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How Digitally Mature Is Your Business?7 min read

Hugh Deraps June 18, 2018

Netflix has revolutionised the way we watch movies and soap operas. Having started as a humble DVD rental business, they are now a billion-dollar conglomerate specialising in online video streaming. Netflix isn’t just a case study in a company that made good use of existing market opportunities, but it is also a good example of a company that handled its dynamically evolving and highly-disruptive digital landscape in a wonderful way.

The digital revolution that is Netflix

The hallmark of a successful company is its digital pro-activeness. When we talk of digital readiness and digital transformation, we talk about a company’s inherent ability to identify where the digital landscape is heading, how it is changing and how this will impact their business.

This was one area where Netflix was on-point. In 1997, when it first started operations, the biggest digital competitors to their business were companies that rented out VHS tapes. The DVDs Netflix offered fared better with the public and the company flourished.

The early 2000s brought with them the internet revolution. With more people moving online and taking to digital mediums of entertainment like YouTube, the number of takers for DVD dwindled. This is when the company hit upon a brilliant plan. Acknowledging that the future of media and entertainment was on the internet, Netflix started streaming movies and soaps on its online platform, which viewers could watch for a monthly fee.

The next step in Netflix’s evolution came when the management realised that customers were looking for original content. This stopped the company from seeking pre-produced shows and lead to their producing home-grown Netflix original content

Netflix is the perfect example of a company that has changed and evolved digitally, as per the needs of its market. The company saw how he customer needs were evolving and how technology evolved, and they put this knowledge to good use by coming up with offerings which utilised the very best technology could offer.

This is a company that hasn’t just digitally transformed but has remained digitally mature since its inception.

What is digital maturity?

Digital maturity is an organisation’s ability to anticipate the disruption in technology in the digital landscape it is operating in. These are companies which are physically and strategically willing to change its business models as per the needs of the digital landscape

Digital maturity is seldom just a technology-centric concept. Often, digital maturity also deals with how capable an organisation’s leaders are in implementing the technology-driven strategy across the business, how well-trained the employees are in using the technology that’s been set-up within the organisational structure and how well-equipped customers are in accepting the new technology that’s been introduced to their world.

Understanding how digitally mature they are will help organisations identify what they need to do, who they need to contact and what resources they need to procure to stay relevant in the market.

Features of a digitally-mature organisation

A digitally-mature company has the following features which differentiate it from companies that aren’t digitally mature:

  • It puts technology into the heart of its operations

A digitally mature company is one that adopts an organisation pro-digital mindset that seeks to leverage the existing and future technology in all its operations. It seeks to answer how best to use technology to improve employee and customer experience, how to use technology to automate labor-driven tasks and how to create business strategy accounting for the disruptive technology of the future.

  • It places data at the core of its business

The lifeline of any technology is data. Without data, everything that technology can do will be utterly meaningless. Digitally mature companies make data acquisition, analysis, and interpretation of their core operation. They rely on real-time insights to manage their internal operations and stakeholder relationships. They also use data to tackle any digital disruption they face.

  • It is digitally fluent

Finally, the hallmark of any digitally mature company is how it is well-versed in the language of technology and how it implements state-of-the-art digital technology in every operation and department. From the best of UX to the latest in AI technology, these companies will strive to implement new age digital tools and practices to meet the changing requirements of the industry.

How to assess if you are digitally mature?

Companies that wish to assess their digital maturity need to analyse how they fare on the following criteria:

  • Digital fluency – are you tech-savvy and do you possess the tools needed to meet the requirements of the digital landscape?
  • Data intelligence and analytics – how do you collect data, from where, how often and how do you analyse and utilise it.
  • Stakeholder experience management – who are the key players impacted by your technology, how ready are your employees to accept the digital evolution, what changes have been implemented in the process and organisational structure.
  • Customer service management – how personalised is your marketing & sales operations, which channels do you use to interact with customers, are you mobile-optimised, is your technology customer-friendly, are you using an omni-channel approach to customer management and how does technology play a role here.
  • Social network engagement – how do you manage the disruption on the social network platform, how will the new technology affect campaign management, how will engagement be analysed using new digital tools.
  • Organisational culture and strategic plans – what are the leadership styles for a tech-driven organisation, how proactive are the leaders towards implementing technology, is there an organisational culture that is accepting of digital transformation.

Based on these, there are four levels of digital maturity that organisations can have:

Level 1

Companies at Level 1 are the beginners. They:

  • Have no experience with digital technology
  • Use little to no technology in their operation
  • Do not have mobile-optimised solutions and do not use social networks
  • Management is extremely conservative and unwilling to adopt technology and are at risk of suffering from a digital Darwinism

Level 2

Companies at Level 2 are at the intermediate level. They:

  • Have identified the need to go digital and have adopted basic technology
  • Aren’t completely customer-focused and do not offer personalised service
  • Use technology as a means to improve functionality and operational efficiency, but not as a competitive advantage
  • Management is open to digital transformation, but they do not have digital literacy to support their interests

Level 3

Companies at Level 3 are advanced in their approach towards digital transformation. They:

  • Have implemented digital technology at all levels of their organisation
  • Use technology to create superior, data-driven customer experiences
  • Are highly-personalised and have an omni-channel optimised technology
  • Management is highly tech-savvy and just needs to become proactive to become truly revolutionary

Level 4

Companies at Level 4 are the experts, the trailblazers who are well on their way towards becoming truly digitally-transformed businesses. They:

  • Place technology at the heart of everything they do
  • Are extremely conscious of how technology can impact their survival
  • Are willing to let their stakeholders’ desires and needs dictate their digital transformation
  • Are hyper-personalised to the point where technology helps them become client-focused to the minutest degree

3 steps towards becoming a digitally mature organisation

Are you interested in becoming digitally-mature? Do you wish to transform the way you do business? If yes, follow these steps:/p>

  • Set up a digital strategy

Research shows that 50% of businesses don’t have a digital strategy in place and 63% of all managers believe digital implementation is too slow for comfort. The first thing you need to do is create a digital strategy keeping in mind your level of digital maturity. Consider what you want to achieve in the future and create a plan to make your vision a reality. Start small with your short-term goals and then move onto your long-term ones.

  • Put in place a team of specialists

Having the technology in place isn’t sufficient. Organisations need to equip their employees with the skills to use the technology you implement. Start right at the top and mentor leadership to use technology at the strategic level. Trickle it down to the lowest rungs of the organisation till every level of the employee becomes adept at implementing the technology that is set up at their respective levels.

  • Be open and honest

Digital transformation is a challenging task. You will certainly face your share of failures and troubles. Create transparent lines of communication across the organization and leave the floor open for dialogue. Allow stakeholders to ideate and come to you with solutions. Often, the best ideas come from places you least expect them to, and your stakeholders may surprise you with their drive and desire to make your digital transformation plans a success.