March 1, 2016

The ABC of digitalization

Manish Kumar

Head Offering Management & Customer Enablement Consulting, Tieto

There is a lot of noise in the business world around the need for inventing and deploying new digital business. A thing that has dawned upon the corporate world based on the meteoric success of some of the start-ups that have challenged the corporate stronghold. New start-ups with innovative business models are disrupting traditional businesses and it's time for these businesses to fight back to save their ground.

As I look at this change in business dynamics, there are a few things that organizations need to keep in mind while defining their digital fight back strategy. (I would rather say that in this new world there is no separate digital strategy but rather one business strategy that takes into account the digitalization needs). These things are important for organizations to realize and I believe would determine their long term success or failure:

A) Harvesting the past - An asset that traditional organizations have is the existing customer relationships and old customer data. An asset that's often ignored or underestimated. In a rush to fight these startups most of the traditional businesses define their own digital strategy in isolation and in completely new turf. They try to fight out the small nimble startups on grounds that are not favorable to them. I rather believe they should re-think this approach and leverage their core asset for their advantage to define the strategy for the new world. They should harvest the deep customer data and history they have to define what needs to be changed in the new world. This would work in their favor and help them succeed better against the start-ups.

B) Understanding the importance of early adopters - If we look at history of civilization then we would see that cowboys were important to discover new grounds; early settlers were equally important to make those towns inhabitable so that the settlements could thrive. The same holds good in the corporate world. We can have digital ninjas developing new solutions and services for the digital world. However if we underestimate the importance of the early adapters and do not promote them then these solutions would never hit mainstream. I often feel that these digital ninjas are over-glorified and these early adopters are underrepresented.

C) Balancing the Duality - Last but not the least we need to realize the importance of balancing this duality. On one hand developing new disruptive businesses is important, but equally important is continually improving the ongoing services to keep them profitable and robust. The cash and data assets that we harvest from the existing legacy operations is the most important fuel for the enterprises that would define their success in the new world. This is a reality that most of the enterprises often seem to undervalue. We are too easily drawn in by the success of the new start-ups but we fail to see the vast numbers that started new things and failed, a luxury that most of the established enterprises do not have.

At the end I would like to conclude with the thought that as existing business in this fast changing world we need to look at the opportunities ahead of us in totality. We need to define the grounds that we would like to defend and the battles that we would like to fight. We need to take stalk of the assets we have and use them in a way that they work for our advantage. And last but not the least, we should not underestimate the importance of these early adopters as they are the ones who would transition these new innovative services into mainstream businesses for us!

Read more: Digitalize your business!




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