Digital is about your customers, not your engineering capability.

By Steve Bennett

So yesterday I had a coffee with a CIO of a well-known brand and a long-term friend of Daemon. One of the subjects we discussed was “Digital" and in particular the chasm between customer expectations and what corporates often believe digital to be.

As I walked back to our office, I gave this some more thought.

Digital is not about your internal development capability, in fact, you don’t need one to be considered “Digital”. Digital is really about how you interact with your customers, if I think about this in terms of maturity;

Digital Level 0 - Laggard - Customers do not interact with you in a digital way. You may think they do, but they don't.

Digital Level 1 - Pretender - Meeting the base expectations of customers - but nothing more.

Digital Level 2 - Modern - Customers engage and interact with you in a very digital way, you are seen as current, possibly progressive.

Digital Level 3 - Leader - You lead the digital way in your sector - congrats you are a unicorn.

So where do you want to be?

Of course, CDO’s will say Level 3.

Where do you need to be?

We see a number of big brands striving to be digital leaders - but this is such a huge step and the investment in internal capability and cultural change needed to get there is often gargantuan (and yes we can really help you with this...). Just having a solid base digital capability would be a massive step for most organisations and for many industries getting to Level 3 can detract focus from staying relevant to customers and running a great business.

Will your business survive in the time it takes to get to Level 3?

So you have decided where you want and need to be, what next?

Surely I need to build an internal digital development capability. In short, no. Is there a product out there that can get you to your desired Level with little or no development?

In some cases, the answer is yes. For this particular CIO, this was the case. 

So I can take a massive step forward in my digital interaction without writing a line of code?

And I can deploy this in weeks, not months?

And the TCO alone can be 10% of build-your-own?

There are some really great SaaS solutions in the marketplace now, with really strong sector specialism, solving real problems in a digital way. This is their core business and some of these have hundreds of developers continually delivering enhancements - can you really compete?

So - I am not saying don’t build a development capability… What I am saying is sometimes there are solved problems and there are genuine alternatives developing internally. Personally, I am a big fan of extensible platforms that give you the best of both worlds - but that’s a subject for another day.

Steve Bennett
Co-Founder Daemon Solutions