Do you remember the music of dial-up modems? That scratchy, squeaky noise indicating you might just be able to check your email and slowly load a webpage before someone needed to use the phone. Despite a misplaced nostalgia for that awful tone, it’s clear that the world has changed.
We now have high-speed internet in the seat of our pants. Literally. Just pull out your phone. And the research shows that businesses that embrace new technology and craft a digital strategy gain significant competitive advantages.
The Digital Imperative.
The study, by MIT Sloan Management Review and Capgemini Consulting, describes the drive to gain competitive advantages with new tech as “the digital imperative.” Companies that adopt a new digital strategy experience transformations in their organizations that streamline old processes and expand their business with new opportunities. New tech brings new options, and the most important of those options is the ability to engage a consumer directly on their computer.
The study included a survey of digital strategy across a variety of industries. Among respondents, 78% said that achieving a digital transformation is a critical move within the next two years. 81% are already in the process of adopting emerging technologies and integrating them into a new digital strategy, while only 5% said that digital will never become important. The consensus is clear. Digital is revolutionizing business, and it’s better to be among the 81% than to be left behind.
The Digital Transformation paper also argues that no organization is immune to the effects of the digital revolution. A company that sticks its head in the ground like an ostrich puts themselves at a deep disadvantage. Even if a single company abstains from a digital strategy that brings them into the 21st century, their larger industry still faces inevitable changes. Embracing digital means gaining a competitive advantage over those who do not.
According to the study, among companies where a digital strategy is a prime consideration in their executive agenda, 81% believe that will manifest a competitive advantage within two years. But what about companies whose leadership ignores a digital strategy? Only 18% of those surveyed believe their companies will increase their competitiveness.
No matter how good technology gets, customers remain the lifeblood of a business. Someday we may sell to artificially-intelligent robots. But until then, we rely on real human beings with real emotions to make sales. A good customer experience is important to acquiring and retaining customers. It’s important then that the number one benefit of a digital transformation occurs with improved customer experience.
Enter the E-Commerce.
Customer experience is where e-commerce comes in, introduces itself to the party, and then shines bright. An online webshop offers self-service options that simply aren’t available at a brick-and-mortar store. With e-commerce, the customer goes online and shops directly for what they want, and your e-commerce store is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Search options and smooth navigation help customers browse through your products with the immediacy they desire. Guided selling identifies their interests and offers them relevant products and services.
A customer even has the ability to customize products and submit for quotes when they use product configuration. A robust e-commerce site even provides digital content for your customer to build trust, relationships, and education. Detailed product catalogues, instructional videos, whitepapers, and more all contribute to helping your customer and guiding them towards the purchase. The customer experience expands exponentially with e-commerce and provides the lynchpin of a full digital strategy.
Digital Now, Digital Tomorrow.
As the Digital Transformation study shows, businesses are investing strongly in the digital future, and those that don’t are left behind. Online selling and robust digital content both improve customer service and expand your business. This is your competitive advantage because a digital strategy helps you not only keep up with the Joneses but hopefully surpass them.