This isn’t going to be one of those “if you don’t do digital business now, you’ll most likely be dead by the morning.” But . . . there is tons of evidence that strongly suggests you cannot be complacent, hunker down and stick to the things that have worked. Digital Business is not a fad. Welcome to the new normal. Your cheese has moved. Mid-market companies must adopt digital business. It’s what your customers, your vendors and your employees expect. And if you don’t deliver it, they’re likely to drift towards competitors that do. In the Harvard Business Review article “The Most Digital Companies Are Leaving All the Rest Behind” by James Manyika, Gary Pinkus and Sree Ramaswamy, the authors state:
“Digitally enabled innovations often have network effects associated with them, which in turn leads to “winner take most” outcomes; the top-performing companies enjoy far higher profit margins than the rest, and a handful of frontier firms are leaving everyone else in the dust.”
Where to Begin
You’re a mid-market CEO. What do you do? Digital business is not just for large enterprises with 7-figure budgets. In fact, opportunities for you abound and for greater reward compared to your global ginormous brethren. Why do you think we have stories like “David & Goliath?” Because small, agile, well-trained warriors with everything at stake can triumph over seemingly more powerful adversaries. But don’t read this to mean you will triumph because you’re smaller. Pay heed to the “agile,” “well trained” part.
According to The Data Center Journal in “Digital Business Disruption in the Mid-Market,” the authors Ray Wang and Bob Vormittag provide 3 important pieces of advice to mid-market companies interested in harnessing digital for strategic advantage.
1.) Think and Act Globally
Digital business knows no geographic boundary. Technology can extend your reach and your grasp. Leverage it.
2.) Go Mobile
In recent research done by Braun Research on behalf of Bank of America, 96% of respondents aged 18 – 24 reported that their smartphones were important as compared to 93% for toothbrushes and 90% deodorant. Cars? 80%. Aside from what this says about the hygiene habits of this group, you can certainly see how important it is to leverage this customer channel. Customer service is one place to consider. According to Tricia Morris of Parature in “5 Reasons Mobile Customer Service must be a Priority,” providing mobile customer service can improve lagging customer engagement.
3.) Invest in Analytics
Get your arms around your data: big data, small data, medium-sized data, it doesn’t matter. If you have all the information, you’re ahead of the game. But, what if you have so much more data you are able to predict the most probable future? Now that’s Kryptonite to your competition.
To the three above pieces of advice, I will add a fourth:
4.) Automate Decision-Making
Data is now the key strategic business asset. Every device, every customer, every activity – everything that’s happening in business produces incredibly rich data that can help create new experiences, new efficiencies and new business models. Leveraging this data can be the differentiator for your business. IDC estimates companies that are leaders in using data assets to their advantage will capture $1.6 trillion more in business value than those that lag behind.
Data is pervasive but actionable intelligence from data is elusive. Companies want to transform data into intelligent action. To do this they need to more easily analyze massive amounts of data so they can move from seeing “what happened” and understanding “why it happened” to predicting “what will happen” and ultimately, knowing steps should be taken to optimize the outcome of a business process in flight. Only then can they create the intelligent enterprise. Use data analytics to discover insights; use automated decision making to ensure it’s applied consistently and effectively.
The digital business wave is here. You can either be overcome by it, or you can ride it to new vistas but you can’t avoid it. Catch the wave.