The importance of digital transformation for companies has been stated on numerous occasions. The associated benefits it can bring and the advantages that using the process will give a business over the competition have been well documented by many people, and the most successful companies can attribute much of their success to this. Trillions of dollars are expected to be spent on digital transformation over the next few years, and many companies are either in the process of implementing it, or are looking at how to incorporate it into their business. It seems a foregone conclusion that everyone will be adopting this approach in order to survive in a competitive market.
However, simply applying new technology to an existing company or even forming a startup with the aim of providing a new product or service is no guarantee of success. Implementation of digital transformation is a skill that will need to be employed carefully, with solid reasons for doing so. When considering the way forward, the first focus should be the benefits to and needs of the customer. This will necessitate a concerted effort by the Chief Marketing Officer, with information provided by the Chief Information Officer, to determine the direction that should be taken.
Without a full grasp of the possible ways in which new technology can or cannot be utilised, the process of digital transformation runs the risk of failing, wasting large amounts of time and money or simply creating sub-par products and services. This outcome is unfortunately commonplace and has been a large factor in the failure of many companies. This happens often, both in the gambling industry and in other markets – with the Sinclair C5 being one of the more famous historic examples. Cooperation between executives, alongside a deep understanding of new technology, either through in-house knowledge or by employing of outside expertise, will be vital to avoid this.
Various different avenues can assist in planning this approach. Options such as consultants should be sought out to fill in any gaps in knowledge or provide clarifications and expert opinions. Constant and wide research should be carried out to ascertain the most beneficial options. Communication between employees of all levels is also necessary to ensure that goals, requirements, plan and actions are all working towards the same end. In many industries, consortia are forming between historical competitors as they acknowledge the danger of failing in digital transformation and, at the same time, the need to evolve; forming a consortium allows the pools the talent, knowledge and resources of the best to investigate the future of their industry and sees development progress quickly whilst mitigating the risks.
Whatever the path a company takes, by ensuring that the needs and wants of customers are met, the company will be on the right track. One of the first questions that needs to be asked is not ‘can we do this’ but ‘should we do this’. To answer this, the Chief Marketing Officer will need to know the customers’ minds, sometimes before they even know themselves. Analysing data and trends will be key to this, and the huge wealth of information that will come with the Internet of Things may play a vital role in enabling this, giving just one more thing for companies to focus on in the near future.