How Soon Is Too Soon to Worry About Digital Transformation

You have run your business for years and things seem to be going as usual. Should you start thinking about digital transformation? Maybe your are just starting out and wondering if websites and web applications really matter at your stage.

It is not business as usual anymore

We love to think of traditional businesses as things that are out of the reach of the online world. There is something romantic about it. As much grounding as the thought can feel, there is very few businesses today that are not impacted by the technological changes of the past 20 years. This is not to say that being online is the the golden solution to all business problems. It just provides a new way to do business, while providing great tools to optimize existing ways. Sure, e-commerce has still a long way to go to even come close to in-store sales, but ask book shops, computer shops and toy stores what they think about it. While e-commerce for grocery shopping remains at very low adoption rates, almost every other sector gets a big share of their business handled online. Things change rapidly. Every year new buzz words take center stage. Automation, AI, Big Data, AR/VR. It is easy to think of these as issues that do not concern you. Most probably they don't. Most of these technologies are just starting to bring value to the large companies that spent billions researching them. It takes time for technology to trickle down to practical use cases. Not much time though. Things move fast. The reason it takes time is that implementation costs start to go down, and more businesses or consumers can adapt the technology. More developers can see use cases and develop solutions that solve business challenges. Why is the web so crucial now? Internet adoption rates are high, very high. They say a picture is worth a thousand words so here we go.

Your customers are online. Your suppliers are online. Your government is online. That's why companies rush to adapt and understand the new ways they can grow their business in a world that is connected more than ever before.

Digital native companies

If competition from the good, old and known was not enough, new digital native businesses are started every day. You might think this concerns only technology startups, a reality far, far away from raising cattle, for example. You would be wrong. There are digital native companies in agriculture, fishing, distribution, construction, fashion, marketing, technology, publishing, you name it. Digital native companies are built from the start to take advantage of every innovation the web and a connected world can offer them. They run operations at lower costs, they know of problems earlier and are more resilient. Existing businesses followed suite. The New York Times is 170 years old. In 2019 their growing digital ads revenue surpassed their declining print revenue. Out of 4.4 million subscribers, 3.3 million were digital subscribers. Long standing businesses have gone a long way to adapt, use the challenges of the web as opportunities to transform and grow at fast pace.

How soon is to soon?

It you have to ask the question is already late. If you start your business today, make sure it is a digital native business. It will save you the headache down the road. There is no reason why you would ignore the opportunities the cloud offers. Your competitors won't. If you have an established business, you need to take a look at your operations, sales and other business processes. Check out your competitors and get a general view of your industry. Follow the thought leaders in what you do. You will most likely hear the same thing no matter the industry. Everything is moving towards cloud integration. Digital transformation is not about costs. Most companies can pay the initial costs of getting the systems set up. Digital transformation is more than anything else about having innovation at the core of the organizational culture. It does not really matter what sector you operate in. Your digital strength impacts revenue and profitability directly.

Does it apply to what you do?

Yes. I do not really need to know what it is that you exactly do to answer that question. I can be more specific if I did, but 99% of the time the answer will be yes. I like to take cattle as the example when it comes to questions like this. Sure you can go about your business as usual. Your competitors are not. Your digital native competitors can understand when something is wrong with their cows ahead of time. They can monitor each cow activity, feeding levels, milk yield and quickly identify patterns that require intervention before it becomes costly. Your digital native farmers run more cost effective operations, at higher revenue growth. Humans have domesticated and raised cattle for over 10000 years. 10 millennia of human experience and yet digital transformation has touched the sector with excellent results. In the odd case that you operate in an industry sector where digital transformation has not affected business processes, it definitely has affected marketing and sales. So yes, it applies.

What can you do

Running successful digital transformation projects takes more than coming up with a website where people can read about you. Although, in case you do not have a website yet, please get one built for you. Start a discussion. Learn how digital transformation helps businesses like yours. You hire lawyers, accountants and yes, you need to higher consultants in the digital transformation field. You will find a wide range of firms specializing in digital transformation to reach out to. Since you are reading this here, you probably know that's what we do as well. We would be thrilled to know more about what you do. Whether we have the privilege of serving you or not, we hope you understand that in today's world success is inevitably linked to digital strength.