Digital-first strategy reaps rewards

The Google building in Silicon Valley a digital-first company

Embracing a digital-first approach to your business strategy helps you keep ahead of competitors, says Robbie Clutton, director of Pivotal Labs, the software development consulting firm

Today’s successful businesses are those bringing a digital-first approach to the heart of their strategy.

Through new applications, services, and software, companies will find innovative ways to answer traditional customer demands. Digital – and the convenience it offers – is now the differentiator; organisations not embracing this revolution will fall behind as competitors use technology to ready their operating model for this new world.

Some of the world’s biggest digital companies are based in Silicon Valley; and while it represents the pinnacle of technology-led achievement, it doesn’t have a monopoly on success and disruptive ideas.

What sets the region apart is its emphasis on agile and iterative processes and the enthusiasm to embrace the latest digital tools. In many ways, Silicon Valley’s success comes from its state of mind: innovating constantly, so the business stays at the top of its game. Companies that want to thrive need to remember what it means to have this mindset:

Digital-first strategy: embrace software

Demand is the backbone of any business shift and as consumers continue to embrace technology, companies are forced to think about how to utilise that appetite in the delivery of their own products or services.

Deliveroo demonstrates this perfectly – turning the food-delivery industry on its head by centring its go-to-market strategy around consumer demand for mobile-first experiences in a competitive food-delivery market.

Companies need to consider how they will go from being good businesses, to good software businesses. This means listening to customers, monitoring for future trends and engaging with them accordingly. It’s about adapting to fit the customers’ agenda.

Technology should offer greater speed

Industries are being carved out from the middle, with smaller start-ups emerging to dethrone today’s market leaders. While change is nothing new, it is only the speed of change that is so frightening. And every business, regardless of size, knows inherently that fundamental change is the only solution.

Time is of the essence; speed of development and deployment is the top priority and being a truly modern business is about acting as quickly as possible, getting ahead of competitors, responding to customer demands, and, crucially, figuring out the needs of the market – for both today and tomorrow – and working out how to address them.

Get ready to adapt or die

It is easy to get stuck in the belief that Silicon Valley’s success comes only from its emphasis on technology; taking a lead from the Valley is more than upgrading your organisation’s IT. It’s about being an agile business; the type of business that – when something isn’t working – is ready to change.

Organisations that fail to see themselves as a software or digital business risk opening the door for disruption in their markets, with competitors and newcomers waiting to move in and offer customers new experiences.

Remember that the Silicon Valley approach is a project that’s never finished. If you’re not adapting, you’re standing still. And those who stand still won’t be standing for much longer.

About author

Robbie Clutton

Robbie Clutton

With over 10 years' software development experience in London and New York, Robbie Clutton is now director of Pivotal Labs in London. Through working in product teams and consultancy, he has experienced working with start-ups, not-for-profit companies and multinational organisations, and through Pivotal Labs helps companies build sustainable product delivery teams

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