Although digitisation has had a revolutionary effect on our lives, many companies still adopt digital strategies which are outdated and largely ineffective. In an industry where new technologies, software and updates change the landscape daily, implementing successful digital strategies means using the latest techniques and methodologies, as well as being responsive to current digital threats.

For many businesses, embracing digitisation hasn’t been an easy road. Despite the reduced costs associated with automation and streamlined processing, as well as enhanced connectivity and increased client and consumer engagement, many industries have waited too long to take incorporate these features into their corporate solutions.

Indeed, a significant number of firms are still reluctant to embrace the newest digital methodologies and the strategies that can make them work. With many companies eager to secure their future in an increasingly digital age, the best – and only – solution is to understand, incorporate and embrace digitisation within your company and your industry.

What does digital mean?

Digitisation has brought new technology, new software and new possibilities to our fingertips, but it’s also given us a whole new language. As a result, people often use terms interchangeably or attribute definitions to tech terms which aren’t wholly accurate. One firm’s digital strategy may refer to their in-house IT hardware, whilst another’s may reference their online marketing campaigns. So, what does digital mean to you?

In fact, digital encompasses more than a hardware network or a marketing strategy. In its broadest sense, digital refers to the opportunities we now have to connect to one another. Using a handheld device, you have the capability to interact in real-time with friends on the other side of the world, launch a successful business, broadcast live videos to billions of watchers, share you location with service providers, check whether you’ve left the oven on at home, manage your finances and even monitor your pets.

Whilst we use these digital opportunities every day in our personal lives, many companies don’t utilise a fraction of the opportunities digitisation has thrown their way. With an arguably limited understanding of how digital is transforming the business landscape, it follows that many of the allegedly digital strategies currently being used commercially are doomed to failure.

Are you using outdated economic principles?

The economic principles which were well-established in the eighties, nineties and even the noughties are simply no longer cutting it, and they’re unable to reflect the changes digitisation has already made and is continuing to make. Many CEOs, directors and management level staff have begun their careers when these economic principles were highly effective. Indeed, major businesses have achieved their success by employing these strategies and leveraging risk, based on upon them.

However, digitisation has rendered them incomplete, at best, and obsolete, at worst. Traditional business models are floundering against a tidal wave of digital-based changes, and many have struggled to incorporate appropriate changes to their business model or processes.

Consumers now hold more power than ever, thanks to digitisation. With the option to buy from any vendor in the world, strip back products and only access the services you need, and the ability to publish positive or negative reviews to billions of users, digitisation has given consumers unprecedented power, and they’re not afraid to use it.

For many firms, this has been an unhappy consequence of digitisation. Rather than viewing these changes as part of the natural evolution of digitisation and finding ways to work within the new parameters, many businesses have attempted to manage their customers and corral them into old-fashioned or outdated B2C relationships.

As a result, digital strategy failure occurs and consumer have simply taken their custom elsewhere. With digitisation ensuring that even the smallest of businesses can compete on a global scale, consumers have no qualms or difficulties in finding what they need or want, even if your business can’t or won’t provide it. Whilst companies could once rely on being the nearest or most convenient option for their customers, ultra-fast deliveries and real-time stock availability have enabled businesses based on the other side of the world to deliver the same level of convenience than the store up the road.

With consumers effectively holding more of the cards, businesses must find a way to increase the value they offer their customers if they are to compete effectively in an era of digitisation. Whilst a digital marketing strategy may be innovative, original and attention-grabbing, it simply won’t be effective if your overall digital strategy doesn’t tap into the added value expectations of today’s consumers.

Are you part of a digital ecosystem?

Traditionally, industries were largely separated into distinct areas, with brands operating with one or another. However, companies and entire industries no longer operate in isolation. In fact, sectors, industries and organisations are more intertwined than ever before. Grocery stores have linked up with online giant, Amazon, to offer speedier deliveries and reduced prices, for example. Indeed, there are digital supermarkets which don’t have any physical store locations, thus highlighting the impact digitisation can have on one industry.

Cross-functionality is the key to finding suitable partners and affiliates. Whether they’re a competitor within the same industry or a seemingly unrelated business, if they can enhance what you’re offering your end-user, then it may be worth pursuing.

In the travel industry, for example, digitisation has cut a whole section of sector out and ensured consumers are in control. With no need for traditional travel agents, users simply book their own flights and accommodation, as well as managing transport to and from terminals. Using your smartphone or tablet, it’s as easy to book a taxi on the other side of the world as it is to get a ride from your local train station, so finding cross-functional partners is the only way to meet the consumer’s needs and avoid digital strategy failure.

Whilst digitisation undoubtedly brings threats to companies who still operating using traditional business models, attempting to protect your organisation and minimise the impact of the digital revolution won’t guarantee success or survival. Instead, embracing digitisation and finding innovative ways for your company to operate within a digital environment is the most effective way of preparing for the future and thriving in a digital era.