Disruption and delusion – the never-ending journey of digital
3 digital disruption delusions to avoid along your transformation journey
True, customer-centric digital transformation is continuous, evolving, and never-ending
Many businesses acknowledge that they didn’t accurately predict the impact that digital disruption would have on their organizations and industries.
However, we believe it’s important that organizations don’t misconstrue their journey to transformation as just focusing on disruption, and/or seeing the process as finite/complete because of initial success, for example, by:
- trying to find holistic or single ‘solutions for disruption’ (which are often still ambiguous or undefined) in order to capitalize on its opportunities
- mistakenly believing that the digital transformation process has a finite end point
- underestimating the importance of keeping customers at the heart of their digital endeavours; organizations should continuously look to unlock and action key insights from their customers in a manner that competitors can’t easily surpass − breakthrough opportunities will result from a cadence of relentless experimentation and improvement
Many leaders remain convinced that they need to create a significant game-changing disruption ‘event’
According to our recently published NTT 2019 Digital Means Business Benchmarking Report, a restructure of the business and operating model is viewed as the primary definition of digital transformation for 71.1% of organizations in the early stages of the process.
Some organizations continue to try to mimic those disruptors who’ve brought about large-scale change. But simply trying to play ‘catch-up’ isn’t always necessary and doesn’t in itself constitute disruption. However, as their thinking around business disruption matures, we’re seeing leaders starting to realize that useful value comes in the form of incremental process, product/service, and experience-based disruption.
Some leaders (13.7%) are also being lured into thinking that because they’re seeing some success with digital efforts, their digital transformation journey is ‘complete’
Other organizations believe that because certain initiatives have shown outputs or outcomes that have optimized legacy business processes, they feel that they’re ‘on track’ and there’s not much more they need to do.
These are misinformed perspectives because digital transformation, by nature, is continuous, iterative, evolving, and never-ending.
- Disruption happens constantly, in different ways, and success requires that organizations change their ways of work by continuously adapting to both external and internal influences.
- In addition, as digital transformation continues to evolve almost on a daily basis, those that believe they’re nearly or entirely complete are likely to have missed opportunities or, indeed, the fundamental need or reason for them to digitally transform within their particular business.
A significant number of organizations think that they’ve sufficiently transformed their customer experience programs to identify and deliver customer-validated, incremental value in a repeatable manner
True disruption comes from an organization’s ability to solve meaningful customer problems.
In our experience, organizations who prioritize customer-led transformation over product/service or technology-led transformation, very quickly elevate themselves both in terms of value and competitive advantage. This, however, raises a concern, as our research reveals that organizations currently see bringing new products/services to market of higher importance than improving customer experience.
- Delivering improved products and services without considering the customer dilutes value.
- Customer-centric transformation provides long-term and potentially disruptive value that’s both meaningful and sustainable.
Steps to success
Those organizations who are making the greatest strides in driving their digital transformation journeys:
- accept that disruption isn’t an event with a defined beginning and end-point, but rather an iterative process based on learning, adaptation, and changing people’s mindsets and behaviours
- look beyond the complex and often vague, academic task of formulating plans to address disruption
- focus on relevant, known problems and identify and implement pragmatic initiatives which help to create smaller steps to disruption ─ over time these incremental improvements help them to transform
- pursue customer-driven disruption and continually look to unlock and action key insights from their customers
- Ponder this quote by the late Steve Jobs, chairman, CEO, and co-founder of Apple: ‘Some people say, “Give the customers what they want." But that's not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they're going to want before they do … People don't know what they want until you show it to them.’
Remember that no matter how trivial your initial successes may seem, this behaviour contributes to helping you treat digital as an integrated journey ─ something that unfolds and continually iterates. Longer-term thinking with shorter-term action which recognizes change as a process paves the way to ideas and approaches that have the potential to transform the world.
For more insight and analysis of this topic, download the Executive Guide to the NTT 2019 Digital Means Business Benchmarking Report.
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Innovation Lead: Digital Advisory, NTT Ltd.