Escaping Digital Darwinism, by Uma Kasoji

Author Brian Solis calls “Digital Darwinism” the phenomenon of technology and society evolving faster than organizations can adapt. Moving forward, most global organizations are viewing digital as a critical adaptation for their success. Failing to respond quickly and effectively could threaten a business’s survival.

Right, we’ve heard that a million times. The more interesting questions are these: are there factors that can make or break a digital transformation? What are the ripple effects to delaying the transformation process? What does survival even look like?

Survival of the fittest via Digital Darwinism

Having a rear view mirror in business would be nice. If we could see what was catching up on us, we would undoubtedly do things differently. But, have you ever seen a gazelle looking in a rear view mirror? Without a crystal ball, we must make decisions based on what is known and what is obvious. By 2018, according to IDC, one-third of leaders in virtually every industry will be disrupted, particularly by competitors that leverage third-party platforms to innovate new offerings, reach new customers, radically expand supply and go-to-market networks, and disrupt their industries’ cost and profit models.

What do they mean by that? We’ve all witnessed numerous businesses losing market value and relevance over time but often we are not sure why. Failure to adapt to industry dynamics means competitors who do evolve will have a major edge over those that don’t.

Where are we headed? By 2018, two-thirds of Global 2000 CEOs will have put digital transformation at the center of their corporate strategies. Most have already launched a digital initiative and are heavily investing in it. This trend is expected to continue and to grow. The ripple effect of this disruption will impact products and services, customer expectations, business models, technology, business processes and employee practices going forward. Additionally, between now and 2020, the percentage of enterprises creating advanced digital transformation initiatives will more than double, going from 22% to almost 50%.

Start by focusing on the customer experience

Repeat business is critical to a company’s success. Research shows that nearly 89% of customers will walk away from a company with which they have considered doing business after just one poor customer experience. Along those same lines, businesses are estimated to lose as much as 20% of their revenue from unsatisfactory customer experiences. This is surely something that can be fixed!

If you put digital initiatives to work in an organization, with the goal of improving customer service, enhancing customer experience and providing flexibility to customers, you might succeed at those three things, which would likely retain more of our customer base. However, if you continue to have disconnects between internal and external channels, there can still be misaligned information on inventory, customer data and service level commitments, which would likely undermine your initial success.

Let’s look at an example. A fast food restaurant launches a mobile application to enable customers to place orders. However, because the menu on the mobile app is not updated regularly, customers end up placing orders for items that are no longer available. Although the orders are confirmed on the mobile application, the restaurant cannot fulfill them due to lack of inventory, resulting in delays, cancellations and extreme customer dissatisfaction.

Mistakes like the example above can be avoided by fully analyzing the entire experience and the ripple effects before putting them into play. It is important to note that customer experience in today’s digital era is not limited to digital channels but cuts across online and physical channels, as well. Therefore, these initiatives must focus on providing a seamless end-to-end experience. Each digital initiative should be assessed to determine if it affects the customer and can be structured to deliver a more positive experience.

Can you escape Digital Darwinism? What gazelle-like attributes allow you to look ahead and around the corner to survive? I’m interested in knowing. Download my new article, “Getting Digital Right.”

Opinions expressed in this blog are of the author and may not represent Cognizant’s point of view.

Uma Kasoji

Uma is a versatile professional with extensive consulting and operations transformation experience across a variety of domains and geographies. She has been…

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Originally published at on August 30, 2016.