It’s time for business executives to wake up and smell the digital coffee, Forrester Research says in a new report to be released on Monday.

While a group of 1,254 global executives surveyed by Forrester knew digital was a disruptive threat, they don’t think their business will be impacted and hold little confidence in their management team to create an effective digital strategy. The findings are published by Forrester in a paper that encourages chief marketing officers to go beyond a strategy of “bolting on” digital channels and take a more holistic digital approach.

“You need to transform your business by applying digital thinking across everything you do – how you win, serve and retain customers, how you operate your internal processes and how you source business services. In short, you must become a digital business,” the paper states.

Among the executives surveyed by Forrester, 93 per cent believe digital will disrupt their business in the next 12 months. Even for industries that you might assume would be less prone to digital disruption, such as mining and construction, 64 per cent of executives still believe their industries will be affected in the near future.

More than half of executives believe that digital technologies are a major driver of business strategy. But only a third of executives believe they’re taking the right approach, and only one-fifth believe the right people are setting the strategy for their business. For the executives that do feel they have the right strategy, less than one in six have faith in their staff’s skills and competencies to execute on it.

Forrester Research says that digital will have an impact on every area of business.
Forrester Research says that digital will have an impact on every area of business.

So how should a business become digital? According to Forrester, the answer is to think like your customers do. When they have a problem, they use instantly available products and services that deliver value. So it’s key to be creating those digital tools and putting them in the hands of your customers, helping them to assemble their own solutions to problems.

As an example of this, Forrester puts forward Fidelity Investments and its partnership with Yodlee. It allows customers to track their financial accounts as well as airline miles and loyalty accounts in one place, and add fees from Bloomberg, CNBC, or Yahoo.

Instead of siloing those customer digital touchpoints, businesses should go beyond treating digital as just a channel and instead concentrate on a complete digital experience, Forrester says.


Forrester’s report also comes with a self-audit score card to help you asses where you stand on the digital business transformation. Watch for its release on Monday.

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