Article: Surviving the era of ‘Digital Darwinism’

Life @ Work

Surviving the era of ‘Digital Darwinism’

In an era where technology and society are evolving faster than businesses can naturally adapt, what must organizations do to address the strategic challenges posed by this digital revolution?
Surviving the era of ‘Digital Darwinism’

Here comes the digital transformation age!

Digital transformation sounds much more than a buzzword in today’s super connected world. It is one of the most important reforms being witnessed all around us. Just like Darwin’s theory of evolution - the rise of the species of organisms - its development through natural selection of inherited variations enhancing individual’s ability to survive and grow; digital Darwinism too has taken its own shape in evolution. The propensity of growth of this era of digital Darwinism is evidently embedded in everything we do: from improving the way we live, work, and experience the world around us. And for the first time, the change is a two-way street. People aren’t just using products and services, but feeding information for accessing them back for multiple uses.

“Big corporate companies are growing more vocal and active around the issues of customers’ expectations. Apple went far in devoting significant time and resources to explain its decision to the public when it refused to give the US government it’s capability to decrypt the data on an iPhone. That level of discourse was no accident at all. It’s about demonstrating what the company will and won’t do as part of their partnership with customers, governments and the public - the first step on a path toward defining a formalized corporate social contract.”

The phenomenal progression of digitization is forcing businesses to look beyond the world and transform philosophies, models, and systems. The benefits are huge; costs can be cut by up to 90% and turnaround times improved by several orders of magnitude. However, customers have been spoiled. Thanks to companies such as Apple and Amazon, they now expect every organization to deliver products and services swiftly, with a seamless user experience.

So, how can organizations survive, manage and prosper in such an era of digital Darwinism?

Let’s take a look at the top 3 critical decisions that today’s CEOs must make to address the strategic challenges posed by this digital revolution.

1. Integrate digital technology into your business strategy

Think digital – integrate it into strategic planning. This helps to create innovative offerings and transform customer relationships. By integrating digital technology, organizations can demonstrate excellence even for basic services. Companies that digitize processes can improve their bottom lines and delight customers with much more agility. A bank digitized its mortgage-application and decision process, cutting the cost per new mortgage by 70% and slashing time to preliminary approval from several days to just one minute.

As per a recent study done by Accenture, companies in multiple sectors have been investing heavily in digital technologies to propel growth. However, most of them are not leveraging these technologies effectively enough to enhance the efficiency of their core businesses. Only 13% of them are getting both cost-saving efficiencies and business growth from these digital investments. To fully reap the benefits, it is imperative that companies approach digital transformation as a business strategy instead of a one-time process implemented on an ad hoc basis. It needs to be a complete, end-to-end structured process that not only leverages new technologies but also addresses the need to develop a digitally-enhanced and customer-driven business strategy.

2. Manage expectations of customers under new corporate social contract

Businesses have to be thoughtful on how they can use technology to meet the expectations of their customers. With such an agile ecosystem, the customer range includes employees, clients, citizens, related network organization and even governmental bodies. All of them expect partnerships, based not only in terms of company’s products but its goals and its values. Hence, managing what they want has topped the priority list. 

Big corporate companies are growing more vocal and active around the issues of customers’ expectations. Apple went far in devoting significant time and resources to explain its decision to the public when it refused to give the US government it’s capability to decrypt the data on an iPhone. That level of discourse was no accident at all. It’s about demonstrating what the company will and won’t do as part of their partnership with customers, governments and the public - the first step on a path toward defining a formalized corporate social contract.

3. Build capabilities – the sooner, the better!

Creating a center of excellence with skilled staff to maximize economies of scale is a must. Digitization skills are not found in abundance. The need for new skill sets and roles of data scientists are high in demand. In current times where digitizing processes can make or break the innovative circuit of the company, in-house capability needs to be scaled up as quickly as possible. Owing to these facts, the first managers selected to lead the transformation should be carefully chosen, well trusted and retained with a commitment for a longer duration stay. Also, the team that has the skills needed to build the required technology components should be developed and structured in a way that they can be reused across processes for generating the maximum result.

A digital business requires much more than technology. It consists of critical components of the right pool of leadership capabilities, talent, skills and new set of business models. It is fundamentally altering the nature of competition. As digital opportunities and challenges proliferate, deciding where to place new bets is the key differentiating factor for all leaders in this era of digital Darwinism. 

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Topics: Life @ Work, Technology

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