Digital transformation is an established concept today, and most companies are aware that this is forcing them to evolve. However, many enterprises are not sufficiently prepared for the fact that their industry may be fundamentally challenged by new ways of doing business. Digitalization enables companies to build scale and sustainable businesses faster than ever before. New entrants can challenge established market players in the course of a few years. Companies that are digital laggards are those that are most at risk of losing business to new entrants or competitors that have started their digital transformation. However, due to the fast pace of development, companies that have previously been digital leaders could also be at risk if they rest on their laurels.
With this in mind, it is surprising that Swedish companies only get a sufficient grade overall and a lower score than last year, indicating that leading international companies are increasing their digital maturity at a faster pace than Swedish enterprises. These results can be seen as a call to action. It is not too late for improvements.
BearingPoint’s Digital Leaders Study reveals many areas in which companies can improve to increase their digital maturity. Our experience is that there is rarely a lack of willingness to change, adapt and improve. Rather, the issue lies in defining areas to prioritize, how to launch and run initiatives and, most importantly, how to coordinate and sustain company-wide change. The ability to efficiently navigate these questions lays the foundation for an agile organization in a fast-changing world, ultimately creating a sustainable and competitive advantage.
Defining which digital initiatives to prioritize is critical, as trying to become the best in all areas is likely to prove inefficient. Resources should be focused on the areas that offer the highest returns in terms of efforts required and expected impact on increased revenues or decreased costs. Regardless of target, the key to success is an outside-in, customer-obsessed, perspective. Digitalization provides better means than ever to create outstanding customer experiences. Mastering digitalization means mastering the understanding of customer behaviors, business value and technology opportunities. The challenge for many lies in implementing such a culture and ways of working across the company.
For Swedish companies, being successful in a business environment defined by digitalization requires new capabilities and new ways of working. One of several future success factors, enabled by digital tools and methodologies, is to continuously test and validate new ideas, business models or concepts. Results are used to learn and adapt from, and scale up in iterations if successful. The courage to test new approaches, to perhaps fail but to learn from mistakes and to scale up when successful, should be a natural part of the company culture. In order to succeed, it is essential to bring people together who understand customer experience, business and technology. This is how digital forerunners work today and how other companies will need to work to stay competitive in a world where change is more rapid than ever.
Sweden is a digital nation with high internet penetration and high mobile usage, and it also hosts many successful digital start-ups. Therefore, we it find surprising that Swedish companies score as low as they do in the Digital Leaders Study. Some answers can be found in legacy technology and corporate culture. We still believe that these companies are able to improve and meet the competition from both local and international challengers. Digital transformation should not be viewed simply as a technology challenge; it should be seen as an opportunity to change ways of working, customer perception, and as a new way of approaching business. The most important thing is to get started, make steady progression and adapt along the way with the whole organization onboard. If you want to remain competitive tomorrow, you need to ensure your own digital journey has already started.