When the world of business goes digital:
Growing the digital maturity of the organization
By Donald Lim

 
It goes without saying that recognizing the digital revolution has become the norm rather than a novelty in companies today. Most boardroom discussions have now been centered on how their organizations can adopt to their changing customer needs, brought about by the onslaught of digital businesses and how revenues are being challenged not by their usual direct competitors, but those businesses in their peripheral. All marketing plans are now thrown out the window as the concept of positioning and marketing warfare are taking a different form.
 
Hotels used to compete with other hotels and other players in the accommodation industry. Music labels handle and manage artists, and compete with other music labels with their own stable of artists. Taxi and bus fleets compete with other fleets in the busy metro, claiming their right in being called the king of the road. However, all these changed in an instant, when mobile phones began to have access to the internet. Suddenly, a whole new world emerged.
 
With the internet becoming accessible to people anytime, anywhere, internet businesses have come into the foreground and started to gain critical mass. Collaborative economy mobile applications like AirBnB, Spotify and Uber have penetrated not only the market place, but into the mobile phones of the public. In a nutshell, collaborative economy business models leverage on the power of the crowd looking for a specific service and another set of crowd offering a service, all in a single platform. They thus converge all on a single, real time availability platform. Thus, in one sweep, finding a place to stay, getting access to music, and getting a cab, can be done with a few presses on the mobile phone and without the need to pay through cash. And these are just the beginning.
 
In the Philippines, enterprising app creators have created their own businesses following the lead of these companies. For example, cleanhome allows anyone in need of house cleaning to get immediate access to available home cleaners. They charge an hourly rate and are very efficient in cleaning your condo unit or house. Coolfix follows the same principle, except that it helps you find someone who can fix your air conditioning in an instant. Bolt, an Uber for tour guides, allows tourists to have access to registered tour guides who can tour them around, rather than getting strangers off the streets acting as tour guides.
 
For existing organizations, especially bigger and more established ones, the digital wave is a big threat to how they do business, especially if they remain on their old ways and do not innovate. Thus, it is imperative that organizations today start planning on their journey towards digital maturity. McKinsey has identified five levels of digital maturity, which I duly merged two phases and ended up with four. These are the four phases of digital maturity which every organization should assess themselves upon.

The first is an Evolver. An existing organization would usually start up recognizing that most of its audiences and competition are starting to become “digital”, and thus, would be attempting to working on digital projects. There will be key talents and staff assigned a digital role, and they would start working on ad hoc digital projects. An example of this would be a typical consumer company marketing their services via social media and mobile apps.

The second is a Market Matcher, an Evolver who realized that there is an opportunity for the organization to create a digital product for the current customer base. A market matcher organization will then hire people or set up a digital business unit that will focus on selling the digital product to their customer base.  An example would be airline companies offering online booking to their passengers, expanding their current user base with real time demand and supply based fares.

The third is a Pure Play organization, wherein the company realizes that they can move faster by creating a whole new business unit that is not slowed down by the current business structures and considerations. Some companies would set up another new legal entity which would be to disrupt the current business practice. On the other hand, new digital companies come in as Pure Play and would naturally disrupt the industry with their innovative models.
 
The last is an Ecosystem Shaper. This kind of an organization takes the lead in the industry and manages the entire ecosystem, stepping up from being just a Pure Play. They are not usually first movers, but they learned from their predecessors and improved an ideal product to ensure they manage all the stakeholders in the ecosystem. Facebook and Google for example, holds the ecosystem for Social and Search respectively, controlling the users and the advertisers on both side of the platform.
 
The race today is towards who becomes the Ecosystem Shaper. Larger organizations would find a harder time moving forward given that most of their revenues would come from traditional business. Pure Play companies would come in to disrupt the established organizations. Thus, more established companies would counter by creating their Pure Play models in the race to become the leader of their Ecosystem. Regardless of where any organization is and what industry they are, now is the time to start their digital journey.
 
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Donald Lim is the Chief e-Marketing Strategist of Mansmith and Fielders, Inc., the only advocacy-based training and consultancy firm focused on marketing, sales, strategy and innovation. For feedback, please write to mentors@mansmith.net.