What Traditional Companies Must Do to Survive in the Digital Age

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CRM & Tech : 8 min read

What Traditional Companies Must Do to Survive in the Digital Age

It’s happening. Technology is taking over the world.

Which isn’t a bad thing—in fact, it could be taking your business to new heights. That is, if you’re keeping up with the changes… or up to speed with them at all.

The scary part? Many traditional companies aren’t.

In today’s business climate, digital transformation is inevitable. Even traditionally boring industries like finance and real estate have figured this out, with some going as far as rebranding themselves as hip new “fintech” and “proptech” companies.

If you’re an owner or manager at a more “old-fashioned” company, keep reading. This article will give you some real-life examples of traditional companies turned modern, and cover some pointers on executing your own digital transformation with success.

Be a Netflix, not a Blockbuster.

We’re sure you’ve heard the old Blockbuster-vs-Netflix tale.

And if you haven't, here’s the synopsis: Blockbuster was doing great. Technology happened and Netflix entered the picture. Blockbuster failed to evolve. Blockbuster is no longer in business and Netflix is now worth billions.

“Being a Netflix” is easier said than done though, we get it. The thought of transforming aspects of your business that are, well, tradition can be daunting.

​The reality is, however, that the successful organizations of the future will be the ones that are able to keep up with consumer (and employee) demands—which, in many cases, includes adapting to new technologies and business strategies.

In fact, according to Deloitte, organizational design was at the top of the list as the most important trend in the Global Human Capital Trends survey for two years in a row.

organizational design was at the top of the list as the most important trend in the Global Human Capital Trends survey

Why? Because the way that the top organizations are run today is very different from how they were a few decades ago. (For one thing, we have internet now.)

Despite this, many organizations are still holding on to the same business model they’ve been operating under since they were founded—legacy technology and all.

You can do better.

Before we get into the how, here are some examples of companies that have been around for a while, but let go of some of their traditional roots and flourished through digital transformation.

Real-life success stories: companies that did digital transformation right

When in doubt about trying something new, look at those who did so before you—and who did it well.

Here are three companies that are killing it with digital transformation.

1. Domino’s

Yep, the pizza store. Not exactly what comes to mind when you think of innovative tech companies, right?

Think again.

Domino’s disrupted the pizza delivery game when they became the first joint to launch an online pizza tracker.

domino's pizza tracker.
A tracker letting you see the exact status of your pizza in real time? Gotta love technology.

This idea was met with raving reviews from customers, and has since led other pizza stores to follow suit, releasing their own trackers.

domino's pizza tracker tweet.
This is a great example of a traditional company proactively harnessing technology.

People will always want fresh pizza delivered to them. So, Domino’s is pretty much in the clear from being abolished by the internet (unlike many other businesses). But they decided that wasn’t good enough, and figured out a way to get pizza to people more easily by providing a better experience. This out-of-the-(pizza)-box thinking got them ahead of their competitors in a way that wouldn’t be possible without Digital.

We said it earlier: technology taking over isn’t a bad thing—it can be great. (Like knowing when your pizza is out for delivery.)

2. Capital One

Founded in 1988 and rising to one of the top 10 largest banks in the US, Capital One decided they wanted to be more than just a bank; they wanted to be a tech company too.

Capital One’s CIO, Rob Alexander, explained why in an interview with Computerworld:

“The winners in banking are going to be really great technology companies. It didn't use to be the case historically that you really needed to be a great software development company and a great analytics company, but it's really important today.”

The fact was, they were relying more and more on the internet—so the company’s executives decided to harness this and redefine banking in the modern day.

With this forward thinking, Capital One made the decision to become a cloud-based business (doesn’t get much more 21st century than that), partnering with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to implement the new infrastructure.

Talk about a winning attitude. We told you, even financial companies are transforming.

How is Capital One doing today? We’ll let their stock price answer that one.

3. 21st Century Fox

This one is a good example of how just one new piece of tech can make a world of difference in the way you operate—in the best way possible.

21st Century Fox is a huge company employing 22,000+ employees. So, you can imagine the challenge they must face when it comes to collaborating and communicating effectively across the company (just think of all those “CC’ing you as an FYI!” emails).

But it isn’t so challenging anymore, because they implemented one specific piece of tech: Slack.

Slack is a communication platform that lots of new-age companies (and millennials) use to instantly exchange messages and share files either one-on-one or within groups. It’s basically a way (wayyy) cooler and more user-friendly version of Skype for Business. Thanks to its extensive list of integrations, it also makes for a great collaboration or project-management tool.

