Acquire more customers, faster by upping your digital efforts. Keep up with the tech-savvy consumer and watch your client base grow.
“Our growth occurred during a period of rapid advancement in ICT, all of which are available to everyone – including competitors,” recalls Anthony Kittel is the managing director of REDARC Electronics.
While the world is undergoing massive digitalisation, everyone’s applying differently. It’s your turn to take advantage of what’s already widely available, and turn it into your business’ very own growth elixir.
“To get this right will require an agile strategy that means incorporating the latest technology as it is released, and adopting a test and learn approach,” advise experts. “Companies should adopt a continuous improvement strategy, launching new digital channels early and iterating based on customer feedback.”
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Research suggests that an optimistic and open adoption of digital technologies, along with a focused implementation strategy, can have a positive effect on a company’s overall profitability. Your business can outperform its competitors by recognising the significant opportunities that digital presents to improve multiple business aspects and mobilise to capitalise on them.
Digital will mean different things tomorrow and ten years from now. Here are questions to ask yourself, to determine if you’re on the track of relevance and growth – according to the future customer:
1. How is consumer behaviour changing in the digital era?
Look around you. Digital penetration is reaching an all-time high, and consumers are gaining greater access to information, and means for communication and collaboration. The evolution of price comparison, driven my information accumulation, means consumers now have real-time, mobile access to data that they previously relied on you to provide.
This has led to consumers trust each other outweighing the trust in your brand. Today, 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations, while only 14% trust advertisements. Think free online peer-to-peer travel review site Tripadvisor. Boasting 45 million reviews and opinions, and 6 million photos of travel destinations, multiple conversations between potential consumers are happening around a brand at any given time. This can be a frightening concept a business used to controlling its brand message.
Where does that leave you and your business growth plans? “To attract these young people as consumers, a company cannot just look good – it has to be good,” according EY’s research.
Enter the prosumer – a consumer who is unusually interested in your products and services, and dedicates time to upload reviews, comments and responses to other reviews and comments about the product. Some prosumers will record YouTube videos to help other users with technical service issues of a particular product. Prosumers are a useful source of product development ideas, and you can incentivise them as a low cost provider of technical service to other consumers.
Take back control over the customer relationship – which is easy to lose with Gen Y – by demonstrating a keenness in collaborating. While other brands face a loss in the information monopoly and a shift towards two-way communication and conversation, it’s vital that you work towards embracing the shift in consumer power. Doing so will cultivate a symbiotic relationship with your customers and consumers in general.
Adapting to and meeting the demands of your customer will be simpler – but by no means easy – if you master accelerating the adoption of new digital technology. Failure to swiftly apply advancements poses a growth challenge when dealing with the digital customer’s evolving expectations.
Related: Jason Goldberg asks are you (realistically) ready to scale your business?
2. Why should you care about digitalisation and digital transformation?
“The reason disruptive technologies are very important to all leaders – whether they’re CEOs or policy makers – is because, for the first time, we now have technology affecting every single sector of the economy,” notes McKinsey’s James Manyika. Whether you’re in retail, financial services, shipping, manufacturing, or agriculture, technology is, and will continue to be, a driver in your operations.
Most companies understand the need to respond and adapt to the evolving use of technology by their customers and other key stakeholders, according to EY’s The Digitisation of Everything. What they do not realise is how little time they have to address these changes.
Facing the implications of digital change and developing a structural approach to the challenge is what you, as a business leader, should be focused on. “I foresee a big change coming in the way the very best organisations are making some of their key judgments, forecasts, predictions, decisions,” says MIT’s Andrew McAfee.
“The tough transition is going to be getting the people and the alleged experts out of the way, and teaching them to be a lot more humble and a lot more data driven.”
John Chambers, chairman and CEO of Cisco, believes that business leaders face a choice: Disrupt or be disrupted. A swifter pace towards transformation – “the pace of change, squared” – is a key driver for the exponential thinking required at all levels of the collaborative chain.
Related: Develop your business model
3. How to adapt a digital strategy for your business in order to scale your operations
Your social media strategy cannot be your only tool to meet the demands of your customer in the digital revolution. To capitalise on a great opportunity to transform and capture the rewards of a digital world, you need great commitment and a proactive approach.
Develop a comprehensive digital strategy that tackles concerns such as ubiquitous cross-channel connectivity, social commerce, and the threat of commoditisation.
The failure of many bricks and mortar business models to adapt to the threat of Amazon is a demonstration that to stand the test of time in the digital era, transformation of business and operating models that is needed. Tech giants like Google and Microsoft are recognising the need to shift and adapt business models, because commitment to innovation means that even giants need to be agile.
Enhance or transform business models
Introduce new ways of interacting with consumers, suppliers and employees. Develop end-to-end digital engagement strategies and comprehensive digital operating models that address suppliers and employees just as much as customers. It’s vital to decide between enhancing and transforming your existing models. Alternatively, you could invent a new model.
Key to your digital transformation is embracing innovation within your business. Implementing innovative technologies and solutions, such as digital banking tools, or ICT technologies will assist in gearing you up for your digitalisation. Importantly though, you also need to create a culture of innovation within your organisation. Buy in of your staff is essential for driving change.
Research by Accenture has established that executives are more likely to expect digital technologies to help deliver growth-oriented benefits – such as creating new revenue opportunities and supporting better customer engagement – than efficiency.