It’s becoming increasingly clear that companies that do not make an effort to change, evolve, and embrace the enterprise digital business paradigm will find themselves in an unrecoverable situation.
According to S&P data (from a McKinsey & Company insights article ), in 1958, the average corporate lifespan was 61 years. In 1980, that went down to 25 years, and in 2011 it further declined to 18 years. S&P predicts that at this rate, by 2027, 75% of the S&P 500 Incumbent companies will no longer exist.
We have seen the shift from mainframes to web-based applications to integrated platforms and, now, mobile/cloud/BI/social. Although all of these are technology enablers, I believe the shift really needs to happen across four key dimensions as per our Digital Evolution Model:
- Business process model disruption/transformation
- Digital enterprise
- Immersive experience
- One-off applications/technology
Business process model disruption is what Uber and AirBnB did in their respective industries. These companies invented a new business model that leveraged social, mobile, and cloud technology. At this stage, business processes must optimized to leverage change to evolve to digital business. This stage also includes a culture transformation at the enterprise level, driving people in the company to think more about the customer experience than about processes.
The second stage, digital enterprise, is critical to shaping the digital enterprise architecture. When done correctly, the benefits of this stage include speed to value through more optimal business-IT alignment. The overall architecture is developed in an agile manner to ensure alignment with business processes and strategies, creating process efficiencies during execution.
The third stage is the most exciting for companies, in my experience. Essentially, it’s about putting the customer experience at the center of your business to establish deeper customer and employee engagement, increase brand loyalty, and lower cost of acquisition and retention. Immersive experiences focus on three key areas:
- 1Connect. Design emotionally engaging experiences by understanding user context and user needs.
- 2Deliver. Distribute those experiences across devices and channels
- 3Engage. Make the experiences social and enjoyable.
The final stage of the model is to plan and align a strong technology and integration approach that embraces some of the emerging technologies currently enabling the digital business ecosystem. This may include mobile, cloud, BI/analytics, social media, big data, and/or gamification.
The key here is not to dive into a particular tool or technology but to thoughtfully understand what technologies align to the shifts you’ve made in strategy, process, and customer experience during the first three stages of the model.
I see many companies starting off with a one-off technology change to begin embracing digital (or at least make it look like they are). This does not take them where they want to go because the shift to digital must start at the business strategy level and take into account culture, people, products and services, market factors, competition, regulatory obstacles, and more. I am not discouraging companies from trying and prototyping key functions at a smaller scale (I highly recommend doing that), but it should be clear that this does not automatically make an organization “digital.”
The good news is that when companies work their way through the model and reach the final stage of maturity, they see enormous benefits from ubiquitous access and near real-time information, including smarter decisions and improved e-commerce and m-commerce channels.