Why becoming digital is only the first step
BY MICHAEL KUGLER
It’s constantly about the crucial question: “How do I best digitalise?” And needless to say, this is also a frequent question at Contentserv. In this article, we would like to show you why Running Digital is just the first step on an extensive journey, and why the topic of digitalisation is still very much in its infancy.
But let’s start at the beginning – with the first step and an example. If we look at athletes today, and runners in particular, they are equipped with the most diverse technical devices. Their pulse is monitored and the course revisited following training: where were the fastest and slowest sections of the course? Nowadays, the answers to this and many other questions are provided by little “helpers”, such as mobile phone apps for example, that accompany us throughout the day, measuring and tracking everything that is even remotely of importance. Usually, the gear is purchased before actual training commences. After all, runners want to be equipped with the latest state-of-the-art technology to enable them to achieve their goals – be it a ten-kilometre run or a marathon.
Things were very different back in the summer of 1960, when an Ethiopian attracted the world’s attention during what was probably his most important race: Abebe Bikila was the first African to win Gold in the marathon in Rome with a time of 2:21:23. Barefoot. He was the first to cross the finishing line – without shoes or any other technical gear. Abebe Bikila and the runners of today could not be more different, yet they do have one thing in common: nowadays, athletes still have to do the running themselves, just as they did almost 60 years ago, because despite all the advancements in technology, when it comes to measuring and tracking, runners still have to put the work in themselves.
But what precisely does running have to do with digitalisation? The findings from the above example can also be applied to any company facing the challenge of digital transformation, or those facing it in the future. The initial impulse in Digital Running has to come from the company itself. Innovative ideas and smart technologies help to simplify the process; this is similar to the way a fitness tracker provides runners with a clear overview of their training progress, therefore helping them reach their targets faster. But the company itself has to take the first step. The most important thing is to take this step in a well-considered manner and to not just rush off in a haphazard way. Blind actionism is not expedient, particularly on the journey towards digitalisation – as you can lose sight of what is important too quickly, and deviate from the set path. However, if you approach the project in a structured manner and set yourself realistic targets that can also be achieved by means of methodical action, you will be on the right path to transitioning from ‘Running Digital’ to ‘Digital Running’ – being digital. After Running Digital, Digital Running is the second, more arduous, step. By the way: this journey is never-ending. Because unlike in sport, the finishing line in digitalisation is dynamic: in addition to you, the race also involves your potential clients and competitors, all giving their best to get closer to that finishing line. However, they too are very unlikely to ever cross the line, but they can try everything in their power to ensure they increasingly widen the gap between you and them. For this reason, in the race against time you must absolutely ensure that you never lose sight of your rivals and, above all, that you remain very close to your customers.
How can this be achieved? Start with yourself. The Alpha and Omega of both Running Digital and Digital Running is your focus. Ensure you are data-focused and start with your own data – because your product data are worth its weight in gold. Concentrate on those treasures that lie dormant within your company. Managing to link these data to customer data and your knowledge of these customers in a structured manner will make you unbeatable. Here it is useful to constantly remind yourself of the two cornerstones of digitalisation. The first key element is technology. Smart technologies customised to your requirements will help you master your product data and systematically manage them with the greatest possible quality. Intelligent algorithms not only enable you to collate information on your customers, they also allow you to structure it, analyse it, put it into a logical context and to then use the findings as the basis for new decisions. You have to invest at least as much energy in this process as you do in collecting data.
In a nutshell: get to know your customers! Today, you don’t have to run your own race against time, barefoot and without gear like Abebe Bikila. Don’t consider whether digitalisation is necessary, but rather how you should approach the project – and ensure you get the timing right. Because you can quickly lose sight of your competitors. Exploit technology; it acts as a catalyst for corporate success, allowing you to react flexibly to changes within your market environment, to overcome obstacles and to always monitor whether you are on the right track. However, what is frequently neglected here is the second cornerstone of digitalisation: culture. This relates to the people, the team and the entire environment that make a company or a product what it is. Digitalisation is a team sport, and everybody has to pull his or her weight. Without the necessary team spirit, a challenging project such as this soon becomes an insurmountable obstacle race. If you are able to optimally interweave man and technology, you will have the perfect prerequisites to also be a frontrunner in the future. This is the only way you will be able to manage the transition from becoming digital to being digital, and ultimately remaining digital.
As a marketing software manufacturer and technology leader in Product Information Management and Digital Asset Management, CONTENTSERV simplifies the marketing work of thousands of international users each and every day with its marketing content platform. CONTENTSERV has been a market player for more than 17 years, drawing on vast expertise acquired from hundreds of projects.
Picture by Daniel Olah on Unsplash