Business leaders don't think of digital as central to their business because in the past, it hasn't been. But now your customers, your products, your business operations, and your competitors are fundamentally digital. To win in this new world, digital leaders must reimagine their businesses as fundamentally digital. Do this, and you can become a digital predator; fail, and your business will become digital prey.

This isn’t a fundamentally new message from Forrester. We’ve been saying this for a couple of years now. But what we have done is update our thinking and our data on the subject based on our most recent research and a major new survey in partnership with Odgers Berndtson.

The result is that we’ve updated the Digital Business Imperative– the anchor document for our Digital Business Transformation playbook. In some ways it's disturbing reading, because while the overwhelming majority of executives now acknowledge that digital will disrupt their industry, just over a quarter think that their firm has an appropriate strategy in place to respond.

The problem is, far too many firms still treat digital as a bolt-on. Companies started by launching departmental efforts in marketing, eBusiness, or technology management and bolting them onto the existing businesses. But treating every new digital channel as another project generates organizational and technical chaos, intensifying the operational challenge that your firm's functional building blocks are independently striving for internal efficiency and fighting for scarce resources. The "digital bolt-on" approach can deliver tactical results, but the strategic reality is that your business needs a reset.

When we look at the leaders, we found the following lessons:

  • Don't Build A Digital Strategy; Digitize Your Business Strategy. Digital fundamentally changes your relationship with your customers. You can't address this change with a bolt-on digital strategy that adds an app here or a site there. To remain competitive, you must re-engineer how your business creates value for your customers in the digital age.
  • Use Digital To deliver customer outcomes. Re-envision your business not as a set of products and services but instead as a part of the personal value ecosystems that your customers assemble according to their needs and desires. Learn to increase value by expanding your company's role in your customers' personal value ecosystems.
  • Digital Operational Excellence Increases Business Agility. Digital business isn't just about customer experience — it's also a way to drive operational agility. Digital operations can increase speed-to-market, make employees more productive, promote leaner processes, and maximize asset utilization.

This isn’t simple. The Digital Business Imperativeand our Digital Business Transformationplaybook show you how.