Oh, to Be A Unicorn

TS465077198_edited_webIn 2014, according to CB Insights 2015 Tech IPO, “42 companies . . . have raised a financing round at a real or rumored valuation of $1B or more.” Uber, Square, Snapchat, Pinterest, and Dropbox are a few of the companies listed. Venerable brands admire these startups because they appear to grow exponentially overnight. They wonder how they become so famous, so quickly.

Some companies think startups are wildly successful because they use new technologies. They begin to believe that   launching a new website or app or Facebook page will magically triple their business overnight.

Unfortunately, much of this is wishful thinking.

Making the digital dream a reality (and avoiding “bolt-on digital” thinking)

That doesn’t mean companies shouldn’t introduce new digital channels: they absolutely should.  But they need to consider many factors in the process. How will new digital channels affect all aspects of their businesses? How will they define — or redefine– the ideal customer value proposition? Will it require a new business and operating model? Firms that miss thinking through these factors will find the “bolt-on digital” approach a waste of resources.

4 ways to avoid “bolt-on digital” thinking

TS466922314_edited_web1. Think as if you are starting a new company. The vision must incorporate all aspects of the business—most importantly, product development, sales and marketing, and operations.

2. Personalize digital experiences. Digital offers the flexibility of offering personalized products and services to customers. At the same time the existing physical touch points need to address customer queries on the personalized experience available online.

3. Invest in analytics upfront. Digital marketing demands guided missile-like precise delivery of content. But that requires data and analytics. Unfortunately the latter is often treated as an after thought in most firms new to digital.

4. Build out digital touch points. A digital customer is often an information savvy customer. You couldn’t do worse than have uninformed customer facing representatives call them asking for information they have already provided or fail to answer their questions which they later resolve online on their own. 

When you falter in your digital efforts, there will be many “I told you so” coming out of the woodwork. They will say, “I told you it is too early for us to go digital.”  “Our customers need the physical touch.” “This is not a digital-ready market.”

But that is the beauty of digital. It allows you to Think Big, Start Small, Fail Fast, and Scale Quickly. One must embrace the culture of experimentation and learning to experience success in Digital.

Avoiding digital is not an option.

For more on this topic, I recommend reading Eric Ries’  book on  The Lean StartUp.

Shashidhar Bhat

Shashidhar Bhat

Shashidhar Bhat is a Senior Director for Consulting for Cognizant.