An accelerated digital vision and strategy puts customers first, competitors second

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December 10, 2020


It’s increasingly clear that previously competitive businesses without digital-first models are now scrambling to adapt to customer needs that change exponentially. It’s digital first, digital fast or bust.

Though many companies have invested in online technology over the past decade, a recent report by content management leader Contentful found 66% of business leaders believe they’re lagging behind competitors in delivering optimal digital experiences.

If your business is struggling, you’re not alone 

Many companies can point to a flawed or outdated digital approach resulting in one or a combination of issues, including

  • A foundation built on clunky, disconnected technologies

  • A reliance on expensive platform maintenance, plus painfully slow and/or infrequent system updates

  • Frustration with your system’s inability to expand or integrate with newer technologies

  • A customer experience susceptible to brand inconsistencies

  • A falling customer net promoter score and reduced overall customer satisfaction

  • An increase in customer support inquiries

  • Decreased ROI

The good news is that there’s still hope to resuscitate your bottom line. But it’s not about playing catch-up with your competitors in the traditional way; it’s about keeping your customer’s attention in a digital-first market. This means embracing a customer-first approach across all channels and every level of your organization.

Don’t just survive, thrive

The next phase in business transformation is about having the flexibility to quickly address shifts in customer mindset, as well as the ability to adapt rapidly when something like a pandemic throws your business plans into upheaval.

To transform into a business that’s thriving, pinpoint your opportunities piece by piece, put your money where your growth is, build your dream team, be light on your tech toes, and be comfortable with failure. Here’s what that means.

Pinpoint your opportunities piece by piece

Be ambitious yet methodical in your approach by adopting an accelerated digital vision that makes every business decision with a customer-first mindset.

To shorten the time from business vision to customer value:

  1. Extract smaller, more achievable and actionable strategy sprints from your longer-term business goals, and execute them over the course of weeks — not months

  2. Pinpoint key challenges and opportunities for each strategy sprint through input from customers and key stakeholders to establish clear, concise and quantifiable objectives

  3. Use successive sprints as stepping stones to reach your long-term business goals by providing incremental value to customers and building upon your small successes 

  4. Be nimble and expect to pivot or adjust, especially early on if your initial results aren’t meeting your objectives

This approach helps you avoid spending an enormous amount of time and money on the longer-term delivery of multiple features that may or may not succeed, or may quickly become obsolete.

Put your money where your growth is

According to a BCG Henderson Institute survey of leading organizations, as of May 2020, only 38% of companies had modified their investment and capital allocation plans to target new growth opportunities, and less than half of that 38% made investments in new business models.

However, you can start small with your customer-first strategies by allocating capital to proven growth pathways. We’re talking a few weeks or months of effort on a much smaller budget than the fiscally taxing, year-long or more development cycle you may be used to.

Build your dream team

When it comes to your team, it’s not a matter of assigning whomever is available to tackle the present challenge. This is your opportunity to empower your team’s agility, to nurture a company culture that embraces customer-centric digital thinking as part of the solution.

  • Put the right people on the project; consider a third-party expert to accelerate initial delivery while your team learns the ropes

  • Evaluate existing staff for their willingness to adapt and learn new technologies 

  • Set up lean, dedicated, cross-functional teams

  • Give them a clear mandate

  • Grant them a licence to create and innovate

Be light on your tech toes

Don’t make technology investments in isolation. It’s about using innovative options that offer you the flexibility to extend, pivot and adapt to change. Look to:

  • Lighter, faster, more agile and cost-effective platforms rather than investing in a single behemoth software suite

  • Cloud-based technologies instead of software anchored by expensive and maintenance-heavy servers

  • Software with the power and flexibility to integrate with partner technologies, as well as to interface with your legacy systems

Failing is okay (and relatively cheap)

Don’t be afraid to fail. The quick, iterative, low-cost nature of strategy sprints means that failure is not a critical malfunction. Instead, it serves as your research and development department, your research and rapid prototyping function. You’re not spending time and money on excessive technologies, you’re testing short-term and low-cost solutions with real users. You’re seeing and analyzing results almost immediately, and pivoting quickly if they’re not meeting performance expectations. You’re shortening the time to value by failing fast or pushing GO!

Tactics, technology, time and teams

Though no one can predict the future, it’s never been more clear that smart investments in technology, time and teams power the future-ready business. Invest in new and emerging technologies built by established, leading companies to elevate your organizational intelligence and power highly differentiated customer experiences. Adjust your timelines to shorten the path to delivering value to your customers and, most importantly, build a team that embraces the customer-first mindset to develop successful digital solutions.

At Apply Digital, we specialize in helping businesses build more agile systems, offer faster value to customers and work smarter in the customer-first landscape. Contact us at to find out how we can help you move your business forward and deliver the experiences your customers want and expect.

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