Organisations pursuing a path to digital are all at different stages on their journey. And their combination of strategies will be unique. Nevertheless, there are key four behaviours that can help any business successfully embrace digital, regardless of how they're approaching the transition:
1. Strategies guided by human understanding
Businesses need to make sure they have a solid grip on the needs, wants and motivations of their customers.
Every bet a business makes is fundamentally a bet on the human behaviour of their customers. The only way to make better bets is to have a better understanding of users and identify what's driving them.
Once an organisation has that insight, and it can genuinely say it knows its customers really well, it can go on to become truly meaningful to those people. Without that understanding, companies risk being seen as passive and they can't forge the same connections to users.
One way to achieve that understanding is to use anthropology to better understand consumer behaviour.
Take supermarkets, for example: when we researched shoppers and their in-store behaviour, they told us they like to buy healthy products and use shopping lists. However, in the post-work evening rush, we found they just want to quickly pick up something - their behaviour is fundamentally different.
By addressing the gap between aspiration and reality in consumer behaviour, organisations become both more useful and more meaningful to their customers.
2. An entire business working in an agile way – not just IT
'Agile’ is a term that many working in IT will be familiar with but it may be less well-known outside that department. To really do digital successfully, organisations need to change that.
In digital, organisations should be able to iterate quickly, pivoting their products and services to deliver a better customer experience whenever they need to.
Agile can really help with that rapid change but in too many businesses its use is siloed. For example, in the IT department, agile is often used for software development and product delivery. But elsewhere in the business, it's the typical waterfall approach – organisations create a one-year plan and then work towards delivering it.
Rather than a siloed approach, digital organisations should be moving towards cross-functional teams that aren't divided by business unit boundaries. Instead they embrace an agile way of working across the company.
3. Data treated as a perishable asset – use it now, don’t wait
The falling cost of storage has made it tempting for businesses to store everything indefinitely and worry about querying it at some point in the future. However, digital requires organisations to look at their data in a smarter way.
Data is a perishable asset. Its value declines easily. If organisations don't analyse data directly at the moment they get it, they risk creating a data swamp: huge amounts of data accumulate and the business isn't sure how to get value from it. The longer the data remains unused, the harder it becomes to interrogate it in a meaningful way.
Organisations need to manage their data, analyse it and understand it when they collect it, rather than leaving it in a store to collect dust.
In short, organisations need to get used to actively engaging with their data.
4. Seeking out new business models, rather than simply seeing digital as a means to cut costs
Identifying new business models is perhaps the hardest essential behaviour of digital for organisations to achieve. But it's vital to ensuring successful digital transformation.
New business models create new products, services and more value for the customer. Most organisations want to focus on building a great customer relationship – they would much prefer to be a leader in customer engagement than in cost. Adopting new business models is the only way to achieve that.