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The Digital Transformation Playbook – A Book Review

The Digital Transformation Playbook – A Book Review

By Abhijit Bhaduri

Is your organisation older than the internet? Is it younger than the internet? Yes? No? Either way, you still need to read this book.

With the advent of electricity, “startups” of that era worked with companies to evangelise the use of this resource to transform the way factories were run. Interestingly, digital-born companies are also in the same stage. They have to make it easy for analogue businesses to transform the way they have always worked. The Digital Transformation Playbook simplifies the steps needed to go through this transformation. The author, David Rogers, teaches digital strategy and marketing to executives at Columbia Business School.

 The Digital Transformation Playbook simplifies the steps for analogue businesses to transform themselves, As illustrated by the author.

The Digital Transformation Playbook simplifies the steps for analogue businesses to transform themselves, as illustrated by the author.

The 5 Domains of Transformation

The Digital Transformation Playbook talks about the five domains in which organisations need to transform if they want to succeed in the digital world. Namely – how businesses view their customers, how they view their competition, how they leverage data, how they innovate and how they create value for their customers.

1. Customers

Today, customers have to be sold to. In the digital world, businesses need to involve customers and actively engage them in a way that they can influence others. The organisation has to continuously change its processes and policies to respond to the evolving needs of the customer.

2. Competition

Competition does not always come from traditional peers in the industry.

Competition does not always come from traditional peers in the industry. Tesla aside, GM and Ford have to also acknowledge Google and Apple as companies that they are competing with. GM has invested in Lyft as part of an alliance that involves autonomous efforts with the ride-hailing service. On the other hand, the Chinese ride-hailing company, Didi Kuaidi, is raising money from Apple to battle out Uber.

3. Data

Every branch and function within the organisation has to learn how to make sense of the massive amount of data being generated with every transaction. Whether it is with the customer, with the suppliers or with the employees, each figure translates to knowledge. Cloud storage is making it easy to access relevant data anytime and anywhere. Turning the data into insights is an important part of the organisation’s competitive strategy.

4. Innovation

Before the digital age, innovation was expensive. Only a wildly successful product could grow to compete in the international market. Today, every product is in perpetual beta. Every app needs to be updated on a weekly basis. Nothing is cemented or finalised before putting it on display. Dynamicity is crucial. Digital technologies enable continuous testing and experimentation; processes that were inconceivable in the past. Prototypes can be built for pennies and ideas can be tested quickly with user communities. Therefore, constant learning and the rapid iteration of products, before and after their launch date, is becoming the norm.

5. Value

Once a company becomes successful, it rapidly settles into complacency. The value created for the customer keeps eroding and some other provider can quickly step in to plug the gap. Companies have to create a value proposition and a “value network” which needs continuous reiteration and re-validation.

Adapt to Compete, or Move Aside

Businesses will have no choice but to adapt.

All this adds up to one thing – success in today’s market is not just about technology. It is about strategy, leadership and a new way of thinking. Businesses will have no choice but to adapt. They will need to identify new customers, partners, channels of distribution, new alliances (maybe even with competitors), rethink their cost structures and approaches to branding. The organisation’s portfolio of skills has to be unique. Whether this is Apple’s superiority of design or Google’s continuous data analysis to create new products or Amazon’s rethinking of the way it fulfils customer demand. Once you look at it like this, their drone service starts to make sense.

The book is full of the obvious case studies of Apple and Google and Netflix. The genuine value of the book lies in the way David Rogers deconstructs the elements that have created a strategic advantage to companies such as Warby Parker. What enables Warby Parker to disrupt the incumbent Luxxotica (sells branded eyeglasses from RayBan, Prada, Armani, Vogue etc)? Warby Parker sells eyeglasses at one-third the price of Luxxotica and delivers several options to your home. When the customer purchases a pair of eyeglasses, Warby Parker donates a pair to VisionSpring – a non-profit. This leaves the consumer feeling good. It is this combination of elements that makes it hard for the incumbent to compete.

The examples and case studies are terrific. Both, the incumbents as well the disruptors will enjoy the book. The digital transformation is about leadership and thinking differently. This is re-validated perfectly in the book.

If this industry is your bread and butter, you should read the book to pick up on the tricks you could be missing. If you are a fledgling, like me,  you should still read the book. You will absolutely love it!

Abhijit Bhaduri is an Indian author, columnist and management consultant. He is the Chief Learning Officer of the Wipro Group. Join the author on Twitter @AbhijitBhaduri.

Featured Image Source: By Anders Jilden via Unsplash 


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