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The widespread adoption of home Internet connections in the 1990s led to the widespread availability of online banking services. That was over 30 years ago. So why are lending companies still touting a “digital transformation” and “digital-first” approach as if it means anything today?
A recent ad for a student loan company may have turned me off again with these meaningless buzzwords, but it does highlight an important message that I want to convey to all businesses still using this provocative term.
The digital revolution has already happened
There is no doubt that the world has gone through a period of digital transformation. What started as widgets morphed into apps that are now home to countless services and companies. At the same time, the powerful tiny computers we carry around have been the driver of about 72% of online sales.
These important milestones define the term “digital transformation”. That’s why the lending company calls its online process a “digital-first strategy,” which, frankly, isn’t worth sharing the label with the world’s most impactful innovation to date.
Businesses chasing buzzwords like “digital transformation” don’t need to fire their marketing teams or question their corporate values. But having said that, it’s time for them to turn their attention to more accurately reflecting the meaning these companies are looking for when choosing these terms.
related: How Entrepreneurs Can Leverage Digital Transformation in the “New Normal” Era
Digital buzzwords don’t say what’s really important
Even though we agree that digital transformation is more important than any one company’s project or strategy, some leaders insist on using more specific terms like “digital procurement” to explain their processes. While this may seem like a step in the right direction, it’s actually a perfect example of how many companies still don’t recognize what’s really worth paying attention to.
“Digital” is already here and here to stay – it is data Now more than ever behind the digital interface. Businesses should ditch the focus on digitization and instead delve deeper, focusing on the rise of data collection, management and utilization that is helping the world’s largest companies compete on an unprecedented scale.
When Amazon, one of the world’s largest companies known for pioneering fast shipping, started selling fresh produce and pantry items, it seemed that many thought Walmart was done.However, Walmart is investing heavily in data Transformation to help them better meet the needs of consumers.
Now, Walmart has cornered about 20% of the online grocery market, beating Amazon. That’s the power of data transformation.
related: Amazon and Walmart are blueprints for competitive advantage
Shifting focus to data has implications across the enterprise
It’s not just a change in terminology when businesses are tossing away from terms like “digital first” and really starting to explore avenues in the data transformation space. When moving to a data-first model, businesses open up a world of opportunities that have the potential to impact every element of the business.
The data transformation informed Walmart’s strategic decisions that ultimately allowed the massive company to compete and win against companies many times its own size. But in addition to using all this data behind the scenes, Walmart also uses it to revolutionize the customer experience.
Airbnb is another great example of using data to shape customers’ perceptions of the company. The business competes with hotels and other booking sites around the clock, but it still stands out because of how it uses data to simplify the customer journey and add value to the booking experience.
Airbnb does this by identifying in real time when users are reluctant to book accommodation and offering discounts or alerting them that an area is almost fully booked for the month they wish to travel. While the marketing strategy is very effective, the big data examples at work also make Airbnb one of the most responsive and user-friendly applications of its kind.
But how can you unlock the value of your company’s data internally and externally to improve Your edge?
related: How businesses can save time and money with smart purchasing strategies
take your point home
No matter how concise, witty, or charming you try to be, the message your business shares should always have a clear meaning to anyone who encounters it. This is why you should be on the toes of digital transformation, and this is why you should narrow down what you actually mean.
By moving away from vague buzzwords that start with “numbers” and getting more specific about what’s going on in your data-related business, you’ll find fewer and fewer people rolling their eyes when they read about your company. So you can really resonate with your audience, promote understanding and make people interested in what your business is trying to accomplish.