I watched a great TED talk this week by Vidia Mooneegan in which he explains the principles of transformation in terms even the most obstinate Luddite couldn’t deny.

There’s no doubt time has almost run out for businesses that haven’t transformed and if you are enjoying business as usual and wondering what all the fuss is about you are most certainly about to get a shock. To paraphrase, Mooneegan says, the disrupters creep up on you from nowhere and, because the pace of change is accelerating at a mind-blowing pace there is nothing a traditional business can do about it when they do. He reminds us that while it took FaceBook three-and-a-half years to gather 50million subscribers, it took Whats’App fifteen months and AngryBirds fifteen days! Such is the rate of acceleration.

There’s more bad news too, because, by definition, a digital business has infinite capacity. A single digital organisation could, in theory at least, handle all the customers in any given sector.

We know the majority of businesses aren’t ready. Some still don’t get it and others are in denial, usually because their leaders don’t know what to do so they bury their heads in the sand and hope it will all blow over. It will of course. In the digital economy everything is transient. The world will move on to the next phase in our evolution, but sadly if you haven’t kept up, you won’t be there to see it. As I have said many times “You are only as good as your NEXT big idea”.

Sure, transformation is nothing new. I’ve used events including the discovery of fire right through to the industrial revolution to illustrate this. The difference this time is that change is driven by digital technology, which apart from adding the pace I’ve already referred to, means it reaches into every area of our lives and is fundamental. This is by far the biggest step to date in the process of business evolution.

The fact that this change is “Fundamental” means digitising your existing business model isn’t the answer. In fact, it could be argued all you would be doing by taking this approach is greasing the pole to your demise. Traditional businesses simply won’t work in the digital economy, they can’t deliver the solutions required and they just won’t keep up with digital competitors. Digitising existing processes may help you move faster, but you’ll be heading in the wrong direction.

To succeed in the digital economy you need to re-invent your business. Start by looking for new ways to deploy your resources, new structures and new products. Align yourself to the opportunities of the new, digital marketplace. However, you need to understand that this is a moving train. There are no stops on this line. The transformation is perpetual. Mooneegan echoes my own belief that today’s successful organisations transform as they transact.

He also highlights the point I have raised many times, that today’s business leaders are by definition ill-equipped to drive transformation and even less suited to managing a digital business. That’s probably why so many businesses are failing to respond to the need to change. There’s no doubt that many business leaders, conscious of their own inability to run a digital business are obstructing change. While more than sixty percent of business recognise the need for change only twenty-one percent of those have a plan. This means that most businesses don’t react until they see the whites of their disrupters eyes and, as I have already said, that’s far too late. Their response, when it does come, is hampered by the need for speed, cutting corners and trying to make and mend. The inevitable outcome is 70% of transformations are currently failing and it is estimated a third of today’s businesses will cease to exist within three years.

However, there is still a narrow window of opportunity for organisations that want to catch up. Not all will succeed, but no business can afford to stand still and if you approach transformation correctly the odds could swing in your favour. There is a process you have to follow, of course and if you by-pass it you will certainly fail.

There are many excuses presented for transformation failure, but they all boil down to one thing – the absence of focus and that focus is enshrined in your brand. Brand-Led Business Transformation is faster, cheaper and less painful than other approaches and for many organisation represents their last chance of survival.

Discover the process of Brand-Led Business Transformation and download the 3D infographic that clearly illustrates the path to transformation success. If you want to share your branding and transformation challenges book a FREE consultation to help set you on your way. Don’t, whatever you do, do nothing. Be bold in the face of transformation and there‘s a chance you could still be around three years from now.

Phil Darby
November 28, 2018

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