Is being a Digital Business for you?

This post builds on our introduction to what it takes to be a digital business and takes us through the next steps of our Digital Business series to bring clarity on where your efforts fit towards achieving it.

In no uncertain terms, the future belongs to those that put technology at the centre of their outlook, capabilities, and leadership mandate.

“Every company is a software company. You have to start thinking and operating like a digital company. It’s no longer just about procuring one solution and deploying one. It’s not about one simple software solution. It’s really you yourself thinking of your own future as a digital company.” – Satya Nadella CEO, Microsoft

Several “poster Digital Business brands” put digital and software at their core to disrupt their target industries. These included Uber (taxi & deliveries), Tesla (cars), Amazon (books & retail), Bloomberg (news & fintech), Revolut (payments & banking).

However, not everyone wants to, needs to or can be a digital unicorn.

Putting technology at the centre of your outlook, capabilities and leadership mandate

While visionary businesses like Microsoft, Amazon, Accenture, Palantir and other big firms are driving the message of the intelligent digital advantage, Deloitte research identifies how most companies are taking a much less aggressive approach to digital. This is either caused by the business’s economic situation or investment strongly aligned to a much lower risk appetite. The outcome of such strategic approaches favours the digitalisation of existing business processes using app modernisation, product focus and automation.

If we read in between the lines, this is a nice way of saying the business is thinking in terms of “How can we use digital to optimise and sell more of our existing product?” prioritising investments towards:

  • Modernising the IT stack, e.g. moving applications to the cloud
  • Pushing products via digital channels and digital marketing
  • Projects to address customer experience delivery
The 2020 Future of Leadership Global Executive Study and Research Report finds that leaders may be holding on to behaviours that might have worked once but now stymie the talents of their employees.

These initiatives, while foundational to help a business start embracing digital, are mostly regarded as tweaks. On their own, they are insufficient to fundamentally re-shape the way you create long-term sustainable value. This means that before too long, the digitalisation investments in progress will quickly need to be retired and require additional investment to replace with new capabilities in line with new customer and go-to-market demands.

Digital Business is all about thinking along the lines of “how can we use technology to re-imagine the way we help and deliver value to our customers, present and future?” to drive accelerated and sustainable revenue growth.

To avoid doubt, both approaches are equally viable and differentiated mainly by the desired outcomes of the business case and the expected rate of transformation.
Net-net, it all goes back to the purpose of your investment case.

Suppose your business mandate is about optimising how you work today and waiting to see what will happen to your industry to make bolder moves down the line. In that case, you have a sound decision in approaching modernisation via digitalisation.

If, however, your investment case is about creating aggressive growth and capturing a new dimension of customers, you may need to re-think your approach.

Wrapping Up

Summarising our progress, in our Digital Business (DB) series journey so far, we

Explore the rest of the "Digital Business" series:

# Topic Link
DB-01 Unpack what it takes to be a Digital Business Open
DB-02 Is being a Digital Business for you? (This Post)
DB-03 Putting digital landscapes into perspective Open
DB-04 Set your Digital Business north star Open
DB-05 Changing the business while running the business Open
DB-06 Understanding the Digital Business Mindset Open
DB-07 Top 5 Key traits Digital Leadership should have Open
DB-08 Unlocking Digital Business Agility Open
DB-O9 Top 8 capabilities you need to be a Digital Business Open


  • There is no one-size-fits-all solution for companies to become Digital Businesses.
  • It is only in uniting people, products & processes through a common vision, a deeply felt purpose, and a broadly shared dream that will continue to motivate stakeholders to push on and persevere.
  • Many paths can lead to your desired destination. Each route while equally viable have varying degrees of complexity, sophistication and completeness.

My purpose in the series is to share lessons learned in building global software businesses to help you achieve a Digital Business with assets people want to buy.

Let me know what you think about this series and whether you feel something important was left out. Reach out on andre@andremuscat.com.

Let us know what you think!. We believe in productive discourse and welcome opportunities to refine our understanding through discussion. Comment in the comments area below or reach out on hi@andremuscat.com


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