But what if I don’t want to become a digital business?

Worldwide Portfolio Marketing Manager, IBM z Systems Big Data and Analytics, IBM

I doubt that any taxi company, anywhere in the world, was concerned with being a digital business just five years ago. Why bother? The age-old model for running this sort of business had been successful for generations and was not in need of change. Those companies that did think digital perhaps went as far as creating a website to advertise their existence, but that’s about it. 

Then along came Uber, a technology upstart that figured out a way to blur the lines between the physical and digital worlds. Using the widespread availability of smart devices, ubiquity of location information and new methods of digital payments, Uber was able to become one of the world’s largest transportation companies virtually overnight without directly owning a single car or employing a single driver. is popular because it eliminates most if not all of the pain points of hailing a taxi. If you’ve ever stood in the rain in New York City trying to flag down a cab, worked out the appropriate tip in your head or fumbled to get the right payment, you have an idea of what I mean. Even if you ever wanted to report a poor driver without any reliable means of doing so, you also know what I mean. I’ve used taxis, and I’ve used Uber, and there is a world of difference in the experience. And I haven’t even brought up the topic of cost. 

Now, five years ago, any forward-thinking cab company could have vastly upped their level of customer service by turning to a digital business model and, perhaps, staved off the competition from companies such as Uber and Lyft. As far as I know, none did because they did not see the need and did not want to become a digital business. 

We’ve seen similar disruption in the hotel industry—Airbnb—and banking industry—PayPal, Apple Pay and more, just to name a few. Traditional business models are being turned on their heads—even decimated—by companies that understand the value of a human-centric approach toward design of business operations—an approach that Gartner calls “digital humanism.” 

Don’t think this will happen to you or your industry? Think again. Gartner predicts that in five short years 30 billion intelligent things and an additional 8 billion smart devices will cover the planet. That metric equates to six thinking, connected entities for every living person. Given this prediction, someone working out a digital business model that puts extreme competitive pressure on you is just a matter of time. Perhaps it can even drive you out of business completely. So why resist? Get ahead of the curve. 

The good news is you can transition to being a digital business incrementally, without throwing out whatever systems and technologies you currently have in place. The process is really more about changing mindset than technology. Whatever you have on the floor can very likely get you to wherever you want to be. 

If you’d like to learn more than I’ve put forward here, I highly recommend that you download the on demand webcast "Becoming an Enterprise Digital business - A perspective from featured Gartner analyst Donald Feinberg" today. Find out from the thought leaders in this space what digital business can mean to you and how you can get there. Register today, and stop resisting the inevitable.

We are organizing a CrowdChat on July 14, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. ET on the topic "Digital Business Journey" and we would be delighted to have you join us.