For organizations looking to take advantage of the wave of digital disruption that’s sweeping industries on a global scale, getting into the heads of their customers is probably the best place to start.

With tech trends like social, mobile, cloud and Big Data converging, organizations who want to remain competitive are in a race to adapt to the new realities of digital disruption. A March, 2015 Forrester Research Inc. report, “Digital Predator or Digital Prey?” has shed new light on what these trends can mean for business vitality, serving as a wake-up call for organizations.

According to the in-depth report, by 2020, every business will become either a digital predator, able to achieve digital mastery and create new value sources for customers or digital prey, industry “dinosaurs” who’ve adapted too late or not all – eventually becoming extinct. And though many industries have gotten ahead of the trend, others are woefully behind, remaining static in an Internet of Everything-connected world that simply flows around them.

Interestingly, research conducted through the Global Center for Digital Business Transformation, an IMD and Cisco initiative, revealed that 45 percent of companies don’t see digital disruption as a subject worthy of board-level attention. And another third of respondents have adopted a “wait-and-see” approach to decide whether or not they will re-examine their end-to-end customer approach in regards to digital.

Forrester’s Nigel Fenwick, co-author of the Digital Predator or Prey report, joined me as a guest of our Future of IT Podcast series to discuss this and more.

During our talk, Nigel and I both agreed that some industries are facing disruption and transformation sooner than others. Retail, financial services, and healthcare all come to mind.

We also agreed that being a digital predator or digital prey largely depends on CIOs and executives being able to tap into their core purpose – adding value to their customers’ digital experiences.

We shared examples of exemplary companies making the transition to digital by harnessing technologies to deliver innovative customer experiences.

  • F&F, Tesco, a retailer based in the U.K., is optimizing the shopping experience for tens of millions of customers every week. Today, the retailer can easily provide customers with information on the latest trends, personalized advice, and even deals based on store location. This information can be accessed via the shopper’s personal device or through sales associates who, with their tablets, now have another way of serving customers. These capabilities are making shopping more enjoyable and enhancing sales.

The combined online and in-store experiences helped them exceed their online targets over the holidays with over 50% sales growth.

  • Nationwide, a leader in financial services,has 400 mortgage specialists for 700 branches. Some customers had to wait days for an appointment. Others had to drive to a distant branch. Nationwide wanted to increase customer satisfaction and boost sales by making it more convenient to apply for a mortgage.

You can now walk into any of more than 60 branches to meet with a mortgage specialist over the network. You and the specialist see and hear each other as if you were in the same room, thanks to Cisco TelePresence. The specialist  can share     charts  and comparisons on the display, and a connected printer produces forms for you to review and sign.

Thanks to digitizing their branches and mortgage experience, the cost of transactions has dropped by 66% while increasing new mortgage business.

  • Houston Methodista leading healthcare center with more than 8.5 million square feet and 1,600 beds, sought a way to deliver high-definition video and stills at bedside. It also needed to efficiently manage its growing wireless traffic and support a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiative.

Connected voice and video-equipped robots allow physicians to make daily rounds virtually, connecting with patients while they are in remote locations. The technology allows for improved analytics and improved patient safety.

60 to 70 Percent of the institution’s clinical staff now use their own wireless device at work.

You can see that digitizing a customer’s experience has moved beyond simply redesigning a website or developing a new digital app. While these can capture the eyes and encourage short-term excitement, digitizing the end-to-end customer experience and the products and services they offer as part of a customer’s value realization are key.

Becoming customer obsessed is critical. You must go beyond looking for what a customer desires and take a top-down approach to create a vision for your company of how you add value to customer interactions with your products and services.

Then you must create an environment where your CIO and CMO are on the same page, working in tandem to understand what being customer-obsessed means for transforming their departments to create new digitally-remarkable experiences.

Digital disruption is quickly determining predators and prey. Heed the signs, adapt, and win.

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Michael Riegel

Vice President

Industries, Platforms, and Services Marketing