However, digitalisation is also a huge opportunity for businesses across industries and sectors if they get it right.

Is your organisation mature enough to turn the challenge into an opportunity?

Why is it important to develop your digital maturity?

Opportunities brought by technological change are invariably seized by those that are more digitally mature. So to get ahead in the digital game, businesses need not only a top-notch digital strategy but also to devote themselves to improving their overall digital maturity – this is, the ability to adeptly respond to continual changes in the environment brought on by digitalisation. This means building and fostering the capabilities that enable a more agile, unafraid, digitally-savvy business. And this also means going beyond trendy technologies. It is about changing the way things are done all across the organisation.

When developing your digital maturity, there are some key elements to consider:

Organisation – the right skills and the right culture. Digital requires a different mindset, focused on experimentation and a confident ease with uncertainty. A fail-fast (and cheaply) approach. Of course, digitalisation also requires people with the right skillset for dealing with emerging technologies. Recruiting subject matter experts is a good start, but more mature companies make changes that impact the organisation with more depth, i.e. changes in structure, ways of working, metrics and incentives.

Customer experience – Digital maturity also means a capacity to better understand your customers, not only in retrospect but through real-time data. It also means the ability to deliver the experience they have grown to expect from the likes of Amazon and Spotify. This means going beyond launching a mobile app or a chatbot. It is about setting up the underlying infrastructure, processes and partnerships to enable a reimagined, personalised, data-driven experience for customers. It also means developing new products and services based on true customer intimacy.

Digital ecosystems – Digitalisation brings a rapid degree of change, which can be difficult to keep up with. This makes it hard for businesses to do it all by themselves. It is therefore essential to have more open collaboration with external partners such as application developers, technology specialists or providers of complementary services. But a digital ecosystem is more than a set of arms-length partnerships. It is a network of interdependent contributors who team up to create mutual value. This requires a whole new set of capabilities, ranging from the technical (i.e. open IT stacks and APIs) through to operational (i.e. how to support our ecosystem partners) to cultural (i.e. are we ready for open collaboration?). So, have you started to define your digital ecosystem strategy yet?

Digital innovation – innovation is always necessary in business. What is different in a digital world is that it becomes more open and faster-paced. Lean experimentation through rapid prototyping and early customer feedback is essential. Indeed, co-creation with both customers and ecosystem partners is required to keep pace with the rate of digital innovation. That means having the right skills, incentives and mechanisms to cultivate and leverage innovation happening inside and outside of the company’s boundaries. And this is linked to nurturing the external ecosystem as well as having the right technology infrastructure to enable such agile, open innovation.

Technology and automation – naturally, there is a technology element in digitalisation. Digitally mature organisations tend to have an enterprise architecture that is fit for digital. One that is based on key principles: simplicity, standards-based, modular, API-enabled and designed for openness and automation. In short, the technology landscape must be the enabler of the agility, openness and responsiveness a digital business requires.

Where to begin?

Digitalisation is unavoidable, and it can be disruptive. Developing your company’s digital maturity will help you convert a digital challenge into a golden opportunity.

Step one should therefore be to establish your current level of digital maturity, which will help you create a common goal and language across your organisation. It will also help identifying strengths and most importantly, key weaknesses that may need immediate attention. Having built a detailed picture of your current situation as well as a target position, you can then determine the most suitable initiatives to begin with and create an ambitious yet realistic digitalisation roadmap. One focused on developing a digital maturity that enables your company to best approach the digital challenge ahead.

If your industry has not yet been disrupted, how long will it be until it happens? And, indeed, could you be sufficiently mature to be the disruptor?

Originally published in Børsen Ledelse.