Today, nearly every company has some kind of digital strategy in place. Whether the aim is to drive product innovation, become more efficient, or improve the customer experience, a digital strategy can make a tremendous impact on a company’s level of success. But there’s a difference between having a digital strategy that achieves purely tactical results and one that is transformational.
I often ask customers if they have a digital strategy. Usually, they are very quick to describe their IT and cloud strategies. However, a digital strategy that is transformational is so much more than a cloud strategy. Companies need to look carefully at their digital strategies to be certain their efforts are focused on transforming their businesses and not simply improving existing operations.
In order to transform a business from its current mode of operation to something completely different requires agility — the ability and desire to change quickly based on shifting conditions. When an organization is agile, it is able to deal with any disruptions that may occur. In the best of circumstances, a company can become the disrupter of its own industry by shifting the status quo and moving beyond the current practices its competitors depend on. While competitors may focus on making incremental improvements, an agile organization sees opportunities beyond current methodologies and pursues new ways of achieving goals. The most effective changes have proven to be those that make use of uniquely conceived ideas that diverge from what is considered the norm.
Firms that compete in the business of information with products such as photos, movies and music need to be particularly agile and remain aware of breakthroughs on the horizon. Classic examples of companies that were left behind by disruptive events include those that were at the top of their industries but either resisted change or failed to recognize new developments taking place outside of their existing business models.
Kodak lost its leadership position and was forced to change the focus of its business with the advent of digital photography. Blockbuster went under because it held to its physical distribution model when internet bandwidth changed the ability to access films without visiting the store. And EMI lost market share when Apple and others changed the way users purchased music.
It’s difficult to conclude whether these companies believed the disruptive competitors would fail because the existing methods were too entrenched to be uprooted, or if they simply didn’t recognize what was occurring in their own industries. Regardless of the reasons for their failures, the common lesson to be taken from their stories is that no company or mode of business operation is safe from disruption.
The key element of disruption is the nature of its unpredictability, which can come as a surprise to entrenched interests. In the information business, disruption has most often arisen from agile companies leveraging the internet in ways not previously seen. And it’s important to look at unconventional sources of disruption. Competitors may be the most obvious entities to keep an eye on; but serious challenges can come from business partners, customers, suppliers, or any external stakeholders.
Digital transformation is being pursued in every industry. And since Level 3 is in the information business, you can bet we are focused on supporting our customer’s digital strategy, with continued investments in our Adaptive Network Control platform with SDN (Software Defined Networking) and NFV (Network Functions Virtualization. These are tools we believe facilitate agile networking.
We’re aggressive in making our company agile so we’re able to both be transformative in our business practices and also provide direction to our customers in their efforts to execute their own digital transformations.
Keep an eye on this blog in the coming weeks for more insights into how we’re helping our customers realize their digital transformation strategies.
With 17 years of experience in the product marketing of Internet and WAN services, Claudio Scola has seen many waves of exciting trends transform the industry and the future is just as exciting now as it was back then. When he’s not working, he’s often making something or playing songs on the guitar or ukulele with his four kids.