen to embraced this fact are the ones who will separate themselves from the pack in the coming years.
By understanding the value of DX no matter how un-digital your industry seems, identifying opportunities to embrace it, and enacting our five steps to to bring your DX strategy to life; you’ll be able to run right alongside the other modern enterprises changing business as we know it.