We asked 50 futurists, professionals employed to review trends and develop strategy, to identify and rank the top five ways they believe digital transformation will drive value generation between now and 2020. Here are their top five answers:
Accelerates speed to market
Strengthens competitive positioning
Boosts revenue growth
Raises employee productivity
Expands ability to acquire, engage and retain customers
These top five value generators offer significant business advantages; but if your organization can achieve them faster than your competitors, there is a bonus advantage. We call it the Ax2 phenomenon (advantages have advantages). Not only do digital leaders realize competitive advantages before others, but they also have the advantage of insights from new data, which leads to new actions and new insights not yet understood or possible for laggards.
Research In Motion (RIM), the progenitor of the Blackberry, responded slowly to Apple’s launch of the iPhone. Years passed before RIM responded with its first smartphone. During this time, Apple worked at “digital speed” to improve its iPhones and the iOS operating system, and hundreds of thousands of software applications were developed for it. Each of these versions provided additional insights into consumers and their behaviors. The Ax2 phenomenon enabled Apple to rapidly widen the gap between leader and laggard, a competitive advantage that proved impossible for RIM to overcome.
Executives must closely watch the innovation efforts of competitors, and recognize that it is not only the new products and services that are being introduced that can be differentiating but also the data they glean from new innovations that can spawn additional advantages.
Information dominance is the strategic imperative of the 21st century. The good news for executives is that investing in digital technologies to gain information dominance makes sense as the return on investment for digital technologies averages nearly 50% among survey participants, but jumps to an astounding 230% for the top 25%.
Achieving information dominance involves understanding the data required to achieve competitive advantage, and then collecting and analyzing it to glean business meaning faster than the competition. Information dominance, however, is meaningless unless it results in actionable insights, which lead to appropriate actions, at the right time and place. It’s not the ability to collect and analyze data faster; it is the ability to understand and act on it faster. Businesses that can “understand and act with speed” will dominate those that are slower.
In today’s age of hyper-digital transformation, enterprises must digitally transform and implement OILS (optimized information logistics systems) that can respond and change with self-sustaining business agility. These abilities take more than digital technologies; they require a new way of thinking, which is revealed in our data on digital leaders:
Digital leaders recognize and respond to underlying market forces, and are budgeting and planning to implement specific business strategies and digital technologies in specific sequences to maximize ROI and competitive advantage.
Digital leaders recognize the impact of digital technologies on the expectations of consumers and markets. These expectations are speeding the tempo of operations beyond human time to digital time. The demands for digital time require humans to upgrade IT environments and augment their capabilities with AI and robotic process automation (bots) to enable mass volumes of transactions to be processed in milliseconds in order to support real-time and mobile environments.
Digital leaders develop a digital doctrine and strategy to unify and guide all business and technology strategies, tactics and investments and provide a shared frame of reference across their organization.
Digital leaders are exploiting the Ax2 phenomenon. The Ax2 phenomenon enables enterprises to gain new and unique business insights earlier than their competitors, leading to competitive advantages that result from the collection and analysis of data not yet available to digital laggards.
Digital leaders identify the digital technologies they expect to have a significant impact on their businesses across the three digital transformation ages spanning 2016 to 2025. These technologies are not all created equal in their business impact, and some are still not ready for prime time, but are maturing fast. As a result, it is critical to carefully time the adoption and implementation of digital technologies in accordance with the age in which they will deliver maximum ROI and competitive advantage.
First and foremost, digital leaders understand the reality and degree of impact that digital technologies are having on their customers, and their ability to compete. They recognize the pace of change and are aligning their strategies and budgets in ways that will provide them with competitive advantage now and in the future.
Watch my latest video on digital technology trends: