Earlier this year, we asked companies “What is the single biggest threat to your business?” The consensus across the board was that digital technology is transforming the competitive landscape. Companies such as Amazon, Airbnb, Uber, and Ally Bank are turning industries on their heads by utilizing digital technology to fundamentally change the way they deliver services and engage with customers. While this initially presents a threat to traditional markets, it also opens up a range of opportunities for companies willing to rethink how they do business. How far are you willing to go to make your company competitive in this era of digital revolution?
Digital disruption is economy-wide and will continue to intensify in the coming years. Organizations that recognize this and begin formulating and implementing a digital transformation strategy have the competitive advantage. Working with analyst firm 451 Research, CenturyLink surveyed hundreds of IT leaders around the world. In what follows, we offer a subset of the findings from the full report.
Key Business Imperatives
There are four key pillars of competitive transformation impacted by digital technology:
- Improving customer experience
- Improving operational efficiency
- Increasing the level of agility of organization
- Better risk management
Different companies are at varying stages of realizing these goals.
- When it comes to improving customer experience, consumer retail organizations are in the forefront of utilizing digital technology to transform their markets. Digital technology enables them to automate more of the customer service processes and provide more self-service options. This automation helps reduce friction in the relationship with the customer and results in a better customer experience at a much lower cost.
- Organizations are also utilizing data analytics to gain new insights into their customers’ behavior and preferences. They’re using this data to offer personalized services and to respond in real-time to changes in the marketplace, inventory levels and purchasing behaviors. This all boils down to a more positive customer experience that has a real impact on the bottom line.
- Improving operational efficiency is another key issue across the board for organizations in all industries in both the public and private sectors. Operational efficiency is more than just reducing costs. It’s about being innovative in how you manage your processes and approaches across all lines of the business. This can present a challenge for companies that are well established in a traditional line of business. Unless they are willing to rethink some of the basic tenets of doing business they risk giving up market share to more innovative companies in their industry.
- Businesses with a formal digital transformation strategy are more agile, are able to adapt to changing market forces more easily and are quicker to innovate. Companies know more about their customers than ever before. With every point-of-sale interaction or internet click, consumers share a wealth of information that companies can tap into and respond to in real-time. This kind of agility can allow a company to increase the speed of delivery of their products and services and makes them more resilient to marketplace shifts.
- But having all this sensitive data comes with a certain amount of risk. When it comes to managing business risk, the number one issue is securing customer data. Cybersecurity is a very real issue for IT organizations. There is no silver bullet when it comes to data security. Instead, organizations must have multiple layers of security and need to be proactive in preventing or responding to cyber threats. Security threats are intensifying along with shifting regulatory pressures. Your reputation depends on your ability to safeguard data.
From Strategy to Implementation
At this point, most IT organizations agree that digital transformation offers a critical competitive advantage. Knowing where to start and how to maintain momentum is crucial. Digital transformation is not easy. The myriad options and platforms available introduce a level of complexity that can be difficult to wrap your arms round. Inflexible legacy systems, aging applications, inadequate bandwidth, outdated work practices, lack of infrastructure and organizational silos only add to challenges of implementing changes.
- Choosing the right partner enables an organization to get the most out of their transformation.
A trusted partner will work with you to engineer infrastructure and network solutions that are flexible and reliable – enriching overall customer experiences while improving operational excellence at the same time.
- Cloud technology is forcing organizations to rethink delivery of IT services and how they are used. By moving more applications and business logic into the cloud, companies are able to focus on innovating other parts of the business. Utilizing IaaS and SaaS can improve efficiency and agility in responding to change. And we are reaching tipping point when the convergence of multiple clouds across the enterprise—data, applications, infrastructure and personal clouds—will fundamentally change the way businesses operate. This requires rethinking not only infrastructure and operations, but also processes and roles of employees, both in IT and lines of business.
- Most organizations still devote the majority of their resources to maintaining legacy systems, which means they aren’t able to take full advantage of technology. A strong partner can help offload some of the responsibility of managing day-to-day operations, allowing IT to focus on driving innovation and solving the big business issues. Companies that are able to focus their digital transformation on re-envisioning the customer experience, reinvigorating operational processes, and rethinking business models experience the biggest gains in their businesses.
Digital technology has fundamentally changed the competitive landscape. While the overarching intention of digital transformation is to enable innovation, this will only happen if a company fully embraces new ways of doing business.