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SmartCompany: Seven tips to digitally transform your business

by Cara Waters, SmartCompany (original article)

We are in the era of digital transformation, according to Brian Solis, business strategist and futurist at Altimeter.

Speaking at NetSuite’s SuiteWorld conference in San Jose yesterday Solis outlined how businesses can undertake digital transformation.

1. Put humans first

Solis says too many businesses approach digital transformation from a technology perspective.

But humans are at the heart of digital transformation, according to Solis.

“At the end of the day it’s all about human beings and how they use technology to accomplish things,” he says.

“We are the people that we are trying to reach.”

2. Innovate don’t iterate

Solis says businesses don’t innovate as they stick within the confines of company culture and legacy systems.

“This is a time of great opportunity and opportunity takes great innovation to succeed, but we get caught up in iteration,” he says.

“We don’t want to question too much as we don’t want to make too many waves.”

3. Mobile technology is key

“A few years ago we were talking about [smartphones] as being the second screen,” Solis says.

“For many of us and for Millennials it’s the first screen now,” he says.

With the advent of the Apple watch, Solis says this could become the first screen, the smartphone is the second screen, a laptop or desktop is now the third screen and your television the fourth screen.”

4. “Digital Darwinism” isn’t a myth

Solis says businesses should beware of “Digital Darwinism”, which is the phenomenon when technology and society evolve faster than a business can adapt.

“We either adapt or we don’t,” he says. “We either react or lead, or we don’t.”

Solis says Digital Darwinism is the result of intentional business decisions that miss opportunities.

He cites the examples of Blockbuster, which was superseded by Netflix, and Borders, which has been eclipsed by Amazon.

“Behaviour always changes, this is Digital Darwinism in action,” Solis says.

“Digital Darwinism favours companies that at least try.”

5. Have empathy

Digital transformation is about empathy first and technology second, Solis says.

He says many employees have a hard time appreciating what needs to change because they don’t live their brand the way customers do.

“Part of this is having to make the case for change to people who don’t necessarily understand or have the empathy that you do,” he says.

6. Don’t forget about the customer experience

“The customer experience is a very human emotion, it is the sum of every engagement that a customer has with your business,” Solis says.

Solis cites research which shows that 98% of people say a poor customer experience means they have to go to another business.

“86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience, but only 1% of customers feel that vendors consistently meet their expectations,” he says.

As an example, Solis says look at how Uber and Lyft have disrupted the taxi industry.

“They’ve turned transportation not from getting from point A to point B but into an experience,” he says.

7. Your experience is unique

Solis recommends asking ‘What would my digital customer do?’ to kickstart your digital transformation.

“That journey is yours to define,” he says.

“Your relationship with your customer is different to everyone else’s.”

“All innovation starts with you.”

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