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Business evolution in the digital Darwinism era

It wasn’t too long ago that the dot com boom took the global economy by storm, significantly changing the way businesses operated. Enterprises realised that in order to survive they had to adapt the web-first strategy. Those who did not, are no longer around. Back then, it was an ‘adapt or die’ situation.

Nowadays, with technology rapidly changing and customers becoming more demanding, it is no doubt that businesses are at the edge of a similarly disruptive period and entering another era of digital Darwinism. The world is changing at an accelerated rate, and the only way for businesses to survive is to adapt and digitally transform themselves or get left behind.

This observation is supported by the results of a recent global survey of more than 700 digital decision makers, conducted by Loudhouse and commissioned by Progress. In Asia Pacific, 95 per cent of the respondents recognise that digital transformation is critical for driving business outcomes, and 80 per cent believe they only have two years to make inroads and respond to the digital ultimatum before suffering from financial or competitive consequences.

Customers experience main driver for digital transformation
A staggering 99 per cent of respondents cited optimising customer experiences and engagement as the main driver for business digital transformation. This is not surprising as customer expectations are rapidly changing with the advancement of technology. We all spend more time online, more often on smartphones and tablets, and we expect to have full access to apps and services just as easily while on the go as at our desk. On top of that, we want to be able to switch devices and still have seamless access to the same information. For businesses, this means being able to deliver a secure and friction less omnichannel experience to customers.

Today’s consumers also do most of their research through digital platforms prior to setting foot in a store or engaging a sales agent. It is therefore critical for companies to present customers with the information they need, in the order they need and wherever they need it. Failing this, businesses will not get past the discovery stage and consumer interactions will not be converted from a lead to a sale.

Paths to digital transformation
Aside from enhancing customer engagement, it is also critical for enterprises to adopt a platform to effectively manage websites and other digital assets while being able to leverage big data and analytics to gather customer trends and insights, as well as connect the dots between marketing initiatives and business outcomes. For example, with data analytics, companies can track customer behaviour and interaction, which are necessary in creating personalised engagement and informing business strategies.

Also vital in the digital transformation equation is a close collaboration between IT and marketing teams, which allows content to be developed and reused across digital platforms while ensuring security. In fact, 73 percent of our respondents from Asia Pacific believe that better alignment of IT and marketing is essential in delivering digital transformation initiatives.

Digital transformation as a strategy
While many enterprises recognise the value of digital transformation and have measures in place to drive the journey, as many as 57 per cent of respondents in the survey say that their organisation continues to be in denial about the need to transform. So why the reluctance? Some organisations may think digital transformation is simply another buzzword, promoted by system integrators and software vendors as a reason to buy more technology solutions. Some organizations may think they are already transforming by launching a new mobility initiative or moving a process to the cloud. On the business side, this may provide a false sense of progress toward digital transformation. While some others may just be uncertain on how they will be able to optimize investment returns in these initiatives.

Ultimately, it is important that companies take a long term view when considering the next step in their organisation’s digital evolution. To fully reap the benefits of a digital business, it is imperative that companies approach digital transformation as a business strategy rather than a one-time process implemented on an ad-hoc basis. It needs to be a complete, end-to-end structured process that not only leverages new technologies, but also addresses the need to develop a digitally-enhanced and customer driven business strategy.

Benjamin Wong

The author of the article, Benjamin Wong, is the Managing Director, Asia at ProgressBenjamin