Digital business is booming around the world. According to Accenture, 22% of the world’s output is now tied to the digital economy, with the U.S. leading the way at 33%.

With the digitization of business playing out on a global scale, there are tremendous opportunities for companies to improve the efficiency of their businesses, expand into new markets, and create entirely new business models.

The early leaders in the global digital marketplace -- Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook, also known as “the four horsemen of the digital apocalypse” -- have made significant inroads in consumer markets with their respective digital strategies. But we’re still early days in the digital marketplace, and there are incredible opportunities ahead for other enterprise companies to put their stakes in the ground of the still unfolding digital frontier.

There are numerous ways that the CIO can enable the organization to assert itself in the digital ecosystem. A good starting point is by assessing the cultural temperament of the company, including how it’s currently positioned to operate as a digital enterprise and identifying the barriers to success that must be overcome. This includes evaluating the company’s risk tolerance and its willingness to break from complacency and embrace new opportunities for digital disruption.

CIOs also need to be willing to challenge the status quo. Business leaders need to rethink the company’s business models through digital. This requires questioning long-held practices and procedures that have been embedded in the corporate culture for years.

The CIO can also help the organization determine where there are opportunities for expansion. This can include the use of third-party data and analytics tools that can bring together detailed information about different customer segments in specific geographies. Such data can help business leaders to understand regional customer requirements, including behavioral and attitudinal differences among target customers in different geographies.

Companies also need the right mix of talent and resources to execute effectively on digital strategies. While more than 90% of companies don’t have the digital skills they need, just 46% of organizations are investing in the development of digital skills, according to a study by Capgemini and MIT.

The ultimate goal shouldn’t be about catching up to the four horsemen of the digital apocalypse but rather to create a digital culture and strategy that’s right for your organization to succeed.

As Asheem Chandna, Partner at Greylock Partners points out in an HMG Strategy Transformational CIO blog post, digital is driving a huge secular change in how companies engage with their customers. “If you don’t adapt to this new way of doing business, someone else will come along and capture your customers,” says Chandna.

Key Takeaways

  • Digitization is creating incredible opportunities for companies to improve the efficiency of their businesses, expand into new markets, and create entirely new business models.
  • To help the company plant its stake, the CIO can assess the cultural makeup of the company, including how it’s currently positioned to operate as a digital enterprise and identify the barriers to success that need to be overcome.
  • CIOs also need to be willing to challenge the status quo. This includes questioning long-held practices and procedures that have been ingrained in the corporate culture for years.