Digital transformation strategy: When and how is digital effective?

Digital transformation is radical. It is risky (whether you do or don’t commit). So, as well as having an agile, test and learn methodology to ensure the steps taken are a step towards the light rather than darkness – we like to ensure digital is deployed where it can add value.

In short, Digital is effective when it can remove barriers that slow our ideas, products and services down in the physical world.

  • Digital cares nothing about “time” as it travels at the speed of light
  • It is uninhibited by weight, mass, or gravity so is flexible and adaptable
  • It can replicate and repeat endlessly, practically without cost
  • It can connect 2 people, or 2 million people with your business for potentially the same investment

These raw capabilities of what digital can do underpin what it means to be “disruptive.

For first movers, the simple act of identifying how to dematerialise a physical process into a digital one – the invention of the capability itself is enough to win customers:

  • Amazon worked out how to let you search for ANY book, without a store, stock room or even owning the book in the first place. 
  • eBay worked out how to let anyone, sell anything, to anyone without ever opening a store or ever meeting each other. 
  • AirBnB worked out how to run a hotel business, without owning a single piece of property.
  • Uber became a taxi service, without owning a taxi

But importantly:

  • Amazon still ship physical books
  • eBay sellers still require physical delivery services
  • Someone still has to supply AirBnB with the physical rooms
  • And someone has to buy the car that you hail with Uber

However, our customers do not need to transform “everything and anything” they do, they are not ugly caterpillars needing to become butterflies.

Our customers need to know what their crucial physical advantages are, but equally, where that same physicality is destructive either to margins, customer satisfaction or employee productivity.

It is our role to work with our customers to discover, test and execute a strategy that understands what must, should or could be better executed digitally, and what should remain in its present form – whether that be for customer, legal, operational or cost reasons.

In 2016 electronic book sales FELL 16% while physical book sales grew by the same 16% margin. eBook sales never reached more than one third of the total market.

Print is most certainly not dead.

At the same time, the number of Book Stores on the high street is rapidly approaching zero in mainstream markets.

The physical book store, is in practice dead.

“digital by default” is not an effective strategy.

Printing and posting everything is not an effective strategy.

We know this, we do both – and we do it harmoniously to get the best result because we are not blinkered to one mantra over another.

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