The Marketing Strategist:

The Urgency of Digital Reinvention: IBM’s Saul Berman Weighs In

April 5, 2017

  • Customer Experience & Success

For most companies, digitizing the business is not enough, according to Saul Berman, Chief Strategist at IBM Global Business Services. Full-scale digital reinvention is now an imperative, and companies hesitate at their peril.

In a new ITSMA Viewpoint, Berman discusses why B2B firms need to prioritize digital reinvention, how it starts with the customer experience, and ways to launch your digital reinvention journey. This excerpt provides Berman’s view on the urgency of reinvention and why companies are not moving fast enough.

ITSMA: Saul, what is digital reinvention and why is it the key to surviving in today’s economy?

Berman: Industry is in the throes of a digital shake-up as digital invaders upset the status quo. Companies need to use all available data to anticipate future risks, needs, and opportunities.

Customers’ expectations have never been higher, and the companies they interact with are held to constantly increasing standards. What you can do in your personal life is what you expect to do in your business life. The challenge is that we’ve had all this innovation in the consumer world and increasingly people come to work and they expect the same level of innovation. But the problem is most companies aren’t moving fast enough.

Additionally, new competitors attack traditional industry from different angles. In the future, you will likely not see your competition until they have taken significant market share.

Exhibit 1. The new economy requires digital reinvention: An example of the digital evolution of banking

An example of the digital evolution of banking
Source: © IBM Institute for Business Value analysis.

To thrive in the face of disruption, organizations need to embrace a new reality. They are no longer defined by the products they sell, but rather by the experiences they provide customers, employees, and business partners. It goes beyond digitizing your assets. Digitizing what you do today is not going to fix your problem. We’re talking about moving beyond digitizing. We’re even talking about moving beyond digitally transforming what you do today. Generally, when you’re transforming, you’re still doing what you do today. Digital reinvention is something bigger and more important. Digital reinvention is a fundamental reimagining of how an organization operates and how it engages with its environment. It is being in a totally new business. It is providing compelling new experiences, establishing new focus, building new areas of expertise, and devising new ways of working.

The world’s largest transportation company doesn’t own any assets. Media companies might argue, “But we have the content and content is king.” Guess who has more content than they do? Facebook. YouTube. Who’s the world’s largest retailer? Alibaba, but they don’t have any inventory. Who’s the world’s largest accommodations provider? Airbnb, but they don’t own any properties. All these legacy businesses are saying, “We win. Our businesses are defensible because we have the assets or we have the content.” Guess what? Transforming the way you do that and doing the same thing is not going to defend you from these kinds of innovations.

Companies need to get over the syndrome of trying to own everything; they need to think beyond the assumption of vertically integrating.

For the complete conversation, check out Digital Reinvention and the New Customer Experience, an ITSMA Viewpoint available at no charge to ITSMA members (password required) and for sale to everyone else.

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