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How Enterprises Can Catch the Digital Train

26 Feb 2016 by Melissa Alexander

For businesses resolving to become fully digital, there’s no time to waste — the digital train is leaving the station and it’s not slowing down.

This train is one that businesses don’t want to miss. Gartner forecasts that deficient digital business competence will cause a quarter of businesses to lose competitive ranking by 2017, while digitally attributable revenue will double over five years. As technology elevates us to a higher digital plane, large enterprises must follow suit and transform themselves into entities that can operate fluidly in a digital world.

Here are a few ways they can harness the power of the digital realm.

Large enterprise: From digital followers to digital leaders

Accenture frames the digital transformation for enterprises this way: “Digital is unlocking a renaissance for large companies, allowing them to reconnect with what made them industry leaders in the first place.”

  • Assemble an A-team to challenge the status quo. Someone with insight from a different industry may be just the person to drive change. “Too often you can get into a paralysis mode of doing things the way you’ve always done them,” Panesar says. “Disruption happens through creativity and a willingness to challenge the status quo — the key is not to simulate your current or legacy approach.” McKinsey echoes the idea that all the skills needed for a digital transformation are unlikely to exist internally.
  • Get comfortable with the Internet of Things (IoT). Gartner estimates there will be 25 billion Internet-connected “things” by 2020 — a roughly $2 trillion economic impact — and IoT will be a major driver in the digital transformation, facilitating new business models.
  • Crowdsource, not workforce. “The crowd” is perhaps an enterprise’s greatest source of innovation, Microsoft says. Hyper-connectivity gives you access to people all over the world who can be your business’s best advocates.
  • Allow data to flow. More data exists than ever before, but what’s the value if it’s trapped in a silo? Accenture calls data the lifeblood of every digital organization and recommends companies “start treating data more as a supply chain, enabling it to flow easily and usefully through the entire organization.”
  • Consumerize. According to Gartner, one of the keys to success is being able to exploit emerging technologies from the consumer space for competitive advantage. Application development is a prime example.

But perhaps the biggest lesson of all for any business riding the digital wave? Digital business is not synonymous with IT, says Ken McGee, vice president and Gartner Fellow. “It is about revenue, value, markets and customers,” he says. “It is outward-focused. It is a metaphorical combination of front office, top line and downstage compared with back office, bottom line and backstage.”

This article originally appeared in Volume 2, Issue 1 of Technically digital magazine.