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This article was published on April 24, 2012

Digital: The new reality

Digital: The new reality
Harald Timmer
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Harald Timmer

Harald Timmer is Senior Executive at Accenture Netherlands. You can find him on LinkedIn. Harald Timmer is Senior Executive at Accenture Netherlands. You can find him on LinkedIn.

This is a guest post by Harald Timmer, Senior Executive at Accenture Netherlands. We are organizing our TNW CxO Summit, a four-hour conference aimed at senior executives, leading thinkers, creators and founders from the worlds of Internet, mobile, technology, media, finance and entertainment, in cooperation with Accenture.

The Next Web Conference, held in Amsterdam later this week, is set to make one thing very clear: to remain competitive, organizations need a robust and flexible business model to support the rapid and radically changing digital revolution. Up until now, the digital revolution has been mainly about information. Customers have had increasing levels of access to static and dynamic information which allows them to take on more control and create new expectations in the interaction with organizations. The future of the digital revolution will be about interaction.

Organizations will be challenged to design and deliver personalized interactions between themselves and their (potential) customers. Customers demand that suppliers understand their needs and they expect a tailored experience. Therefore organizations need to take an active step to make use of the available data and continue to enrich the customer profile with new data obtained during the interactions or via external sources.

In addition, organizations also need to take note of customers’ increasing willingness to interact with their peers through social platforms. Enabling these peer-to-peer interactions is vital to create brand awareness and market penetration of organizations’ products and services.

How organizations respond to this shift from information to interaction will be a major factor in their success or failure. An important element in the creation of the new business model is designing processes and implementing supporting tools to allow employees to also embrace ‘digital’. But to ensure any new business model is sustainable, there are two key threats which need to be addressed:

Threat 1: The Need for Speed

To stay competitive or get ahead of the game, companies need to shorten the time-to-market for new products and services from months to days. Innovation centers and IT departments need to work with new agile product and system development technologies to keep the pace high while ensuring maximum flexibility. Next to focusing on the people and the processes, new services (like cloud computing) will play a key role in delivering speed and flexibility to the infrastructure, data storage and processing requirements.

These new technology developments are paving the way to a more even playing field and increasing competition as smaller scale organizations are able to make quicker improvements, to the pace of change, than larger organizations.

Threat 2: The Need for Accessibility

Today’s customers expect organizations to offer multiple interaction channels from which they are in control of the channel choice. But a consistent and transparent end-to-end multi-channel experience is not easy to create, nor maintain. Many organizations today are unable to deliver this due to legacy systems and a heavily product driven organization. A key success element for organizations when defining ‘accessibility’ is to ensure that they don’t limit the strategy based on what the direct competition is offering. Customers today are comparing the services and accessibility of organizations, expecting the same accessibility from their telecommunications provider as from their bank.

The threat of accessibility is an area where you can expect some major shakeups. Take for example the rapidly expanding mobile payments market. I believe that organizations have to tackle the digital revolution head-on by integrating digital into their business model. To ensure success, leadership is needed from the entire C-suite to ensure alignment of the business and IT priorities and to allow for one clear vision and strategic delivery path for the organization. Employees themselves will need to be re-trained for the required digital skills and competencies to ensure excellence in the delivery towards the customers.

I am looking forward to lively debates on these and many other topics during The Next Web conference and I look forward to seeing you there.

Follow all of our coverage of The Next Web Conference 2012 here.