If you are reading this, you most probably already have a strong inclination towards “going Digital” by now. The so-called connected consumer, new technologies and shorter innovation cycles, as well as tech startups disrupting entire industries: we all are getting at the very least a little bit itchy when thinking about our company´s future. Hell, we all know how Netflix killed Blockbuster, how the digital camera killed Kodak and how Airbnb and Uber are competing with entire industries (Hotel / Taxis). We don´t want this to happen to our own company too, so we aspire to have a Digital Transformation of our own.
Digital transformation projects & why they fail
In ktc, together with our clients we have been working on digital transformation projects, big and small, for a while now and we´ve seen some amazing results. For example with Profuturo and Suzuki Mexico. We really do think traditional companies at some point will need a digital transformation of some sort in order to stay ahead and avoid disruption.
However, we too have seen that a digital transformation at the company level can be hard to visualize, leave alone to plan it or to execute. Examples of barriers are identified both at the organizational level (cultural resistance, legacy technology and politics) and at the leadership level (lack of vision or sense of urgency, not having a clear roadmap)1.
“Roughly two thirds of Digital Transformation projects fail to meet expectations”2
Many digital transformation projects fail, or never even start, because of these barriers. You might have run a long investigation by a big consultancy firm, you might have mapped your current and potential customer journeys and you might even have an extensive report with very specific recommendations: Improvements in your business processes, changes in your executive team, several proposals for awesome digital platforms, both on the consumer side as well as internal tools.
But where to start?
Most of these improvements require taking a different direction, a change in (investment) priorities, management commitment and cultural changes. Implementing a digital transformation is both time and money consuming. All that while you still have a profitable business going on.
And that´s where lots of digital transformation projects are deemed to fail. It´s hard betting on this immense strategy with its huge implications. You might try, but somewhere along the way the consultancy report and plans ended up in a drawer.
Start behaving like a startup
So what are our startup competitors doing that seems impossible for existing companies with an already profitable business going on? We have a running start over them concerning cashflow and industry knowledge, so how can we avoid being disrupted by a newcomer? The answer is easy: start behaving like one of them. Or at the very least, have an innovation department that does.
Build an innovative business concept
Think about starting all over again in your industry. You have a blank sheet, but you´re aware of what´s happening around you in present time. Imagine the possibilities technology today brings us, think about the changed needs and improved experiences today´s customers are looking for. How would you solve your most important problems differently? Faraday Future for example, is trying to reimagine the automotive industry by asking the important “What if?” questions.
Think 10x instead of 10% and think better instead of cheaper. Obtain insights about customers and technology and use these insights as a foundation for entirely new value propositions and business concepts. Don´t limit yourself to your own industry, the best ideas come from cross-referencing. And of course, do an assessment of risk, feasibility, cost and potential gains for each of your ideas.
The experience becomes the brand
Focus on experience, not your brand. Today´s consumers aren´t looking for a brand to express themselves. Instead, they want an awesome but simple experience.
Think Uber-like experiences. Awesome, but simple.
The standard is very high these days, people have become used to platforms that have the service or products they are looking for, right at their fingertips and right when they need it. Information is readily available at any time, just with a simple search you will find the information you´re looking for. There are even some services that think ahead of you, they can get you what you need, based on context before you actually enter an app to search for it. An excellent example is Google Now, that can notify you at what time you should leave the office in order to arrive on time on your 11 o´clock appointment, based on the current traffic to get there.
Aim for the sky, but test your rocket first
Incremental innovations and efficiency strategies probably won´t cut it here. Remember we´re thinking 10x instead of 10% type innovations. When you have an idea for a product or business concept that has potential, build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) of it. Then test it, improve it, repeat this process and until then, launch.
Success doesn´t happen overnight, even for startups. Before Pinterest, CEO Ben Silverman had tried mobile shopping with Tote. AirBnB started off locally as “Airbed & Breakfast”. Lean methodologies can be used to reduce risk and increase success potential. Start experimenting. Fail fast, learn, then scale.
Nail it then scale it
Once you´ve launched your MVP, try gather as much feedback as you can. The first users, the so-called early adopters can give you invaluable feedback for improving your product. They are the ones you are resolving a problem for. Once they experience your product they might give you clarity on where to go next. In other words, keep testing. Once you´re sure it´s working or in other words once you´ve reached product-market fit, only then start scaling by expanding to other markets.