What makes a business successful? There are probably a million right answers to this question. Every great success story is somewhat unique. Some businesses become leaders thanks to exceptional cutting-edge products, others thanks to flawless services, still others thanks to the lowest price for the same quality. However, and quite remarkably, businesses that remain leaders over a long period of time often share some common traits.
Strong ambition for market leadership
First, leading businesses carry a strong ambition to become and remain leaders. Even in cases where companies became leaders effortlessly by creating a new market and being the first to serve it, maintaining a leadership position requires continuous ambition behind a business strategy and execution.
Another common characteristic among business leaders in their respective markets is the customer focus. Amazon is continuously cited and emulated as the perfect example of a customer-centric company. Amazon’s choice of products, website design, and delivery are all driven by the customer inputs. Myth has it that the management team even does regular and mandatory call-center workshops!
Continuous innovation appears to be required to maintain leadership. Customers are increasingly accustomed to changing products and less faithful to a particular brand. Being able to generate new appealing products is what separated Apple (leader…duh) from Nokia (remember it?).
Whatever your strategy, it needs a flawless execution of business processes to create long-term leadership. Amazon is not only customer-centric because it thinks about what a customer wants, the company manages to provide great service, consistently, every day, to millions of customers all over the world.
Strong corporate culture
Finally, a company needs a strong company culture to be able to pull off any of the above. Indeed, in the modern economy, whether we talk product or service, it all comes down to the people who share the company ambition and execute it in their everyday activities. Sure enough, when thinking about business leaders—Google, Apple, Amazon—all managed to build an extraordinary corporate culture.
If you are wondering how to make your business successful, think about how to incorporate several or all of the above characteristics. Right. But what has digital transformation got to do with any of that?
Well, in a nutshell, a business leader is always ahead of the curve. So when this curve is digital, the leader needs to stay ahead of it to remain relevant to its clients. Let’s think about it some more, starting from the end of our list up.
Successful digital transformation will push your corporate communications to another level, helping create, develop, and reinforce your corporate culture . Furthermore, corporate culture in today’s world is more about employee empowerment than top-down messaging. And user-centered digital workspaces are meant to boost employee performance.
Flawless execution is impossible without a digital strategy in nearly all industries. In today’s information-driven world, ensuring that relevant information flows to relevant people at relevant times, implementing fast digital-based processes and workflows, strengthening connections, and encouraging collaboration between business units are all indispensable to smooth business operations.
What better way to drive innovation and ideation in your company than through interactions between different departments and company-wide ideas management? In the pre-digital world, an R&D team was in charge of innovation. Today, leaders source innovation from the field thanks to company-wide knowledge-management tools. As a consequence, from ideation to product development, innovation is driven by insights into customer needs.
A customer-centered approach is also natural for companies that are successful in their digital transformation thanks to information flows from the field into the back functions (see blog post about it).
Finally, would you believe in the leadership ambition of a company that told you it operates without Internet in today’s world. Well, operating without a digital transformation strategy would be increasingly as shocking.
A leader needs to stay ahead of the curve.