Digital Transformation

This article investigates digital transformation for older established brands who find it harder to remain competitive and relevant as the world goes digital. You know you need to modernize, let’s explore what that means without getting too deep.

Sometimes, to really grasp a multi-faceted idea we must wrap it in a story, so ponder this:

Imagine to save your beloved, the object of your affection, you must convince 100 larger outdoor pool owners within a year to invest in a retractable pool enclosure – it’s an automated pool covering.

Relax…breathe…no cold calls necessary.

You’ve been given a stack of decent leads – names, addresses, and phone numbers of ideal candidates who’ve at least shown mild-to-hot interest.

Why, you could Google Maps each property to get general specifics and rough quotes in-hand before approaching anyone – or more. Whether you personally have the skills, getting a web funnel setup to help generate leads and advertise isn’t extremely difficult. And there’s free/paid options online to create quality hard copy brochures pointing to web assets like informative videos and blogs.

How many other ways could ‘digital’ be used to reach your goal?

Now picture what the task was like for people/brands to sell relative products and services prior to 1991 when the internet went live to the world, or even for a time after when its uses were limited.

For a small chunk of history there were newspaper ads, classified ads, mail ads, television and radio commercials, but did the average person or small brand have access? You’d have to call, and get used to knocking on doors. In fact, there are probably STILL businesses in the outdoor pool industry today (as I write this it’s mid-2018) that haven’t digitized much.

They call. They mail you a brochure. Their website is outdated by a decade (usually providing FAR too much information), and if a sales person shows up at your door, they’re going to talk way too much and maybe have a clipboard or something with paperwork…

An Example of Digital Transformation

Let’s say you asked our team for help – to transform the way you demonstrate to potential leads the benefits of investing in a gorgeous retractable pool covering. We’d build you a comprehensive digital sales tool out of your tablet.

Rather than needing to sit and talk with pool owners without delivering value, your device could…

Visually walk viewers through specs of retractable enclosures – more effective than reading a brochure while listening to a salesperson spout unfamiliars – automated drive-system, assembly features, panel construction, etc. With new software you can SHOW them dynamic and impressive content.

Present in an interactive way. For example, we could design a quick Q & A session to get specifics then provide any number of data sets in visually appealing ways like mock-ups, costs/savings/revenue estimates, etc.

Design an augmented reality app to show the owner what the area will look like with an enclosure – closed in the winter, open in the summer – swimming year round.

What’s really happened between the pre-1990 era of business and today as we close in on 2020?

Your ability to communicate value has and will continue to, umm, shall we say DRAMATICALLY increase. Nearly ALL of the constraints of yesteryear are being toppled by innovative solutions.

3 Definitions of Digital Transformation

A concept as fluid as technology itself – there’s no universal definition so I used Google to shop around among the many digital agencies online. Here’s three we can juxtapose together and attempt to make some sense:

#1 The Enterprisers Project:

Digital transformation is the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business, fundamentally changing how you operate and deliver value to customers. It’s also a cultural change that requires organizations to continually challenge the status quo, experiment, and get comfortable with failure.”

#2 Centric Digital:

…the use of technology to increase the value or efficiency of any aspect of your business model. Digital transformation is a core element in business planning across every industry today. The phrase refers to the application of technology in a strategic framework directed toward achieving a company’s goals. Companies that succeed in this effort to become more digitally mature are those which combine strong leadership with agile adaptive patterns.

#3 Microsoft Business Partner Network lays it out in three points:

60%

By 2020, 60% of enterprises will develop and implement an organizational digital platform strategy.

$20 Trillion

IDC estimate of the total digital transformation value, which sits at roughly 20% of global GDP.

45%

By 2019, brands that go through the process will be earning about 45% of revenue from fresh new digital models.

What all this means for your brand is hard to say, as it’s going to look somewhat unique. All you know if you’re here with me is, you need to begin. The writing’s on the wall. And not just for smaller to medium-sized operations:

Listen to John Marcante, CIO of Vanguard:

Just look at the S&P 500. In 1958, U.S. corporations remained on that index for an average of 61 years, according to the American Enterprise Foundation. By 2011, it was 18 years. Today, companies are being replaced on the S&P approximately every two weeks. Technology has driven this shift, and companies that want to succeed must understand how to merge technology with strategy.”

