Digital Transformation Success Stories: 5 Businesses That Managed To Evolve Into Digital-First Brands
(This article was updated on 19 July 2021)
Digital transformation isn’t a new challenge for businesses, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more urgent. Companies today are increasingly seeing the need to supercharge their agility, speed, and decision-making using digital solutions. Yet, for most companies, digital transformation remains a work in progress. Many companies have yet to apply digital transformation at a scale that creates impact. Or to create a company culture that supports and promotes innovation. Some others have yet to leave the drawing board at all.
How can companies accelerate their digital transformation journeys? We take a look at 5 companies that have successfully created a vision for the future, evolving their businesses to adapt to the world of tomorrow.
- Identifying industry trends and becoming a first mover in the digital age
Like many players in the food and beverage industry, Chipotle has been forced to quickly evolve in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thankfully, the hard work had already been done in the years before. CEO Brian Niccol saw the opportunity in 2018 to pivot into a digital-first fast food chain, expanding investment to Chipotle’s digital offerings such as a new digital rewards program. As a result, Chipotle fully embraced the digital food delivery industry. It introduced pick-up portals for delivery drivers and even dedicated drive through lanes for customers to pick up their online orders remotely.
That meant that when the pandemic hit and competitors were struggling to go digital, Chipotle could capitalise on the new opportunities that emerged. It introduced a new marketing analytics group, that shifted its traditional media spend in live sports to online competitions for esports and new social media channels such as TikTok. It has also partnered with YouGov to perform a survey on how social distancing has impacted people’s diet and lifestyles, reimagining its menu by offering more healthy options in response.
Source: Harvard Business Review
- Embracing new technologies to make your business services and products more attractive to consumers in the digital age
When you look at what IKEA has done over the past decade, it is clear that it is as much a digital business as a furniture one. One of the biggest challenges in buying furniture has always been ensuring that what is on display is actually right for you. In response, IKEA has turned to augmented reality technologies to revolutionise the customer shopping experience. The IKEA Place allows customers to try out furniture in their homes before making a purchase decision. New products, such as smart switches, and lamps, further place IKEA at the forefront of the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution. These digital transformations show IKEA’s commitment to stay relevant to the online-first customer of tomorrow.
- Even incumbent, successful firms have room for digital transformation. Going digital can be a major competitive advantage for businesses traditionally in the ‘legacy’ world.
Even technology companies, supposedly already the pioneers of digital, can reap the benefits of digital transformation. In early 2015, Microsoft faced a set of fundamental choices. The firm saw opportunities to serve customers in ways that would be associated with higher growth but lower margin. Some of these opportunities involved a shift from perpetual licensing to subscription sales. The business soon realised that scale was the way forward. Therefore over the last decade, Microsoft has seen an accelerated shift towards cloud computing. It introduced Office 365, which offered the same tools the regular desktop version did, but through the cloud instead. This allowed it to shift towards a subscription model, cementing its position as the enterprise solutions giant and positioning the company well for the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, where the future of work looks to be remote.
Source: Harvard Business Review
- Embracing digital opportunities to skip the middle man, connecting with customers directly to uncover opportunities to identify preferences and build brand loyalty
Nobody is immune to digital transformation, not even the fashion industry. Just like many others in the consumer and fashion industry, Nike had been heavily affected by COVID-19. In response, Nike boosted its digital strategy and its direct sales. Central to this has been Nike’s digital ecosystem. The Nike App, Nike Training Club and Nike Run Club were all hubs for its customers and athletes during the pandemic, with a library of free digital workouts. It also launched a SNKRS app, intended for sneaker heads, offering limited-release, high demand shoes for its most-engaged customers. Through its ecosystem, Nike collects data to identify customer preferences and to design new products. As a result, Nike has increasingly skipped the retailer to connect to its customers directly.
Source: Harvard Business Review
5. Coca Cola
- Digital transformation in the supply chain to go further and faster, saving time and money in the process
If you want to guarantee competitiveness in today’s markets, an organization needs to optimise its supply chain. And the best way to optimise a supply chain is through digital transformation. The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC) and its bottlers, Coca-Cola Bottlers’ Sales and Services (CCBSS) have been advocates in using digital services to enhance its supply chain. For instance, TCCC is required to provide evidence of the fulfilment of goods and services to customers. With electronic proof of delivery, TCCC was able to digitise the previously manual process to minimise communications breakdowns and human errors. As a result, it turned what was a hitherto confusing process into a streamlined system that can process orders with greater quality, speed, and accuracy.
It doesn’t happen overnight. Digital transformation initiatives succeed when they are incremental, cost-effective and sustainable. Therefore businesses need to focus on outcomes, deploying high-calibre talent and monitoring progress every step of the way. While the examples cited above may be big multi-nationals, digital transformation is important for all industries and companies, big or small. In the relocation industry, home search companies can think about using video chats or virtual reality software to take home viewing remote. Immigration companies can consider using chat boxes and AI software to help customers troubleshoot problems 24/7, 365. And all players can benefit from cloud solutions to improve their business operations, helping employees collaborate better than ever before.