The power and joy of technology lies in the opportunity to reinvent processes and introduce entirely new ways of doing things.
The evidence is everywhere.
Uber has broadsided the taxi industry. Airbnb has reinvented hospitality. Meanwhile, former powerhouses like Kodak, Blockbuster and Circuit City have scrambled to stay relevant.
It’s safe to say digital disruption is the new normal — and having a digital strategy, essential.
Our new report, “Prepare Your Business for the Digital Future,” created with Forrester Research and digital consultancy Salmon, snaps the landscape into sharp focus. Among the findings:
- 81 percent of organizations have a digital strategy in place.
- 74 percent believe they have defined processes.
- Another 74 percent believe they have the right structure and skills to deliver digital projects.
- 36 percent admit they cannot measure the business impact and benefits of digital investment.
- 11 percent rank as digital leaders while 57 percent are deemed laggards, according to the survey.
In business terms, this isn’t merely a gap; it’s a chasm, says Rackspace Chief Digital Technologist Mike Bainbridge. “Many business and technology leaders lack the digital capabilities they think they have,” he says. “Their companies aren’t equipped with a complete digital strategy to confront today’s challenges.”
Here are five ways to make digital disruption your friend:
- Focus on the Customer. Too often, business leaders view everything through the filters of marketing, sales and maximizing revenues. Instead of thinking about business success, Bainbridge suggests leaders take aim at the customer experience. “If you deliver products, services and support that matches customer’s needs and desires, success will follow,” he says.
Uber is a case in point. It makes finding a car, riding to a destination and paying impressively simple. OpenTable similarly makes restaurant reservations a breeze.
- Embrace Analytics. Don’t think of marketing data as marketing data. Or sales data as sales data. Think of everything as enterprise data and look for new and innovative ways to put it to use, Bainbridge says.
Along the journey, there’s a need to tap data scientists and analysts who can think beyond the flat earth of departments and turfs — and combine all sorts of data, including POS, sensors and machines, logs, social streams, legacy data and more.
- Unite the Business. Silos are a death knell for the digital enterprise. “It’s critical to build a digital team that views things beyond reporting lines and understands the big picture,” Bainbridge says.
Our report found that best-practice organizations assess digital requirements from across the business and then set objectives. In fact, they rely on a digital Center of Excellence that’s able to coalesce business, customer experience, and technology expertise.
- Build a Strategy Around Metrics and Funding Models. Digital experts establish clearly defined KPIs (key performance indicators) that extend far beyond revenue. This might include factors as diverse as customer lifetime value and employee satisfaction. In addition, the most successful companies work closely with finance to establish a funding model that works for the organization.
- Stay Agile. Old school business thinking is dead on arrival, Bainbridge says. “You can say we’re not going to be an innovator, and we’re not going to come up with the next great idea — we’ll just be a fast follower. But, today, if you’re going to be a fast follower, you have to be able to move in a highly agile way,” he says.
Those who move too methodically get crushed. On the other hand, it’s important to get things right and quickly recover from mistakes or missteps. “Building and deploying an app just to get an app out there is a path to disaster,” Bainbridge says. “It has to deliver value, or you lose people.”
Organizations that assemble all the pieces effectively often achieve transformative results. Consider Crowdcube, a UK-based crowdfunding investment platform. Using a managed cloud environment incorporating DevOps, it deployed a complex infrastructure rapidly. Today, the company can dynamically scale servers on the fly and spread the load efficiently. The result? High performance and 100 percent uptime.
Suggests Bainbridge: “Whether you operate in a traditional or digital organization, study the disruptors and learn from them. The methods they use can translate to any organization and help drive innovation.”