From Digital Laggard to Leader:
The Role of Digital Enablement

By Max Ikaheimo

4th September, 2023

Did you know that 70% of digital transformations fail, mostly due to lack of user adoption and behavioral challenges? Shocking, right? 

But here's a fact that might surprise you even more: Companies that successfully implement digital enablement strategies are twice as likely to exceed their performance goals. 

In a world where digital is no longer an option but a necessity, digital enablement is the unsung hero that can make or break your business. Intrigued? 

Read on to discover how digital enablement can transform your organization from a digital laggard to a digital leader.

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What is digital enablement?

Digital enablement is the strategic use of digital technology to enhance business processes, improve customer experience, and drive business goals. 

It focuses on equipping employees with the right tools and digital assets to perform their tasks more efficiently.

Imagine a sales team that traditionally relied on manual processes for customer engagement, much like the Dunder Mifflin paper company before they embraced technology. 

With a digital enablement strategy, sales reps —think of them as the modern-day Jim Halperts and Dwight Schrutes— are now equipped with the tools to identify potential leads, automate routine tasks like sending Schrute Bucks for customer loyalty, and even predict customer behavior based on past interactions.

Digital enablement vs digital transformation

While "digital enablement" and "digital transformation" are often used interchangeably, they represent distinct approaches to adopting technology in a business context. Let’s take a look:

CriteriaDigital enablementDigital transformation
DefinitionEnabling businesses to leverage digital tools and technologies for specific functions or processes.A holistic change involving a complete overhaul of business processes, culture, and customer experiences through digital technologies.
ObjectivesImprove efficiency - Enhance specific functionalities - Streamline processesBusiness model innovation - Cultural change - Improve customer experience
ScopeLimited to specific areas or departments within an organization.Organization-wide, affecting almost all aspects of the business.
TimeframeShort-term to medium-term projects.Long-term, often ongoing commitment.
Key ActivitiesTool integration- Process automation - Data analyticsBusiness restructuring- Change management- Digital-first strategy
Impact on EmployeesMinimal disruption, focused on tool adoption.Significant change management, often requiring re-skilling.
Technological RequirementsSpecific technologies tailored for particular needs.Broad range of technologies integrated into all aspects of the business.
Risk LevelGenerally lower due to limited scope.Higher due to the scale and complexity.
CriteriaDefinition
Digital enablementEnabling businesses to leverage digital tools and technologies for specific functions or processes.
Digital transformationA holistic change involving a complete overhaul of business processes, culture, and customer experiences through digital technologies.
CriteriaObjectives
Digital enablementImprove efficiency - Enhance specific functionalities - Streamline processes
Digital transformationBusiness model innovation - Cultural change - Improve customer experience
CriteriaScope
Digital enablementLimited to specific areas or departments within an organization.
Digital transformationOrganization-wide, affecting almost all aspects of the business.
CriteriaTimeframe
Digital enablementShort-term to medium-term projects.
Digital transformationLong-term, often ongoing commitment.
CriteriaKey Activities
Digital enablementTool integration- Process automation - Data analytics
Digital transformationBusiness restructuring- Change management- Digital-first strategy
CriteriaImpact on Employees
Digital enablementMinimal disruption, focused on tool adoption.
Digital transformationSignificant change management, often requiring re-skilling.
CriteriaTechnological Requirements
Digital enablementSpecific technologies tailored for particular needs.
Digital transformationBroad range of technologies integrated into all aspects of the business.
CriteriaRisk Level
Digital enablementGenerally lower due to limited scope.
Digital transformationHigher due to the scale and complexity.

Read more: What is digital transformation?

The lifecycle of digital enablement

Much like the journey of any strategic initiative, digital enablement is not a one-time event but a continuous process. It has a well-defined lifecycle that businesses can follow to ensure successful implementation, ongoing optimization, and adaptability in a fast-changing digital landscape.

The lifecycle of digital enablement can be broken down into four critical stages: Assessment, Planning, Implementation, and Optimization. Each stage serves a unique purpose and is crucial for the overall success of your digital enablement strategy.

Assessment

In this initial stage, businesses evaluate their digital capabilities, technology infrastructure, and readiness for digital enablement. This involves auditing existing tools, processes, and digital assets to identify gaps and opportunities. Think of this as the "health check" for your organization's digital fitness.

