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3 Tips for Brands to Stay Afloat Amidst the Tides of ‘Digital Darwinism"

23 Sep 2016

Now who could have thought an iconic brand like Kodak would go bankrupt? Remember the tagline ‘Kodak Moment’ - It even made into the lexicon of the common population when any personal event was considered ‘snap-worthy’! 

Similar goes the story of GM or General Motors, when it filed for bankruptcy in 2009.

How about Polaroid, Chrysler, Hummer, American Airlines?

Yes, them too!

All these very successful brands and household names, who flaunted their products and ideas; and ruled their niches for years ; were deprived of their hard earned brand image, popularity and finances – and were left to fall flat on their faces.

How did that happen? Well, basically – they succumbed to the pressure of ‘change’ or they were not prepared to ride the onslaught, brought about by the ‘new waves’.

Ok, let me get off the metaphors and start explaining here…

These successful brands were the victim of a phenomenon called ‘Digital Darwinism’!

‘Digital Darwinism’ is the condition faced when technology and society evolve faster than one’s ability to adapt (Rian Solis).

And in the age of ‘Digital Darwinism’ - the one we are living right now - Technological ‘Disruption’ in the market seems to be the norm; which is rapid and is being fired from all corners. It frequently changes the face of the market, sometimes in the name of Social Media; sometimes as smart phones; wearables; Apps; Content marketing or lately in the name of Machine Learning or Artificial Intelligence (AI). The businesses and brands have two choices… either ‘adapt’ or ‘burn out’!

To keep up with the pace, businesses have this tendency to invest resources and budgets in current technologies; which is without a doubt, a logical decision but not a complete solution to the challenge.  

The crux lies in understanding - How the customers communicate through these innovations; how such disruptive technologies affect consumer behavior, values, expectations and decision-making; and how could the leadership create new business models to naturally adapt; to the ever-evolving technology and the society.

Here are a few tips for businesses and brands to survive and shine in this disruptive age of Digital Darwinism: 

1. Crafting Meaningful Customer Experience

With the proliferation of technology in businesses and online spaces, ‘digitization’ is increasingly becoming the primary road for consumer journeys.

To convert these new and growing masses of digitally empowered consumers - who will give brands a run for their money – a captivating and meaningful digital experiences should be offered.

Brands that lack the understanding of customers experience with them; miss the opportunity to make that strong connection. Often times, businesses are hammering on their sales, marketing and branding efforts, but fail to listen to their customers’ pain points, and that is enough to jeopardise their revenue streams and brand image.

When the customers build a positive and an empowering association with a brand, they are more likely to identify themselves with the brand, its values and culture. They will be more tempted to share their experiences with others and return for repeat business.  

2. Digital Transformation –Tackling Disruptions

Innovations in technology, devices, communication platforms and networking /collaborating mediums have drastically shaped how the consumer behaves –and it is evolving as we speak.

Gone are the days when brands used to formulate their business strategies and trust that to work for years on end. In these disruptive times, businesses are compelled to look outside their immediate, predictive structures and comfort zones; and see what other forces and trends are influencing the markets.

This calls for Digital Transformation, a transformation of philosophies, models, processes and systems on the inside, by taking into account how things are changing outside.

Rian Solis explains Digital Transformation as: The realignment of, or new investment in technology, business models, and processes to create new value for customers and employees and more effectively compete in an ever- changing digital economy.

The infographic below (Source: Altimeter) illustrates the six stages of digital transformation.

The Six Progressive Stages of Digital Transformation as described by Rian Solis:

  1. Business as Usual: Organizations operate with a familiar legacy perspective of customers, processes, metrics, business models, and technology, believing that it remains the solution to digital relevance.
  2. Present and Active: Pockets of experimentation are driving digital literacy and creativity, albeit disparately, throughout the organization while aiming to improve and amplify specific touchpoints and processes.
  3. Formalized: Experimentation becomes intentional while executing at more promising and capable levels. Initiatives become bolder, and, as a result, change agents seek executive support for new resources and technology.
  4. Strategic: Individual groups recognize the strength in collaboration as their research, work, and shared insights contribute to new strategic roadmaps that plan for digital transformation ownership, efforts, and investments.
  5. Converged: A dedicated digital transformation team forms to guide strategy and operations based on business and customer- centric goals. The new infrastructure of the organization takes shape as roles, expertise, models, processes, and systems to support transformation are solidified.
  6. Innovative and Adaptive: Digital transformation becomes a way of business as executives and strategists recognize that change is constant. A new ecosystem is established to identify and act upon technology and market trends in pilot and, eventually, at scale.

3. Nurturing the Culture of Leadership

Only 71 companies from the original 1955 Fortune 500 List, are estimated to have survived till today (Source: Jim Collins, Built to Last). Another estimate says, around 500,000 new startups emerge in the United States alone, each year – out of which 50% fail within the first year, and from the remaining, 56% fail in the next five years.

There could be many rationales behind the failure of these businesses; but the most pertinent one is definitely the lack of ‘strong leadership.’ As Rian of Altimeter says, “Management cultures must evolve into leadership cultures to thrive”. Because leaders can identify and nurture the precious bonding brands can have with their customers, and bring about a meaningful transformation.

It is this vision and farsightedness that immediately connects the investment efforts with the customer experiences. Effective leaders can drive a strong culture of innovation, agility, determination and empathy – to be more relevant in the eyes of the eyes of the consumers.

Disruptions in technologies and internet of things (IoT); and frequent changes in consumer behaviour; are already the norm in this fast-paced digitized world we live in. It’s only the alert, agile, progressive, adaptive and empathic brands – which will make into the doors of the consumers!

If you would like to know more or would like to contribute to this article I want to hear from you.

Call Andy Fox (me) on (03) 5249-5570 or email andy@element7digital.com.au...

Website is element7digital.com.au     

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