Today ‘digital’ is the talk of a town. We hear about digital technologies, digital data, digital media, digital transformation, digital marketing. Everyone wants to go digital. But which way to go? And is it a journey or a destination?
We know now that mobile is the future of everything. With the rise of the Internet of Things and mobile devices our lives and habits have clearly changed. Everything is now connected and if it’s not, it’s about to. We live in a world where you can connect your coffee machine to the Internet and make your coffee via Bluetooth. If your coffee machine can go online and you’re still only thinking about it, what does it say about you?
So, you’ve decided ‘to put yourself out there’? But before you move with your digital strategy, it’s important to understand what it really means and thus how to be able to benefit from it.
Digital transformation is often viewed as an implementation of digital technologies into all areas of business in order to build more sustainable relationships and better understand the needs of customers.
But this is just one of the ways to look at it. When talking about digital, we can think of discovering new frontiers and using innovation and technologies to push your business. It’s about finding new possibilities of an existing service in order to design and deliver a better experience for your customer. Some might argue it’s a new way of interacting with customers. None of these definitions is more true that the other but what we can all agree on is that today
But this is a theory, in practice the best way to draw your digital inspiration is to learn from the masters like Amazon, one digital company that conquered the retail world.
Ten years ago nothing suggested a threat to brick and mortar stores. Their future seemed bright and promising. Back in 2005 Amazon was just an online bookstore with modest sales numbers. Today it is worth more than all major brick and mortar stores in the United States combined.
So it’s either nothing predicted a storm or brick and mortar stores failed to notice all the warning signs on their way.
But not all stories are of success. There are some that serve like cautionary tales. Take Kodak, a company that squandered every digital opportunity it had. And plenty it had. It was a Kodak’s engineer who invented a digital camera back in 1975. And their initial reaction was that it would be a threat to their main business – film. Instead of seeing the bigger picture, that they are in the storytelling business, Kodak thought they would be able to conquer the new technology with a good marketing strategy. The problem with Kodak was not that they failed to go digital, their problem was in not being able to adapt to the digital age and the new needs of their customers.
Ok, you still think your business is too conservative and doesn’t need digital transformation? Here’s an example from another old-fashioned industry that has gone online recently – a tattoo one. Inkbay is a Swedish startup that was launched in 2016 to help people find and book a tattoo parlour online. Many may argue that tattooing belongs offline, that one of the reasons why it’s become so popular is that it’s something you can’t get on the Internet. But the numbers say the contrary. Inkbay initially linked studios in Stockholm, Malmo and Gothenburg and now holds 60 studios on its platform, only to expand to London this summer and Berlin and a 1-billion $ U.S. market soon to follow.
It may seem that your business is doing just fine offline today. Either because your industry is quite conservative or because you’ve been using other means to get the word out there. But what about tomorrow? In the quickly changing world will it be enough what you are doing today? The lesson we can learn from the Titans of business is quite simple – in the today’s world of digital transformation, be an ‘Amazon’ not a ‘Kodak’. Learn to think ahead of your customers’ needs rather that fail to adapt to the needs of the market. Find a way to deliver today what your customer might need tomorrow.
1. Think fast in terms of innovation
Change is the only thing we can be sure of. Strive for innovation and greatness now in order to stay competitive.
2. Embrace the Internet of Things
The Internet of Things has arrived and it is a key to creating your innovative experience. Everyday objects are now connected to the Internet, like a fridge that determines when you’re low on food and orders it for you. This creates a lot of new opportunities for marketers. Businesses and customers will only continue to benefit from it.
3. Go with the trends
When it comes to marketing, the party is happening in the digital world also. Traditional media is slowly dying while digital media is projected to become the number one channel for ad revenue by 2019.
4. Don’t underestimate big data
There’s myriad of valuable data out there but not everyone knows how to use it fully. Analytics helps us understand how customers behave, what they really think about the brand and how your business is seen by the market.
5. Adapt to the new needs of customers
The one lesson we can definitely learn from Kodak is that if you ignore your customers, soon they will ignore you. It’s not enough to have a great product, you have to see a bigger picture. Kodak was not in the film business, their business was of storytelling and they ignored that.
6. Think outside the box
Like Inkbay did. Be a frontrunner in your field, create value where everyone else thinks it’s impossible.
The main takeaway is, if you’re not online, it’s like you don’t exist. People are impatient. We want everything to be accessible right here, right now. This is 21th century, no one wants to turn to yellow pages or ask around to find your business. Customers need it to be one tap away on their mobile device. Because if it’s not on the Internet, it doesn’t exist, period. And if your business is not online, chances are your potential customer will find someone who is.