by Rowan Gibson
Every single industry has a “digital destiny” – an inevitable and unavoidable future that will be shaped by the forces of digital technology.
There are no exceptions here. There’s no chance of escaping and somehow clinging on to the past. Just like previous waves of disruptive technological change throughout human history, nothing can possibly impede the accelerating momentum and destructive power of this digital tsunami. The choice therefore for every company is simple: find a way to ride the rising wave or be completely washed away by it. If there is one burning priority for your organization today it is how to drive digital innovation and transformation in everything your company does.
Creating Value in a New Age
Make no mistake: everything that can be digitized will be digitized. Everything that can be connected will be connected. Everything that can be automated will be automated. Robots and AI are already taking over many of the mundane tasks that have traditionally been performed by a human workforce. And data has undoubtedly become the new oil – the precious fuel that drives everything we do.
Today’s customers – both in B2C and B2B industries – expect and demand to be digitally empowered to the max. Therefore, businesses of every stripe will need to be driven by this new kind of customer primacy across their entire value chain. Or, put more appropriately, their ‘value web’ – the new industry ecosystems they have to build and maintain for delivering their particular value proposition to customers in a digital age.
Is your organization successfully transforming itself to adapt to the need for completely new kinds of value creation through digital-driven innovation?
Understanding the Digital Imperative
The sense of urgency in the C-Suite is already acute. According to recent research by Forrester, 93% of corporate executives believe digital technologies will disrupt their existing business model in the next year or two! Yet, only 15% of those executives believe their companies currently have the requisite digital skills to succeed in today’s transformation economy. Thus, the race is on for every organization to understand the deeply disruptive implications of digital change while simultaneously building the appropriate digital capability to potentially reinvent themselves from the ground up.
The risks of not doing so are becoming strikingly apparent to leaders across all industries. In one MIT survey, board members estimated that at least one third of their company’s revenues were under threat from digital disruption. A similar survey, conducted globally by Dell EMC, revealed that 53% of the respondents had already experienced significant disruption in their industries in the last 2 years, and 47% said their industries could be unrecognizable in just 3 years!
In fact, according to a survey by the Global Center for Digital Business Transformation, many senior business executives believe that nearly half of the top-ranked companies in their industries might be gone in just two or three years. Pierre Nanterme, former CEO of global consulting firm Accenture, stated that digital was the main reason why over half of the companies on the Fortune 500 have disappeared since the year 2000.
Gearing Up for Digital Transformation
Clearly, digital transformation cannot be treated as just another project or corporate initiative – a mere adjunct to the everyday business that can somehow be bolted on to what the company already does. Rather, it must be baked into the very DNA of the organization, driving a deep and transformational change – often to the core business itself – before the company’s existing business model becomes obsolete.
This kind of transformation doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a protracted journey that requires time, commitment, and perseverance. However, so were the learning journeys that organizations went through to institutionalize things like Total Quality Management, lean manufacturing, Six Sigma, or innovation itself. There is no quick fix for digital transformation. But it can be achieved.
For most organizations, digital transformation is so urgent and all-encompassing that it’s difficult to know where to start, how to clearly define the destination, and how to make sure you have a coherent plan for actually getting there over time.
One company that sheds light on how to lead this critical transformation is Caterpillar, the world’s largest construction equipment manufacturer. Over the last five or six years, Caterpillar has managed to make the strategic shift from “selling iron” to “selling smart iron”, rethinking and reinventing itself as a digital-centric organization.
To find out how this major company embraced its digital destiny, and to learn more about how to lead your own transformational journey, download my free eBook – “Five Proven Steps for Driving Digital Transformation: Learning from Caterpillar’s Journey” – and start moving things forward today.
Also, why not join me at our next exclusive 3-day TLN masterclass on “Leading Digital Transformation” in association with Alibaba Group? You’ll gain insights into exactly how Alibaba is pushing the frontiers of digital technology across their entire ecosystem, and you’ll learn how to apply these lessons in practical ways inside your own organization to drive digital innovation and transformation. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to network with other executives like yourself who are pushing the digital agenda forward inside some of the world’s top companies. Together, you’ll discover the secrets of success that can help you hone your skills as a digital leader and gain better traction in your efforts to make digital innovation and transformation happen across your company.
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Rowan Gibson ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is recognized as one of the world’s foremost thought leaders on innovation. He is the internationally bestselling author of 3 major books, an award-winning keynote speaker in 60 countries, and a cofounder of Innovation Excellence. His new book is The Four lenses of Innovation. On Twitter he is @RowanGibson.
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