Insights | By Howard Tiersky

CAN YOU HIDE FROM DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION?

If you aren’t feeling pain, you probably aren’t transforming.

“Transformation” means profound change, such as when a child goes through puberty and becomes an adult. 

It’s essential today for businesses, given the rapid change in the world around.  But despite being necessary,  it often feels unappealing. 

It’s understandable because transformation inevitably involves some level of discomfort, pain, and significant uncertainty. 

Is all this pain really necessary for your enterprise? 

Sure, Uber and Netflix are great businesses, but does that mean every business needs transformation in order to achieve future success?

Let’s take my favorite restaurant, Coconuts Bar and Grill, as an example. 

It’s on the island of Cozumel, Mexico, a somewhat out-of-the-way place primarily visited by SCUBA divers and cruise ships. 

The restaurant’s floor is sand, and tables are set up under palm trees and sky. 

There’s a small, Jimmy Buffet-esque shack where the food is prepared. There's no air conditioning since there is no power on this side of the island. If you are hot in the Mexican sun, have a hand-shaken margarita. The seafood is fresh because it’s just been plucked out of the ocean. This business is doing just fine running a fantastic restaurant without electricity or running water, and I don’t think they are in any hurry to change that.

But at Coconuts, you can pay with a credit card because they have Square connected to an iPhone. And, of course, they have a Yelp page so one can read reviews about their amazing cuisine and ambiance. Yes, they also have a website and a Facebook page.

Despite not needing electricity or running water, even Coconuts has adopted some key digital capabilities.

McKinsey & Company said back in 2016 that there is “Nowhere to hide” from digital, and apparently, this even applies at least at some level to “off-the-grid” beach shacks.

And yet these digital abilities haven’t really changed the fundamental character of my favorite restaurant. Will Coconuts have to start serving IoT-enabled taquitos in order to avoid shutting its doors (despite not even having any doors)? Or can some companies continue just fine providing products like Frosted Flakes and dish detergent or services like accounting or roof repair without needing to transform? 

Can you hide from digital transformation? 

Perhaps, you have a traditional, non-digitally driven business that is healthy, growing steadily, nicely profitable, and not threatened in any significant way by “digital” competition or changing customer needs. Is that your situation?

If it is, then you should seriously consider not undergoing a major transformation. As we’ve said, it’s risky, costly, and often painful. Many of your people will resist. As my grandmother would say, who needs that kind of tumult?

But if that describes you, you are a part of a teeny-tiny minority of businesses that are not threatened by a changing digital world. So just be careful you aren’t misjudging the situation. Because there are plenty of good reasons why not just the majority of businesses but, in fact, nearly all businesses will need digital transformation to thrive.

This is an important question that you need to answer for your own business and one that I address at length in my book, WINNING DIGITAL CUSTOMERS. The first chapter is downloadable FREE. Go to https://wdc.ht/freechapter.

Get FREE access to the first chapter of FROM`s
Wall Street Journal Best Selling Book

WINNING DIGITAL CUSTOMERS


  • Learn the three patterns of all successful digital brands (including companies like Apple, Netflix and Uber).
  • Understand why many great new products fail, and the formula for building products that won’t.
  • Discover the key reasons companies resist change and how to overcome them.
Get FREE access to the first chapter of FROM's
Wall Street Journal Best Selling Book

WINNING DIGITAL CUSTOMERS


  • Learn the three patterns of all successful digital brands (including companies like Apple, Netflix and Uber).
  • Understand why many great new products fail, and the formula for building products that won’t.
  • Discover the key reasons companies resist change and how to overcome them.