A Digital Quick-Start Guide

A black and white image of a piece of coal next to a diamond

What is the next big thing? Nobody really knows. Nevertheless, today’s companies are constantly under pressure to discover it. The digital space, of course, is rife with magic bullets to help them easily achieve success—or so it would seem.

If truth be told, chasing the digital holy grail can jeopardize management focus on what’s really important—digital transformation.

Simply put, you can find whole books on how companies can accelerate digital transformation. But before you start planning, you should make one simple commitment: build digital into every project.

To help you do this, here is a short quick-start guide. Every opportunity to capture the creative power of digital technologies should stand up to the following four realities of competing in a digital world.

  1. Customer experience is value: In the digital era, products and services are no longer effective for gaining and retaining customers. Customer experience is vital. Customers need control over a seamless link of the physical and digital worlds. Empathy, deep contextual appreciation, and co-creation are essential factors in achieving that connection.
  2. Customers are moving targets: Customer attention in the digital world is short-lived. Brand loyalty is fragile. New mobile and social experiences are introduced at fleeting Internet speed. Customers switching between competing value propositions is the rule, rather than the exception. Data and analytics allow companies to successfully staple themselves to their customer’s digital self to stay relevant and appealing.
  3. Business ecosystems co-create value: No one organization possesses all the data, digital skills, and capabilities to win over today’s demanding and dynamic digital customer. Therefore, ecosystem competition is the new standard. Businesses partner with each other by bringing their respective strengths together to grow the pie, not just split it.
  4. Digital platforms boost value co-creation: Your digital innovation strength is limited by your ability to combine your digital assets with those of others. Today’s most valuable and successful business ecosystems are enabled by digital platforms. Carefully managed architectures of reusable digital assets can empower you to capture opportunities faster than your competitors.

All four of these factors are effectively addressed by big-bang disruptors when they deploy digital technologies. For a solid competitive edge in the digital world, you need to do the same.

Use these four guidelines as your yardstick the next time you appraise an innovative idea or assess a project proposal. Challenge your project teams to achieve all four goals.

Consistent and systematic digital transformation is the key to compete significantly in the digital world. To succeed, you need to learn and build digital capabilities progressively, project by project.

7 responses on “A Digital Quick-Start Guide

  1. Jacques X. SEGERS LYSSENS

    Hi ! Stijn

    It is a pleasure to attend this “Take the Lead” course. I am still active as a consultant namely in the acquisition & transfer of company field. In this context also, digital transformation is becoming a critical issue and I must admit this course is so helpful to get a better understanding of what’s all about when we speak about digital transformation and the impact in the organisation. A lot of people still confound digital automatisation with digital transformation ! Transformation to win at digital speed is now mandatory.

    Thks for your key input.

    1. luc Vanbecelaere

      Hi Jacques ,

      Valuable comment. I read an article referring to this gap as the difference between Digitalisation and Digitising. The first encompases the complete business model including the organisation while the second is automating the current way of working . Similar to your comment.


  2. Helga Dekempeneer

    Valuable analyses of the digital transformation. Old school companies are not lost yet. We need to reinvent and offer digital solutions to our customers. What we do wrong is that we tend to develop ourselves too much of our digital solutions. The co creation and platform are key to success and need to be adopted fast. We can learn from agile start ups here.

  3. Dirk Adriaenssens

    This idea of co-creation and co-competing is completely changing the traditional business model “us against the rest” that I used to know. This constantly challenges the organsiation to reflect on your own identity and complementarity with the partners of your Ecosystem.

  4. Frank Ostermeier

    Dear Stijn, the revolutionary part of, in particular to the3rd and 4th component is the aspect of collaboration versus competing. I am curious to further discover during the ‘deeper dive’ in the upcoming module on how to manage with this ‘dilemma’ – the opportunity (added value) which collaboration can/will bring versus the danger/fair such collaboration could facilitate your (future) competitor in surpassing you.

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