All companies are becoming more digital. Sounds right enough, but let’s level set on the definition. At a minimum, digital companies make their offerings easy to find, easy to try, easy to buy, and easy to use. Beyond these basics, a digital company uses technology as a central element of value delivery. That can take many forms: how it interacts with customers, using tech as a two-way conduit for fully collaborating via customers’ inputs and applying core competencies to deliver something uniquely valuable. The analysis of all the digital interaction makes a treasure trove of insight with which to create value. It enables deep customization, even personalization, that is just not possible at scale without IT. Real-time automation is essential for that. And beyond being better at what they do today, digital companies introduce new products and services to market faster than a company that has not made the same commitment.
We’ll distinguish between digital companies and those that use tech in more traditional ways by way of examples. Consider restaurants, most of which have some automation in place. If the automation goes down, they will still be able to get meals out of the kitchen. But they won’t be able to accurately place orders, process payments efficiently, schedule staff effectively, control inventory, or accept new reservations.
Take the tech out of the restaurant and they’re still a restaurant. Take the tech out of Uber and there is no Uber. Similarly for AirBNB. Or FedEx. Or Amazon. Take the tech out and the company has no existence, save for salvaging fixed assets.
Just as some restaurants might feel a tech disruption more critically, another example that may be testing limits is a hospital. If the electronic health record system goes down, they will still treat patients. But the impacts on everything they do are becoming so profound that it may begin to jeopardize their ability to do no harm, let alone cure patients. Hospitals are approaching the tipping point beyond which their core mission – treating patients – may be impossible without all the benefits that technology delivers. They’ve become digital.
While becoming more digital has been a comparative advantage, it is rapidly becoming table stakes: having great technology will soon be not as important as not having it.
For all businesses, the fastest pathway to becoming a digital business is to make cloud computing the foundation upon which to build needed and desired capabilities. The cloud represents the fastest path to the key benefits all businesses will need: agility, elastic scale, redundancy, resiliency, high-performance network options, better cost trajectory, robust security, and access to a vast array of innovations.
As with the hospital example, some businesses are rapidly approaching the point where IT can no longer be yet another thing to manage. Being digital means using IT as the key enabling competency for the organization’s very reason for being. Cloud computing has become the only practical route to capitalizing on all the elements needed not just to compete, but to win.
In all likelihood, you have moved some workloads to the cloud, or taken advantage of capabilities delivered online as a service. You’ve begun the journey. See where it’s heading, and where your competitors are heading. See what’s possible.
Every company is a cloud company. Or should be.