Planning

Once the assessment is complete, developing a comprehensive digital enablement plan is next. This involves setting clear objectives, KPIs, and selecting the appropriate digital technology solutions that align with your business goals. In this stage, you're creating the blueprint for your digital house.

Implementation

This is the action phase where plans turn into reality. New technologies are deployed, employees are trained, and digital processes are integrated into the daily workflow. It's the stage where you build the digital house based on the blueprint created during the planning stage.

Optimization

The final stage is not a "final" stage but an ongoing process. Optimization involves continuously monitoring performance metrics, gathering feedback, and making iterative improvements. This ensures that your digital enablement strategy remains agile and can adapt to new challenges and opportunities. In a way, you're not just building a digital house but ensuring it remains a dream home by continuously updating and renovating it.

Here’s an example: A retail company wanted to improve its online sales. The lifecycle began with assessing the current digital capability and planning to select the right technology stack and tools. The next step is implementation, where we integrate the new technology. Finally, the brand moves to the optimization stage, using analytics to measure the impact on sales and customer journey.

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  • Proven track record: We've helped countless businesses transform their digital landscapes and can do the same for you.

  • Strategic Alignment: Our services are not just about technology but about aligning your digital initiatives with your overarching business objectives.

  • Innovation: We stay ahead of the curve, offering you the latest in digital solutions to keep your business future-ready.

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The benefits of digital enablement

Modularity

One of digital enablement's most compelling benefits is its composable approach to technology and business processes. Unlike monolithic systems that require a complete overhaul to implement new features, a modular architecture allows businesses to add or modify components piecemeal. This means you can integrate new tools or services without disrupting your entire operation, making adapting to market changes and emerging technologies easier.

Strategic alignment

Digital enablement is not just about adopting the latest tools or gadgets; it's about aligning these technologies with your overarching business strategies and objectives. Whether you aim to improve customer satisfaction, increase operational efficiency, or expand into new markets, a well-planned digital enablement strategy ensures that every technological investment you make serves a specific, strategic purpose.

Future-proof technology

The digital landscape is ever-changing, with new technologies emerging rapidly. Digital enablement helps businesses stay ahead of the curve by focusing on adaptable, scalable solutions. Whether serverless architecture, headless CMS, composable commerce, or the next big thing, a digital enablement strategy prepares you for the future, ensuring that your technology stack can easily accommodate new advancements.

Reduced vendor lock-in

In the past, businesses often found themselves locked into long-term contracts with single vendors for specific services or products. Digital enablement mitigates this risk by emphasizing flexibility and interoperability. By adopting open standards and modular solutions, businesses can easily switch vendors or integrate multiple services, allowing them to choose the best solutions for their needs.

Why do companies need digital enablement?

  • You gain a competitive advantage: Companies that fail to adapt are disadvantaged. Digital enablement provides the tools and strategies needed to stay ahead of the competition, 

  • You increase productivity: Working with a digital enablement agency leads to increased productivity and job satisfaction, whether you are a sales rep using advanced CRM software, a content editor using a friendly CMS, or a company that wants to increase its headcount with experienced developers.

  • Your operations become scalable: Your technology needs will evolve as your business grows. Digital enablement allows scalable solutions that can grow with your company, from expanding server capacity to adding new features to your e-commerce site.

Our work in digital enablement

Reaktor

We teamed up with Reaktor to help their revised brand identity come to life via their renewed website. We have been closely supporting Reaktor's marketing team to achieve their vision of how the new website should look and feel. Extensive cooperation has been the key to the success of our ongoing partnership.

Read more: Team extension for a global technology consulting firm

Teleport

Our dedicated development team worked with Teleport's marketing team to develop their enterprise website with Next.js. Our consultants integrated seamlessly with Teleport's team, enabling efficient collaboration between Ikius and Teleport.

Read more: Web development and team extension for an IT infrastructure platform

Closing thoughts

As we draw to a close, let's ponder two significant statistics that paint a vivid picture of the digital landscape: 70% of digital transformations are doomed to fail, companies that embrace digital enablement are not only twice as likely to exceed their performance goals but can also experience a 20-30% uptick in customer satisfaction, according to a McKinsey report.

Digital enablement is far more than a tech buzzword; it's a pivotal business strategy with tangible and proven benefits. With the right strategy and the right partner, like Ikius, you can turn these statistics into a compelling success story for your organization.

So, the question remains: Are you ready to join the ranks of businesses that survive and thrive in this digital era? The ball is in your court.

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