Adapt or die. Companies need to respond – and respond quickly – in order to survive in the coming age of Digital Darwinism. A wave of groundbreaking technologies is hitting the market at a rapidly increasing pace, fundamentally disrupting the ways in which we communicate, consume, and stay informed about the world. Smartphones, wearables, and the Internet of Things – an increasing number of devices are constantly connected to the Internet; an estimated 14 billion worldwide today. This dynamic is equally fantastic and intimidating for marketing decision makers: As the numbers of connected devices skyrocket, the amount of touch points between companies and consumers keeps growing at an exponential rate.
Things are speeding up, and “digital transformation” emerges as the major buzzword of the moment, but make no mistake: The term “buzz” may signal a short-term process over a foreseeable time span; the kind of process that fits nicely into budget plans and agendas. The only problem is, that’s not true. Because digital transformation is a continuous, sustainable process that will require adaptation and adjustment again and again over the next few years, probably decades. A major paradigm shift is on order, and marketers need to change their fundamental mind set to keep up with these shifting times – as the pace of change intensifies.
The clock is ticking: Companies need to face the challenges posed by digital technologies right now. These challenges affect internal company structures just as much as societies and lifestyles on a broad scale. Companies need to be prepared for new technologies and changes in consumer behavior and come up with strategic, forward-thinking responses on all levels of their businesses.
In other words: The digital revolution calls for a digital evolution on behalf of companies.
And as is often the case with evolution, those who fail to adapt to changing realities, may soon find themselves facing extinction. But those who respond in a quick, flexible, and innovative manner will find themselves looking at a new world of opportunity. As we speak, entire industries are shaken to the core by digital disrupters such as Airbnb, Spotify, Uber, to name but a few. All these new players on the scene have one thing in common: A “digital mindset.” Without hesitation, they seized their opportunity, recognized the new needs and demands on a market and consumer level, then successfully created viable service platforms for a changing society.
In the process, the following three criteria are emerging as the main prerequisites for mastering digital transformation:
- an acceptance of the new digital reality, often associated with a corresponding change in the mentality of decision makers,
- a willingness to make investments and take risks, and
- the implementation of the necessary technological framework.
Surf or Drown: Riding the Giant Digital Wave
But as we speak, more and more industries are demonstrating the humungous potential unlocked by massive amounts of data: In healthcare, Big Data is powering early detection of cancerous cells. In finance, it optimizes risk controlling. In manufacturing, data fuels process optimization. And in marketing, it opens up a new level of personalized customer engagement.
The Bottom Line: Digital Transformation is Real (and Here to Stay)
No matter how you slice it – digital transformation has long since become a digital reality. And it’s moving forward at a fast pace, whether companies decide to get in the driver’s seat and take active control, or leave the wheel to somebody else. Ultimately, these are the two only options: Embrace digital transformation with all its opportunities and associated risks – or watch the market and consumers pass you by as you sit back and wait for it to be over.
Because as we said, digital transformation is here to stay. And it’s only just beginning. In this blog series, we will be covering the process from three marketing-related angles: the consumers and their purchase and communication habits (Connected Consumers), companies and industry players (Digital Darwinism), and the new wave of technologies helping companies connect with their consumers (Marketing Automation).
This way, we will be able to keep track and make the best of digital transformation together. We look forward to bringing you the next feature in this series: “The Connected Consumer – Marketing to Networked Customers.” Stay tuned!