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Creating value and differentiation in the 'post digital era'

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For businesses to success in any competitive market they need to be focused on value creation for stakeholders and provide that value in a differentiated way. In the last 10 years, digital technologies have allowed for businesses to extend their reach and market well beyond traditional brick and mortar, increasing the number of potential customers and subsequently revenues. With the proliferation of digital technology, a new era of ‘post digital’ is changing the way businesses invest and deliver their value to the market.

The Post Digital Era is characterized by consumers, employees and business partners having their own reality based on perspective, data and information they retain. Every moment in the post digital era will represent an opportunity for companies to play a role in shaping and influence that reality. Organizations will need to deliver both personalized and individualised experiences to meet expectations.

Success in a post digital era requires both internal capabilities and knowledge of external trends.

Internal capabilities

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Businesses that operate in a post digital era will need to continually invest internally on digital capabilities to create differentiated value in a saturated digital environment. In order to be ready for a post digital era there are five critical capabilities that need to be acquired and fostered internally within businesses:

  • Leadership – Success in post digital era requires strong and experienced leaders that can rally people and teams towards a vision where the path may be unknown or untested. Leaders need to have the experience to believe that the outcome is possible
  • Trust – This is a currency in the post digital era. Trust with customers, employees, suppliers, contractors and partners is essential for successful execution and Return on Investment (ROI) of transformation in the post digital era.
  • Reflection – Many businesses are already on a digital transformation journey, taking a step back to reflect on the outcomes the transformation will provide will often lead to a review and potentially restructure to course correct the journey. In a post digital era the ability to reflect on past rather than be tied to it will be critical for flexibility and speed.
  • Ways of Working – New delivery models are available that allow teams to be more agile and fail fast to deliver to the customer needs in a post digital era. Delivery structures like “digital factories / kitchens” with strong digital product owners are critical in delivering differentiated value at scale.
  • Mindsets – Team members are key to success of any program, however in a post digital era the mindset of those team members is critical for success. Often times product teams develop short cycle experiments to test functionality and ROI. This requires the ability to perform in situations where the outcome is unknown, the ability to recover from a failed experiment are both examples of mindset characteristics that need to be fostered.

Once these characteristics are in place businesses are better able to chart a transformation journey in a post digital era. Externally, there are several trends that businesses also need to be aware of in a post digital era.

External trends

Every year, Accenture Research and Technology Vision professionals identify five technology trends that will shape business over the next three years. The five tech trends in this year’s report reflect the parallel digital transformations of companies and people. This year the technology trends are focused around what will make businesses successful in a Post-Digital Era. The underlying five key trends that businesses should be aware of if they are to be successful in surviving the post digital era:

  • DARQ Power – Stands for: Distributed ledger technology (D), artificial intelligence (A), extended reality (R) and quantum computing (Q). These are the next level of foundational technology that will allow for real-time computing power to compile personalized and individualized products.
  • Get to Know Me – This involves deep real-time analysis of the customer in order to make digital interactions based on developing a tech identity of the customer allowing for a personalized and individualized services.
  • Human+ Worker – Is the supplementing of human workers with digital technologies that allows them to be more productive and focus on value generating tasks over repetitive processes.
  • Secure Us to Secure Me – This is the growing requirement for businesses to collaborate on security and risk management. Growing ecosystems and digital connections between businesses creates great value generating opportunities as well as additional security risks.
  • MyMarkets – Is the culmination of the above technologies and trends coming together to allow businesses to take advantage of moments to create personalized marketplaces for customers that are fast, supported, and secure. A micro-market place can be created anytime, anyplace based on the customer.

Knowledge and investment in these external trends will provide businesses with the insights for transformation teams to execute with certainty. Coupled with internal capabilities, transformation programs will be better able to provide stakeholders with greater value and differentiation in the marketplace in a post digital era.

Executing for Value

So, what will this new, ‘post digital era’ mean for business? It will involve companies looking for competitive edge and differentiation. The impact of the post digital era is already having an impact on the business community. 

The Business Roundtable (US) recently released a statement on the purpose of a corporation. This highlights additional stakeholders that a business has a commitment to deliver in a world where digital eco-systems are expanding. This includes shareholders, customers, employees, suppliers, and communities. In a post digital era, all functions and levels of an organization are affected by transformation. As a result, post digital transformation and investment needs to be supported by a change campaign, outlining benefits to all stakeholders.

The post digital era is disrupting all industries, with digital transformation front of mind for many businesses. In Asia Pacific, investments in digital transformation are driving growth and profitability. The challenge facing businesses is looking at how their digital investments are differentiated and add value to their stakeholders.

Post-digital markets are made up of consumers, business partners, and governments alike enjoying the spoils of the digital revolution. Fully on-demand or fully customized products are now the standard in practically every industry, and sooner than later, customers will expect every organization to achieve both.

This is not to say digital is old or over. Far from it. Companies have used the power of digital transformation to shape themselves, to shape customers and employees, and then to shape people’s expectations. What’s left is using their ongoing digital efforts to shape the market. Companies face a world of renewed expectations and core digital technologies are more critical than ever. But the time for pilots and experimentation is long past, and leaders must begin to strategize for what’s next.

The writer is managing director & technology advisory lead Asean at Accenture.

This article is part of a series in collaboration with CPA Australia to share knowledge on accounting, business and finance issues.