There’s an old mantra that no one really believes anymore: too big to fail. Tell that to the dinosaurs. In the past 20 years, business has undergone a critical pivot. We’ve moved from the age of scale, when the winners were vertically integrated monoliths with vast purchasing power, through the age of information to a business environment dominated by platforms, digital ecosystems, and lean, laser-focused startups that integrate forward to solve customer problems. But don’t be fooled into thinking it’s “just a unicorn thing.” You don’t have to look far to find examples of older firms that are emulating this digital native behavior: BBVA, BMW, Deloitte, or Herman Miller — banking, cars, audit, and office furniture. Words such as “incumbent,” “traditional,” “legacy,” and “inertia” easily spring to mind. These firms have global product design, manufacturing, supply chain, and distribution. They have thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of employees. You can’t possibly describe any of them as startups. Yet here they are, challenging traditional thinking, launching new business models:

  • BBVA commercialized its APIs to position itself as an open banking leader.
  • BMW launched a pay-as-you-go car sharing service.
  • Deloitte digitized its core audit capability to launch a platform to connect independent accountants to small businesses.
  • Herman Miller built a digital business platform that takes data from connected office furniture to optimize facilities management.

The common thread here isn’t technology; it’s business — incumbent businesses, and often massive ones, leveraging technology to unlock new business opportunity. This demands a different mindset. A startup mindset. Will they all succeed? Hell no. Will they all learn something? You betcha. Should you emulate them? YES! It’s no coincidence that Telefónica runs a startup investment hub or that Nestlé launched a digital innovation center in Silicon Valley. There’s a fundamental shift underway in business. Technology changes the dynamics of business. This is not new, but it is more important and more urgent than ever. Your relationship to technology is critical. How well you internalize technology and capitalize on the benefits it brings will make or break your future success. The firms that win in today’s hypercompetitive, disruption-prone business environments won’t be too big to fail; they’ll be too fast to fail. This is the next stage of digital transformation. You’ve built the teams and capabilities, and you’ve bought the technology and established the partnerships. Now, you need to turn the underlying capabilities into business opportunity. On June 14 and 15, we’ll be diving into exactly that at the InterContinental in London. Digital Transformation Europe 2018 showcases the latest analyst insights, combined with actionable industry case studies from the likes of Elsevier, Lloyds, and Office Depot to help you build your digital business. We hope you’ll join us there.