Slack helped transformed one media property at 21st Century Fox in particular: Fox Sports.

In fact, during the 2018 FIFA World Cup™, Fox Sports used Slack as their central collaboration hub. This allowed them to bring together all the teams involved in capturing the event, from on-site production, tech teams, and the rest of the organization all spread out throughout different cities in the US and Russia into one virtual location.

John Herbert, CIO at 21st Century Fox, said in an interview with Slack that they don’t plan on backing down from Digital anytime soon:

slack interview with 21st century fox
John Herbert, CIO at 21st Century Fox, said in an interview with Slack that they don’t plan on backing down from Digital anytime soon:

“Given the success we saw with the FIFA World Cup™ coverage in particular, we’ve proven internally how Slack can transform a live sporting event and turn it into a shared global moment across the business. I want to see Slack being used wall-to-wall by the end of 2018 so we can continue to deliver the best experience to our viewers in this new digital world.”

And the key takeaway is…

Digital transformation isn’t just about implementing new tech. It’s about changing the way your team works together and gets things done so you can better serve who it’s all about: your customers.

Here are some things you can start doing today for your company’s long-term success:

1. Know your customer.

Consumers are a lot more dynamic now than they were years ago.

It’s important to know how your customers are going to react to any major changes you make to the way your business operates.

Here are some of today’s consumer trends, according to a Google Insight Report. While these were generally started by Millennials, these buying patterns are being picked up by more and more GenX and Baby Boomers as well, in both the B2B and B2C context:

  • Consumers want to be able to find out as much information as possible about a product without having to talk to a sales rep.
  • Consumers are always on the hunt for a deal, even if it means they have to shop multiple channels to find it.
  • Many consumers are willing to spend more at a company if they feel that its values align with their own, out of support.

It may be a surprise to some, but Baby Boomers aren’t far behind Millennials in the online shopping department according to one source:

baby boomers vs. millennials shopping habits.

2. Move to the cloud.

Take a page out of Capital One’s book.

Here are just a few benefits of moving to a cloud-based system:

  • Unlike on-premise software, cloud-based systems are updated frequently (and usually, automatically), meaning you’ll always be using the latest tools.
  • They’re a lot more scalable. Oftentimes, a single click on an “Upgrade” button will allow you to grow your software along with your business. No need to throw out or replace physical hardware.
  • Your data is safeguarded by the cloud vendor’s enterprise-level security measures, so you don’t need to worry about your data if your own server were to be compromised.
  • Many cloud-based systems let you integrate directly with other tech, letting you branch out and customize your stack with ease.

For starters, might we recommend a cloud-based CRM?

3. Automate (almost) everything.

Humans make mistakes.

Take data entry, for example. In the best-case scenarios, our manual error rate is 5-10 mistakes per 100 entries. In worst-case scenarios, this error rate can go up to 30%.

If you’re still using spreadsheets to manage your data, it might be time to switch to a more effective solution. Why not start some free CRM trials and find one that fits your team?

As for all the other manual stuff like emails, meeting scheduling, sales reporting… there’s a better way to do those too. It’s called automation software. Here are some examples:

  • Email marketing: Email automation software like Constant Contact can be used to automatically send emails to prospects as soon as they complete certain actions on your website. (That’s definitely something you can’t do manually.)
  • Meeting scheduling: There are multiple (free!) Google extensions you can add to your browser that’ll help streamline the way you schedule meetings. Assistant.to is just one example. Copper also has a built-in meeting scheduler that syncs directly with your Google Calendar.
  • Sales reporting: CRM will automate sales reporting for you so you’re able to see the health of your sales pipeline at a glance, meaning you can spend less time creating reports and more time making improvements to your sales process (with up-to-date data).
copper crm's sales dashboard.
Copper’s “Sales” dashboard shows you your conversion and win rates at any specified time. No manual report-generating needed.

You can learn more about automating your sales process here.

The right tools will save you a ton of time, reduce the amount of errors that are caused by doing things manually, make your sales process workflows much easier to keep track of—and help you manage your customer relationships like a boss.

Welcome to the 21st century.

To be clear, we’re not saying throw away your company’s traditions, we’re just saying you need to be flexible enough to find your balance between the old and the new. That balance will be your digital transformation.

Don’t get beat out by a streaming service. Build a pizza tracker, move to the cloud, and make sure your tech stack is putting in work. Do what you need to do to survive.

Hey, the digital age isn’t going anywhere, so why not join it?