Digital technology is creating new business models as well as new markets. Just consider, as an example, the iPhone.

In a few short years, a single device has disrupted 27 business models — everything from flashlight manufacturing to photography — and ushered in the age of the mobile app.

According to Richard Foster, author of Creative Destruction, “Markets outperform companies — they always have, with only occasional exceptions.” He adds, “You want to be one of the exceptions.”


Today, those exceptions are the digital experience (DX) leaders that control more than two-thirds of overall market share and nearly four-fifths of the profits.

Defining Digital

Traditionally, an organization found the audience for its products or services by marketing to them through a handful of available channels, such as television or print advertisements. It was a one-way arrangement that required a company to put its message before vast numbers of people in the hopes that a few of them would open their wallets.

But in the post-Internet world, consumers are as discerning as they are fragmented.

Once you locate your potential clientele, it’s not enough to pitch to them — you must engage with them.

Digital is a way of using technology to both locate and connect with your customers. It is about using data to create an authentic experience, says R “Ray” Wang, principal analyst, founder and chairman of Silicon Valley-based Constellation Research and the author of Disrupting Digital Business: Create an Authentic Experience in the Peer-to-Peer Economy.

Delivering DX

Because consumers do have so many choices — for products, services, information and entertainment — it can be difficult to determine whether or not your digital initiatives are working.

That’s why market leaders implement a unified multichannel DX experience across numerous touchpoints, including mobile. One way to pin down customers is to get them to come to you. Your website’s appearance, ease of navigation, content and speed are all factors to consider when you’re designing DX that will attract prospects to your brand.

You must also become obsessed with your customers.

To do that, you need to become technology-obsessed as well, said Ted Schadler, a vice president and principal analyst with Forrester Research.

That obsession should extend to digital communities where you can engage with customers. An online community lets you control your branding and deliver messages while offering prospective customers and partners the ability to ask questions and receive answers directly from you or other community members.

With your own digital real estate, you’ll enjoy the added benefit of owning the data, relationships and collaboration experience, rather than being at the mercy of third-party platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

DX is Transparent, for Better or Worse

These peer networks are the future of business. That’s because they’re all about facilitating dialog in a place where recommendations can flow freely and willingly.

That’s more important than ever in a world where consumers trust peer recommendations at such an astonishing level — 70 percent, as opposed to the 10 percent who trust advertisements. And the consequences of not adapting to the current environment couldn’t be more dire.

About 19 percent of customers lose trust with a company after one negative experience, 25 percent will find another provider based on a single bad encounter — and 30 percent will relate that experience to people they know.

Transparency is the key to building trust with today’s customers.

That means abolishing silos. Companies that are still divvying up resources to different departments such as IT and marketing for competing initiatives are in danger of hamstringing their brand’s digital experience.

The drive towards customer centricity is not the responsibility of a single entity within an organization. Rather, it should fall to each member within an organization. For DX to succeed, you must have a common purpose that everyone in your company understands and can get behind.

Missed Opportunities

In a successful DX, every touchpoint is an opportunity to engage with customers. It’s surprising then that so few companies are taking advantage of available technologies.

Organizations claim they are enthusiastic about growing their digital presence but, for many, that’s where the planning ends. A recent Forrester survey found 77 percent of firms rate mobile as a priority, but only 38 percent have mobilized their web pages.

Other findings include the fact that enterprises are managing too many customer-facing web pages (an average of 268 per company) and investing too little in responsive web design (only 36 percent are in the process of enhancing customers’ mobile experience using responsive web design).

“Transformational innovation,” as Wang calls it, is available right now.

Never in history have companies been able to scale mass personalization the way we can today. By more effectively using customer data — even that which may seem unimportant at first — businesses can build real relationships with customers that continue long after the sale.

With stakes that high and so many of your competitors taking a wait and see approach to DX, you have to ask yourself, “Will I be one of the exceptions?”

Title image by Jakub Skafiriak