You know your competitors are either already engaged in the process or so to be, if half of consumer revenue will be driven by digital within a few years. But, what’s the value look like?

The Value of Digitization

Those tackling transformations are often facing do or die scenarios.

Another pretty simple concept sweeping the nation is ‘retail going digital.’ How many boutique retail shops over the last decade have seen their in-store sales plummet to the point they can’t justify the overhead of a brick & mortar location?

Transitioning to ecommerce – while the process might sound simple enough, which it can be with the right team, for less savvy retailers it’s can be a nightmare. The prospect means completely redefining their business model and that degree of change can be too much for some older non-digital native brands.

Howard King once noted,

Businesses don’t transform by choice because it’s expensive and risky. Businesses go through transformation when they have failed to evolve.

Technically, it wasn’t the business, but the owners and people behind it that failed to evolve. Or, they did, but have yet to integrate and reflect that in their companies.

As the dust settles over the next decade or so, retail brands left standing with physical real estate will be those who adapted and shifted into successful digital brand owners!

What will those retail establishments look like?

How will B2C & C2B digital be woven throughout the experience?

How will ethics be involved with such powerful consumer technology?

Most companies far outside the realm of tech-design, programming, etc., don’t even try to understand. They’re carpenters, fashion designers, and so forth. As such, they turn to trusted agencies like Virtus Ventures, digital transformation teams or partners, who can help strategize and implement.

To simplify, most teams will initially approach your platform to look for opportunities along these lines.

Technology Strategy

Without trying to sound cliche, the simplest answer is we’re going to try and see where to start small – plan big. Shooting for the stars is fine, everyone’s after big ideas that perfectly design a business model around a unique experience, but to gain traction starting with small more attainable goals is ideal.

Creative UX Designs

The bar continues raising in terms of quality content and presentation. Expert designers  enhance your business through creative Branding, UX Design, and Content Strategy.

Product Development

Together with a design team, professional technicians leverage their knowledge/skills to build your brand through web, mobile and app development.

Marketing Solutions

Once your foundation and products/services are optimized, it becomes about building upon current SEO, SEM, and Social Media Marketing trends without being swept up into them.

To gain more depth of understanding from the perspective of our retail example, devour our article concerning Retail Digitization, where we plead with good brands to positively impact their customers’ journey, leverage smart business innovation and efficient processes, and power the next-gen retail experience.

Regardless of your industry, core business objectives aren’t going to change or transform anytime soon. However, they must be able to adapt to ever-evolving customer needs.

Wrapping Up

Our article isn’t designed to be a collegiate-level breakdown of digital transformation needs, methods, and philosophies. Instead, my goal was to reinforce what you likely already feel or understand, and provide a smidgen of helpful insight.

Perhaps you’re looking for specifics, places where digital transformation makes significant changes to business processes? Sure, here’s the 5 most common.

Legacy Data Organization: Like taking a 1995 Ford Mustang and putting a 21st century Tesla Model S powertrain under its hood – updating legacy data into simplified, streamlined, powerful and integrated data systems.

Human Bottlenecks: Erase the risk of a structure where individuals know the nooks and crannies, so to speak. No more nooks and crannies, though that doesn’t equal less brand personality. It means everything doesn’t crumble if one founder, designer, or original member leaves the company.

Communication Issues: Too many companies are still trying to get by on email mixed with more email and various elements of free chat/project management software. Imagine a unified, efficient, and company-wide communication and data collaboration network?

Guesswork Intelligence: How much of the so-called smarts directing your brand’s decisions is based on guesswork? Digital transformation fixes/optimizes outdated and broken business intelligence systems – making it far easier to reach goals.

Marketing Systems: Sure, we often here that all businesses are now media companies to a degree, but have you ever seen the types of marketing systems behind actual media companies? Data-empowered marketing, with smart automation.

Here’s to your success, and by all means, if you have a moment to spare, share a little bit about the challenges your brand is facing or has overcome.

Happy trails!

Matt

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