Traditional ways of doing business have changed. Or, to be rather brutally accurate, they have been disrupted.
Our world has been transformed with mobile, cloud, social, data, security, connected devices, to a technological paradigm that could not have been imagined prior to the introduction of the PC, which is not that many years ago.
The way we do things and the devices we use to get things done basically just got faster and smarter at Moore's law speed. Powered by cloud computing and mobile broadband and fuelled by the individual’s desire to be online all the time, the impact on the world of work and commerce has been profound.
What this means for enterprises is that it’s time to think differently; doing business in the digital age means dealing with digital customers, and this can mean a need to dramatically reshape the organisation’s operating model.
Changing technologies, changing philosophies
One of the most significant changes to enterprise IT procurement today has been the shift of the cost model. Organisations have gone from the traditional method of paying up front for technological tools, the CAPEX route, to the more agile, cost-effective OPEX model. This change in philosophy has been powered by pay-as-you-use technology services and is at the heart of how enterprises have to adapt and reinvent themselves.
The benefits that this brings to businesses are many. There is the immediate cost saving inherent to not having to pay set-up fees and to not actually having to buy the full technology kit in the first place. The on-demand usage model also lets companies operate in more flexible and agile ways, creating work/life balance advantages for their employees and enabling better interaction with customers.
When your customers are digitally savvy end-users themselves, they naturally expect the companies they buy from to be similarly engaged. That’s why progressive companies are now using social media tools to deliver customer service, or enhancing their overall value proposition with dedicated smartphone apps.
Fundamentally, enterprises now need to work smarter. Those companies that want to thrive and enjoy competitive advantage over rivals are those that embrace technology, harness its power and use it to improve their product and service offering.
The shift from digital enablement to digital dependency
Technology and in particular mobile devices and mobile Internet connectivity have become life essentials – to the point where some countries have even gone as far as making broadband an actual human right. So much of what we now do as individuals requires technology to make it happen and that we’ve become dependent on it.
Broadband is now faster than ever and pretty much ubiquitous, while cloud computing and the proliferation of smartphones and tablets has been extraordinary and pervasive. Wearable technology is set to go mainstream and the Internet of Things will see more connected devices in place around the planet than we can currently envisage.
Enterprises have no choice but to reinvent and change the ways in which they work and interact with customers. At operational level they need to change their structure and their value proposition needs to evolve.
The more demanding customer
There is a cyclical element to the changes the digital era has brought us; because technology has enabled organisations to work in whole new ways, customer expectation levels have risen. The smartphone connected customer is used to great service, direct to their mobile device wherever they are, so the enterprise is under increasing pressure to keep meeting and exceeding these expectations. It’s a whole new paradigm of customer expectation.
To take this a little further, the next batch of customers currently working their way through university are all Echo Boomers, or Generation Y. They are the most technologically advanced and expectant generation of individuals we’ve ever produced, and they literally do not know or remember a world without broadband, mobile devices, laptops and always-on connectivity. So enterprises need to plan ahead – customer expectation of your digital capabilities is only going to keep on rising.
But remember to keep the back door locked
All this increased mobility and device usage does of course carry a threat with it. While organisations can benefit hugely from reinventing themselves and carrying a digital offering, they must be mindful of the security challenges. Hackers and cyber criminals have also continued to evolve, so risks do remain and have multiplied.
Enterprise mobility management, a strong firewall on your network, in-depth mobile policy within the organisation and even secure corporate app stores are all ways that enterprises can enjoy the benefits of digital while minimising security risks.
With so many technological advances, disruptive thinking is key to an enterprise reaping the benefits quickly. Organisations need to disrupt themselves before they are disrupted, they need to embrace new technologies and adapt them to their organisation’s operations as this is the only way ahead.
Companies that move first will enjoy greater success over the coming decade. Enterprises that delay and continue to operate in time-honoured, traditional ways, will find themselves losing customers, market share and ultimately profitability.
By embracing the digital era and reinventing themselves as a digital enterprise, organisations can truly thrive. Technology used to be a support function within a company, today it is an absolutely essential element of a business strategy. By utilising digital tools to integrate customer service channels, companies can deliver far better customer service and keep customers coming back. Giving your customers more added value with smartphone apps tailored to their needs, will see your customer satisfaction levels increase.
These are some of the ways to forge ahead in the age of the digital economy. Disruptive thinking needs to also be applied to cyber security and protection from unwanted cyber penetrations of your systems, data and sensitive intellectual property.
A simple and effective start, on the security front, is to have professional penetration testing conducted on your organisations systems before someone else does.