The digitization of everything

Most companies understand the need to respond and adapt to the evolving use of technology by their customers and other key stakeholders. What they do not realize is how little time they have to address these changes.

It took more than 70 years for telephones to reach 50% household penetration, compared with 28 years for radio and 10 for internet access.* Following this trend, the rate of technology adoption should continue to accelerate so that each new technology outpaces the adoption of its predecessor, and the future will see adoption rates measured in weeks and days rather than years. Google+, the new social media tool from Google, took only 16 days to reach 10 million users, compared with 780 days for Twitter and 852 days for Facebook. It took 10 years for the internet to become a basic and essential part of daily life. The future will happen much faster than that.

Organizations are wondering, or perhaps fearing, what Google will do next.

The real imperative in a world where everything is digitized is that businesses need to pursue innovation to disrupt their own business model before the competition does. Without innovation strategies, companies will lose their competitive advantage in an increasingly commoditized world. There is no time to lose as technology change accelerates exponentially and new digital platforms and devices are emerging. Furthermore, the expectations of the new ”Generation Y” or ”digital natives” mean that companies must keep up with the pace of change or lose relevance.

The challenge for businesses is to face the implications of digital change: in particular, the loss of control over the customer relationship, increased competition and threat of commoditization, and the need to engage digitally not just with customers but also with suppliers, partners and employees.

The starting point is a structured approach that assesses your digital maturity based on an understanding not just of the technology but a much wider, holistic view of exactly what digital engagement means to the business.

To deal with the challenge of digital change, companies must develop an end-to-end response. They need to build a comprehensive digital strategy and rethink their business and operating models to deliver this. Such a strategy must go far beyond the marketing department: it has to be about ubiquitous, cross-channel connectivity. It must enable continuous engagement with customers, suppliers, employees and investors. It must also be about c-level leadership and, critically, it must be about innovation and differentiation through the business or operating model.

* http://techliberation.com/2009/05/28/on-measuring-technology-diffusion-rates/

The complete article was written by:

  • Yunus Ozler
    Director, Advisory, Customer Strategy, Ernst & Young, UK
  • Pippa Thomas
    Manager, Advisory, Customer Strategy, Ernst & Young, UK

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