Real World Futures

How to get ahead of the digital pack

Date: 02 February 2016

FIVE thinking and behavioural traits define the digital forerunners who are making the big gains in a changing world, according to analysis by international business consultants Bain and Co.

Their report, Anatomy of a Digital Forerunner, identifies the traits that lead to success.

“What’s at stake is industry leadership,” Bain says in its report.

“The companies that can increase their digital fluency and create value throughout the enterprise are increasingly coming to dominate most markets.”

Many businesses, while recognising the power of technology, are unsure where to begin and become overwhelmed by the options.

“In our experience, the relative few companies that are setting the pace in digital transformation push past this moment of indecision and dive in, confident they will gain a deeper understanding of their customers’ needs and use it to develop innovative, elegant solutions.”

These are the traits Bain has identified:

  1. The vision to disrupt, not be disrupted:  They give primacy to digital needs and empower the whole organisation to learn what customers want, then digitise to deliver.  For example, the retailer Nordstorm has developed a new store brand for millennials, built a mobile product that helps shoppers identify clothing that suits them, improved its instore offering and built up its inventory management to get on the front foot.
  2. A commitment to understand customers and take action: They capture data at all levels to better understand individual customers’ needs and behaviour.  “A key goal of digital customer engagement is to move away from the traditional one-to-many marketing model and create opportunities for a more compelling one-to-one dialogue.”
  3. An integrated customer experience:  They understand what customers really care about and create an integrated strategy to use the right mix of physical and digital assets. Beauty company Sephora has developed mobile apps that allow a customer to scan a tube of lipstick and read reviews before buying.  In stores, customers can scan a QR code and send a gift directly to a chosen recipient with payment as easy as a swipe.
  4. Speed and Innovation:  They accept failure and use rapid prototyping to learn quickly and develop the right solution. Their characteristics are more like a start-up than an established company and this thinking is embedded.
  5. Capabilities that cross traditional boundaries:  They restructure roles and reimagine how teams interact. Sometimes that involves empowering a senior leader to direct traffic and assemble the resources needed to guide digital transformation.  The Commonwealth Bank recognised the need for this and elevated the role of the organisation’s IT leader.  One result was that customers can now apply for a mortgage online in 15 minutes and get a response in 60 seconds, a process that used to take weeks.

“Leaders continually ask themselves: where will digital technology have the greatest impact on our value chain and how can we invest proactively to get ahead of the curve?” Bain says.

“How can we use technology to better understand our customers and deliver what they want? Is leadership aligned and committed to the vision? Have we engaged the front line to both design and embed our digital strategy?”  www.bain.com

Content sourced from QUT News Web Service.

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