The term ‘digital disruption’ is being bandied around a lot these days, with a new generation of young, agile, technology-driven companies drawing market share away from incumbents. This trend is affecting most, if not all, industry verticals, with some sectors more exposed than others.

Uber and Lyft

The global taxi industry, for example, has been losing market share since the introduction of ride-share platform operators such as Uber and Lyft. These are technology companies, not taxi operators. Yet it is the taxi they are disrupting. The same can be said for many new entrants in other industry sectors. It’s the technology, not the core product, that makes the difference.

Today’s lightning-fast business climate means that companies must either disrupt or be disrupted. The explosion of social media, mobile, big data, and cloud technology is sending shockwaves through every industry. Organisations that don’t want to be left behind need to adopt the habits of those that are leading the charge.

Disrupt or be disrupted

Some industry incumbents have cottoned onto this trend and have taken great strides to overhaul their internal processes and systems to remain competitive. Most importantly, many have identified technology as the key to maintaining market share. However, technology for its own sake will not help their cause. First, business leaders must make the business case, and then they need to drive the digital transformation.

Digital transformation process

This is not always an easy path. Digital transformation can go awry, or simply not live up to the expectations placed on them. There are a number of things organisations should do internally to make sure the digital transformation process is successful. First, they must define the desired outcomes. This will then inform which technology needs to be implemented and what processes have to be overhauled. Additionally, the organisational culture has to come up to speed with modern challenges.

On the technology side, hybrid IT is becoming the go-to infrastructure model to help organisations undergo a digital transformation to remain competitive in a market ripe for disruption. Many of the powerful but low-cost technologies employed in a hybrid IT model have levelled the playing field, letting lean businesses take on new technology while still making the most of existing infrastructure to outflank more established rivals.

6 best practices for successful digital transformation

1. Put the customer at the heart of everything

Whatever size or industry, companies that have succeeded at harnessing the power of digital technology to reinvent their business have one overriding characteristic in common. They all put their customers first. They recognise that in the era of social media, consumers rule.

2. Create a ‘fail fast’ culture of innovation

Digital first companies often cultivate a ‘fail early, fail fast’ culture. The risk of doing nothing can be far greater than the risk involved in failing from time to time, and then using those experiences to create a stronger end product. This strategy can provide a valuable learning curve for digital transformation programs and organisational change.

3. Rely on data-powered decision-making

While many organisations hesitate to utilise big data for fear of high costs or lack of know-how, digital-first businesses are quick to seize on all the data they can to measure, evaluate, and learn. Data plays a central role in digital transformations and should be used to aid the decision-making process.

4. Tap the power of the crowd

Crowdsourcing is a powerful form of market research that generates new product ideas, provides important product feedback and helps companies forge better connections with their customers. Tapping into the customer community should be a top consideration as it could inform the digital transformation process.

5. Find a technology partner

A technology partner can answer all the questions a company may have during the transformation process. They can also quickly augment IT departments and gain access to new resources.

6. Put mobile first

Mobile is at the centre of so many customer interactions now that it has become an essential element of any digital transformation. Building mobility in from the beginning means that the organisation can make greater use of it now and further down the track.