Dinosaurs must hate what they’ve become. They used to a symbol of power. Giant beasts to be feared. Get in their way and they’ll crush you or eat you. But in 2014, we view dinosaurs as old, slow, lumbering beasts who instead of evolving to a higher level, became extinct. To the T-Rex, being called a dinosaur was a complement. To the modern business owner, not so much. But it’s a pretty accurate label for companies that haven’t adapted to the digital revolution.
As Forrester Research points out in their new report, “The Future Of Business Is Digital,” this isn’t about simply having a web presence or an app. Digital is a part of every aspect of business from how products are made sold, to the gathering of marketing data, even how your employees are tracked and paid. And, though some businesses have been forced to transition faster than others, there’s not a single area that can afford not to change.
It begins with your customers. Forrester says that by 2017, 74% of the US adult online population will own smartphones, and 46% will own tablets. This opens up a wide range of options that are easier and more cost-effective. Weight Watchers based their recent losses on apps like MyFitnessPal.
And did you see the news about Staples? They’re talking about not only closing stores, but streamlining the ones they have to concentrate on their internet business. Why not? They say 50% of their sales are already coming in online and when your main customer is a busy office manager anytime shopping and free delivery tops anything you can get at the store. Who wants to lug an industrial-size pack of toilet paper and six cases of paper to the car and up to the office.
Another thing that’s hurting Staples is the fact that their competition is more digitally savvy than they are. That would be Amazon. But the same thing is happening in all types of businesses. The Digital Masters are taking the lead with companies that are younger and smaller. After that, it gets really ugly.
As Digital Masters learn to integrate digital customer experience and digital operational excellence, their greater agility and effectiveness will cause profits to flow in their direction. Digital Dinosaurs built on scale advantages will be disintermediated, playing in the ecosystems that the Digital Masters control. The Dinosaurs will respond by merging, but scale won’t save them. Eventually, the Masters will buy them up, swallow anything valuable, solidify their data feeds, and sell the shells off to the highest bidder. It’s happening already — this scenario accurately describes Google’s acquisition and subsequent resale of the pieces of Motorola.
What’s standing in the way of digital progress? People.
It’s past the time to get serious about this. Forrester suggests you rate your company’s digital prowess on a scale from 0 (non-existent) to 4 (optimized) on both the customer side and the operational side. Be brutally honest with yourself. If you’re still doing payroll by hand, that’s a 0. A Facebook page that you updated twice in the past six months – give yourself a 1 for trying.
Face your fears, then hire the people you need or train the ones you have to start the move forward. Technology gives us all the ability to work smarter not harder and that’s something we can all get behind. Now go post something on Facebook.