There is no doubt we are in the digital age. You only have to look around and see that almost everything we touch is affected by a digital focus. For example, the mobile and/or tablet are channels that we utilise more and more for access to the Internet, social media networking sites, latest news, games, purchases, banking and the list continues to increase in size.
With so many things being brought into our focus digitally there is a need for all businesses, large or small to ensure they have a strategy to meet the digital needs of their customers. This is where the challenge is. The new world of digital means substantial change to current business models and for many senior executives and business owners the pace of change is making it difficult for them to adapt.
The current business model has served us well and has been in place for at least 40 years. Change began at a relatively slow pace with the introduction of email back in the early nineties (for the masses) and then the Internet as a branding exercise in the late nineties. Things really started to explode in the mid naughties with social media beginning to encourage participation in conversations and before we knew it customers and suppliers entered a new era of closeness.
Heightened transparency is a direct result of the digital age, which means that as a company there are factors at hand that will expose what we’re doing to our prospects, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders with or without our control. The imperative therefore of a business in the digital age is to engage with all stakeholders and exploiting the benefits of connecting digitally.
At its most basic is the establishment of an Internet presence, which pretty much all business have these days. This must be augmented with a strategy that includes:
- Regular interaction with the media streams that stakeholders are likely to use, eg, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Youtube and other niche sites that are relevant to your market segment. If you don’t know how to utilise these mediums engage people who do.
- Understand what digital channels are used by your customers. No doubt this will include the above mentioned websites but in all likelihood will also include mobile and tablet based applications.
- Engagement with customers digitally at a level that contributes to you being able to produce a better product or service.
- The establishment of a framework that supports strategies, technologies and processes to systematically engage all the individuals of its ecosystem (employees, customers, partners, suppliers) to maximize the co-created value.
What if you don’t acknowledge that your customer is digital.
Businesses are faltering by the thousands because they didn’t or were not able to represent themselves with a digital focus and failed to appreciate that their customers are already operating on a new level. We only have to look at two local examples of how digital has fundamentally changed the way business is being done. Carsales.com.au and realestate.com.au have completely turned on its head how cars and property are marketed and sold. The clear losers in this area of digital revolution have been the major traditional media companies that relied heavily on advertising dollars to pay for the production of their daily newspapers.
Banks also quickly realised that to compete with new entrants in the financial and banking sector. they would need to get closer to customers digitally or go out of business.
Whether you are a bank or a small operator selling audio visual equipment you must engage with customers as a digital business or face extinction.
Digital means using new social methods to improve relationships with all stakeholders and to allow those stakeholders to be part of a community that contributes to your business being able to deliver a better result. In any digital strategy a conscious thought needs to be given to employees and how they interact with each other and customers.
What are your thoughts on this topic.