Digital disruption isn’t a bomb that gets dropped on an industry one day.
It’s a tipping point—a series of little taps that push the ball up the mountain, and once it’s at the top, it starts downhill, gaining momentum as it rolls.
It’s not a single piece of technology that creates digital disruption—it’s the will of the people producing the product, the Forbes article that launched it, the word of mouth that drove adoption, and the investors who supported the growth. When all of those little things combine to reach the tipping point, there’s no going back to the way things were.
Which brings us to the question: Have we reached the tipping point for analog processes?
Or, to put it another way, is there any purpose for analog processes?
We know that traditional, offline processes still exist, but we’re rapidly approaching a time when maintaining those legacy systems will hold companies back, allowing digital disruptions to upend their business.
Today, we’ll look at how we arrived at this digital tipping point, why you should care, and how to analyze your own processes to look for areas you can improve.
Have We Arrived At The Digital Tipping Point?
For certain industries, we’re way past the tipping point. Digital disrupted the newspaper and music industries in an extreme fashion.
Jimmy Iovine, legendary founder of Interscope Records, famously abandoned music production in pursuit of building the hardware empire Beats by Dre because he didn’t want to participate in an industry where the future of revenue was so unclear. In that instance, digital disruption changed the product from CDs to digital files, which were much harder to prevent piracy and illegal sharing, But that’s not always the case.
One of the interesting things about digital disruption is that you don’t have to replace the end product to turn an industry on its head. You can find areas along the supply chain and enhance them with digital to produce dramatic results.
Financial management and banking have long been considered too sensitive for digital, and they also have certain protections required by the federal government. But Mint was able to gather tons of purchase and financial data on millions of Americans by offering a popular budgeting tool. They didn’t create a bank account because they didn’t have to. So rather than replacing a business like financial management, Mint is actually enhancing it by adding the ability to offer more personalized offers and services.
We’re right at the tipping point for digitizing analog processes. Anyone who is counting on traditional, offline processes to keep their business going will soon be disrupted, as show in the examples above. And we’re looking throughout the entire supply chain, not just the end product. If you’re looking for the reason why companies are doing this, continue reading!
The Case For Digitalization
There are very few people who wouldn’t enjoy cost savings or improved efficiency that comes as a result of digitalization, but revenue is the universal catalyst for action in business. That can make it tricky for some companies as they embark on a digital journey. They want the rewards, but they may feel wary of the upfront financial investment. Yet if your company wants an overall increase in revenue, you must understand that you’re going to need digital to attract new customers. Some analog systems may be working right now, but they are not the future of work.
There’s a whole generation of your potential customers who have grown up with the Internet. Even though all of us use the Internet now, the difference is that this generation has never used many of the analog processes we’ve evolved from.
- They’ve never used a rotary phone—many grew up without a landline in their home.
- They’ve never looked something up in a hardcover encyclopedia.
- They think a floppy disk is a 3D-printed version of the ‘save’ icon.
And while these facts might be amusing, they also shape how new generations interact with the world, and therefore, company brands.
For instance, many Millennials and Generation Z members prefer live chat to a phone call. If your website doesn’t have live chat, you may have just cost yourself a customer. There may be several opportunities to enhance your customer-facing assets with digital to engage a younger audience.
Millennials also don't use fax machines because they don't need to. There are other options to produce the end result (transferring data/signatures) that are far easier, and more secure, such as HelloSign electronic signatures.
Digitizing one area of your organization is great, but when you truly commit to digital transformation, your benefits include things like accelerating business activities, lowering cost, improving time to market, bringing positive change in processes, employees, and business models. Indeed, that is why “digital transformation” contains the word “transformation.” It’s a holistic journey, not just a simple IT change.
That said, here are a few ideas to get the ball rolling at your organization.
Accelerating Your Own Digital Transformation
With artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things upon us, you want to act now. Whether or not you believe analog processes may never completely disappear, they will almost certainly be modified or enhanced with digital.
The first step in digital transformation planning is to develop a strategy. It needs to come from the top, not the IT department. Ideally, digital transformation touches everything and cuts through departmental silos by design.
Every organization is different, but most strategies have the following components:
- Data collection - Take inventory of your current business operations. Look for specific actions and find out how much time each action takes.
- Objectives - Define the desired outcome(s). Remember to set SMART goals—Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time Bound.
- Identify opportunities - Start with repetitive, analog processes. Out of all the actions you found in the first step, figure out how to make a dent in the truly time-sucking processes.
- Planning - Create timelines and budget. Without allotting time and money to this project, it won’t ever get done.
- Build a team - Make sure every department is represented, and consider if you’ll need outside consulting. Motivate them with the idea that once the hard work is done, every day of their working lives will now be easier or enhanced with digital automation.
While following those steps, you’ll start to find ways how you can become more efficient internally while also producing a better end product for your customers.
As we mentioned in a related post, Digital Transformation is A Stepping Stone to Innovation, your organization may end up with new products, services, and processes as a result, but that’s the beauty of it!
We invite you to check out our free, 12-course Digital Strength program. It’s the whole package for digital transformation, from education to implementation and everything in between. Early adopters, those-mid-way on the transformation journey, or those yet to begin will all find something of value in this program. Enroll today!