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August 06, 2015
Go all-in with digital
By: John Cassidy

Digital is the new black. The last month here in Asia has seen a winter’s bloom of stories about digital disruption and the innovative new potential of schemes in the private and public sector. It seems that everyone is claiming to be going digital.

While the enthusiasm and the intent is unquestionably there I see well-intentioned digital programs come unstuck or fail to deliver because companies wish the ends of digital disruption, without enabling the means to get there. Going digital means redrawing organizational and industry boundaries and, of course, stepping on a few toes.

The hardest part about launching a radical digital strategy was getting C-suite buy-in. Fortunately, that’s no longer the case. These days, industry leaders are all too aware of the transformative power of digital technology. In our latest research, we found nine in 10 executives had clear expectations for how digital could enhance their business. Meanwhile almost 90 percent claimed their companies had made significant inroads leveraging digital technologies in the past year with 80 percent appointing a Chief Digital Officer.

And who wouldn’t want to go digital, with our research also suggesting digital technologies could add as much as US$1.36 trillion to the world’s top 10 economies in the next five years. No wonder the C-suite has woken up to the benefits of going digital.

Unfortunately, it’s in the details of the digital strategy that many businesses come unstuck. It’s not uncommon to see businesses launch a few apps, start collecting some customer data and creating the veneer of a truly digital organization. If only the path to becoming a true digital business was that simple. Cracks start to appear when you look to the business case, user experience across these digital assets and joined up use of data across the business.

Equally as frustrating is watching great businesses pour time and money into going big on digital only to relegate their strategy to the bottom draw after “quick wins” fail to materialize.

I’m sure these scenarios come as no surprise to anyone who’s lived through the challenges of a business transformation program of any sort. Going digital is no different.

Digital strategies are tough to implement, especially in large, established companies where there are plenty of status quo supporters, legacy technology and existing physical channels. But when it all comes together the benefits are obvious: new revenue opportunities; speedier introduction of products and services that customers actually want, and rapid response to their demands.

Transforming an entire enterprise into a digital business is no modest feat. True digital transformation calls for new rules, new roles and new processes across every corner of the organization. It’s called “disruption” for good reason. My challenge to any business who claims to be a digital business is to detail how your strategy aims to reimagine and remake your organization. Are you leading on digital or just playing catch up?

John Cassidy is Accenture Australia’s Digital Strategy Lead

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