Digital transformation is the use of new technology to radically improve the performance or reach of enterprises. It continues to be a pressing topic in Australia and beyond, as organisations take stock of their digital landscape and (attempt to) address the shifting expectations of today’s “digital” customer.

The impact of digital transformation focuses on enhancing the customer experience, optimising operations and innovating new business models. However, a principal question for Australian businesses is: how to scale, without mass? Businesses can use digital to efficiently improve customer reach and service at scale in a number of ways. Those that are successful disrupt large enterprises through superior management of information, rather than assets, such as Uber or Airbnb.

Engage with billions of potential customers

Social media enables local businesses to reach and engage with both local and global consumers and rapidly influence brand perception at scale. Social media engagement, when done well, can extend far beyond the captive social fan base.

It’s necessary for businesses to connect transversely, not linearly. The influence of social is bolstered through the creation and sharing of highly engaging, relevant and authentic content. Content creation can be anything from Instagramming a photo of the newest product to penning a brief blog relevant to a target customer, or promoting content created by and for other customers. Enterprises who make content central to their business model can capture and connect with audiences far and wide to ultimately drive traffic and sales growth.

Assets don’t matter

A buzzword of 2016 – the digital ecosystem – encompasses the concept of disaggregation. This means challenging the current assumptions underpinning traditional, linear value chains and operating models to dynamically reimagine the roles of key stakeholders. Customers can play a significant part in shaping and running businesses in the role of employee, driving marketing through content creation, promotion and sharing on behalf of the organisation. Similarly, they can also help to shape how businesses provide personalised and timely customer service.

Crowdsourced customer service has its benefits, including reduced response time, rich feedback and self-regulated quality. However, additional indirect benefits may not be entirely clear from the outset. Successful companies leverage the learnings about customers’ likes, dislikes, and issues to continually improve products and services.

Of course, using digital to deliver scale is not without its challenges. While any organisation can easily set up a social media presence and begin communicating with customers, they must be ready to respond quickly and in public to customer complaints. While organisations can engage a growing, global customer base, more sales through more channels do not come without strains on the supply chain.

Organisations who are successful in their digital transformations maintain focus on the end-to-end customer experience and place equal emphasis on how they govern and prioritise investments. This is done in alignment with customer needs, how they engage their employees, and importantly, how they build the right culture to continually adapt and innovate in an uncertain future.

We are well and truly in an age where the exponential improvements in computing power, the near-zero marginal cost of digital technologies and the combinatorial nature of innovation converge, are increasing the pace of innovation in digital. Winning organisations will maintain a relentless focus on building an organisation that can leverage these digital innovations to continually reinvent itself.