Headlines and case studies about digital disruption tend to feature large B2C disruptors like Uber, Airbnb, and Amazon. While historically significant and impressive, these companies' stories and their results may be unrealistic for many midmarket companies that lack a similar capital structure. But, that shouldn't discourage midmarket companies from thinking about digital transformation since practical strategies and digital opportunities abound.
Consider these three lessons, gleaned from years of technology consulting with mature, midmarket companies that led successful, value-creating digital transformation efforts.
1. You don’t have to disrupt an industry to be successful.
Digital transformation doesn’t need to radically change industry dynamics or result in a new business model to drive meaningful results. In fact, many facets of digital strategy go beyond generating new revenue opportunities and don't even need to be customer-facing.
Digital transformation doesn’t need to radically change industry dynamics or result in a new business model to drive meaningful results.
Successful digital strategies should include a focus on improving staff productivity and collaboration as well as supply chain efficiency. None of these may be directly observable by your customer, yet the results may show over time. For example, interdepartmental communication and workflow platforms can expedite product development, time to market, quoting lead times, and service delivery all while increasing staff satisfaction and productivity. The result can be transformative for your organization, without having to bet the farm on reinventing the business.
2. Custom software isn’t required for transformation.
Midmarket businesses can create powerful digital experiences with configurable software and other readily available tools without spending a dime on a software developer. Even seemingly cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning have practical and budget-friendly applications.
Strategically sourcing technology solutions can yield mature vendor offerings that include mobile applications, integration with social platforms, and analytics engines that seamlessly augment the capabilities of your organization when deployed properly. Depending on your current degree of digital maturity and your industry, you might be able to harvest low-hanging fruit in the form of “out of the box” technologies, ready to be exploited to drive sales or improve efficiencies and savings.
For midmarket businesses, your digital strategy should include a vision for how various tools and services can work together to avoid expensive and complicated development projects.
3. Know the precursors to digital transformation.
You can dramatically improve your chances of digital success if you look holistically at your company and realistically consider your readiness for change. Is your culture collaborative and open? Have you aligned incentives and accountabilities to encourage digital adoption and initiative?
Do you have high turnover or key positions unfilled? Even the best digital strategy will be undermined and hindered by cultural and managerial shortcomings. Consider what you can do today, to create an environment where transformation can take hold and persist into the future.
Digital transformation doesn’t have to be a pie-in-the-sky dream, and it's not reserved only for headline-grabbing, well-funded disruptors or the Fortune 500. Think of digital transformation for your middle-market business as a practical and justifiable way to create lasting value, an opportunity that, with the right planning and strategy, your organization can embrace.