Business transformation, part 1: The first three steps

This article series uncovers new business opportunities born through better utilization of digital services, data and customer understanding.

In Lewis Carrol’s book “Alice in Wonderland” the striped Cheshire cat tells Alice, who is trying to find her way, that all roads will take you to your destination if you don’t know where you are going. This accurately describes the situation of many companies and organizations today. We know that we should renew our business, but what is the right model and direction? Should we first focus on developing our customers, measure data driven results, or should we first think about transforming sales or marketing. Or how about digitizing the service process?

Something to consider 1: Does your business already have a challenger transforming the sector or is your company this challenger?

Instead of thinking about what should be done, first you should think about what kind of actor your company wants to be in five and ten years’ time. After that, developing digital services, data and customer understanding can be slotted into the plan at the right time. The question that each company should ask itself is, “Has a new challenger entered our business? Does this challenger make us question our practices and assumptions?” If the answer is yes, then the next question is, “What can we learn from this actor and what is our competitive advantage in relation to this actor?” On the other hand, if the answer is still no, you should think about what are the sector’s typical assumptions and practices that prevent transformation and growth. These assumptions and practices that once were thought to prevent competition from entering the sector will be systematically challenged, sooner or later. All companies will naturally not be interested in developing to the level where they themselves would become this new challenger. However, there is reason to prepare for this challenge and start the process to renew your business in one way or another.

 “The first and most important decision is to actually decide to start the journey, followed by the decision regarding the objectives and speed for the transformation.” 

Something to consider 2: What part of the business is most in need of renewal?

The first and most important decision is to actually decide to start the journey, followed by the decision regarding the objectives and speed for the transformation. These depend largely on the ambition level of the organization. One must think if the current business is to be renewed or if a completely new business should be developed. At first, it is sufficient for many companies to look at the way by which the company markets and sells its products or services. A more ambitious company will also seek to renew its business model service processes such as its customer service or ordering and delivery processes. Additionally, some companies will go as far as to redefine their raison d’etre and their entire business model.

"If a company is not aware of the current situation, it is impossible to renew the value proposition.”

Something to consider 3: Does the company know what provides the customer with value?

No matter what part of the business you decide to renew the customer’s value proposition must be defined. The value can be based on an overwhelming price/quality ratio, relative convenience, sentimental value or even social value. If the company does not know this information today it is impossible to change the business’s proposition and renew it. This goes without mentioning the fact that you may cannibalize your own business while attempting to produce a new type of value for your customers.

When setting off on your path to transform your business you must be sure that certain steps are taken. It is likely that many things may change during this journey. Sometimes you will find new partners that will accelerate your journey along your path. On the other hand, as the objectives become clearer the company may have to change direction. If you set off on this journey equipped with the right attitude and are well equipped, the changes that you will make along the way will merely be refreshing and will serve as useful lessons for the next steps you take.

Tarja Lähdemäki helps companies find new business opportunities through better digital services, data and customer understanding. For over 20 years, she has worked with data, customer understanding, marketing, sales and customer relationship management systems and digital services. New opportunities are available everywhere if the company is ready to open new doors. So, open the door and join us on the journey!

Tarja Lähdemäki
Business Opportunity Executive, Brand & Digital
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