It’s been 30 years since the internet made customer self-service and automation the watchwords of business. But most of you are still in the starting gates of digital transformation. Only 15% of companies have kicked it into digital high gear. And even these advanced incumbents fall way behind digital pure plays in harnessing the full power of technology to transform business and industries. The other 85% of you are just getting out of the starting gates in just one or two areas. 

Better get a good night’s sleep. There’s as much change coming in the next 10 years as you’ve wearily slogged through in the last 30. It’s digital go time. 

Six Investment Vectors Will Mark Your Future Success 

With at least a decade of transformation behind us, it’s clear which vectors of investment pay off — and will continue to do so, even as the economy inevitably goes through a business down cycle. Pick at least two of these investment vectors to get your business transformation off and running: 

  1. Build a platform business. Digital pure plays have turned everything into a software-driven “as a service” business. If you aren’t augmenting your products with services or building service platforms, you’re behind. Banks have stepped up to build platform businesses, but even they have much to learn about how to integrate forward into their customers’ lives and operations. Check out our report: “Earn Your Place In The Platform Economy 
  2. Recognize that digital is not a channel when strategizing around omnichannel. Digital is not a channel — it’s a way to shorten the distance between what your customers want and what they get. That means you must invest in technology that unifies the customer’s experience along every step of their journey. Only digital pure plays have done this fully. You must still overcome organizational and systems silos to beat down the channel mentality and fragmentation plaguing your progress. 
  3. Automate, everywhere. Artificial intelligence is the new hammer in the automation toolbox. It joins software, integration, and data to power processes, insights, and engagement. The rise of natural language processing and computer vision coupled with algorithms and data creates massive opportunities to save money and improve throughput. The economics of automation are 10 or 100 times better than manual processes. As you’re investing in robotic process automation and conversational investments, be hyperaware of the unintended consequences of artificial intelligence. Check out our report on “The Ethics Of AI: How To Avoid Harmful Bias And Discrimination.”
  4. Empower your employees. We first identified the power of HEROs — highly empowered employees — in 2010. It’s only become more important for you to give employees the tools, information, and permission (with guidelines) to solve the problems of empowered customers. What’s different now is that the collaboration, mobility, and insights tools have only gotten better. Your digital future requires digitally empowered employees. Check out our report on “Reinventing Work In The Era Of Automation.” 
  5. Enable straight-through processing. Digital experiences without the processes to support them are just a digital illusion. The only way to fulfill the promise of a digital experience is by helping a customer achieve her goal without delay. And that means every engagement process must be straight-through: automated, optimized, and hands-free. Report: “The Growing Importance Of Process To Digital Transformation 
  6. Strive for continuous improvement. You can measure the output of a digital touchpoint, product, or service. And you have used software to drive that interaction so you can also make changes to the business inputs. That means you can run experiments on your digital systems to optimize the outcomes. We call this being insights-driven, and it’s the way every startup and digital pure play operates. Start by measuring everything. 

Ten Tools And Tactics For Success 

We won’t leave you wondering what to do next. In addition to the strategy reports listed above, Forrester customers can tap into these 10 reports on tools and tactics: 

  1. Continuous delivery. Report: “Deliver On The Promise Of DevOps With Continuous Delivery And Deployment 
  2. Journey analytics. Report: “Transform Marketing With Customer Journey Analytics 
  3. Experience platforms. Report: “The Forrester Wave™: Digital Experience Platforms, Q3 2017 
  4. Emerging technology. Report: “Make Startup Acquisitions Part Of Your Digital Business Growth Strategy 
  5. Process automation. Report: “Refocus Process Automation To Rescue Your Digital Transformation 
  6. Innovation process. Report: “Accelerate Disruption With The Business Innovation Canvas 
  7. Technology. Report: “Build Technology Platforms To Accelerate Growth And Agility 
  8. Culture. Report: “Accelerate Your Culture Practices For Digital Transformation 
  9. Organization. Report: “Use Cross-Functional Teams To Execute Digital Business Strategy 
  10. Artificial intelligence. Report: “AI In Retail? Let’s Start With Automation In Retail