Companies have to put digital first

Published on 18/11/2019 in Inspire

Companies have to put digital first

The digital revolution is gathering pace. It poses an important question for companies. How are customer expectations changing in this digital narrative and what must companies do to fulfill them?

Everything is becoming digital. How does Proximus see the world changing?

Bart Van Den Meersche, Chief Enterprise Market Officer at Proximus: “The digital revolution started with the consumer. The figures speak volumes: 42% of Belgian consumers make online purchases using a smartphone, the tax authorities received over 2.3 million tax returns via Tax-on-Web this year, we listen to music and watch series on our smartphones, etc. We no longer go online, we live online. Consumers clearly choose to put digital first and take these same experiences and expectations with them to work. The business world is following suit.”

The digital revolution is moving fast. What does a business have to do to keep up?

“It may seem ironic, but the source of the new market demands – and of the resultant problem areas – is also the solution. Companies can see digital transformation as a threat, but also as an opportunity. Companies that opt to embrace digitalization do so in order to offer a better customer experience. Digitalization also provides a lever for operational excellence, for example by speeding up operating processes through automation, and gives staff more mobility and flexibility.”

“Above all, digital transformation leads to a total redesign of products and services. This gives rise to new ecosystems and partnerships, that enable companies to deal with the disruption quickly. That is important. As a company, you should not think that digitalization won’t affect you. If you want to survive in the future, then you need to arm yourself against possible disruption and, at the same time, use the opportunities offered by new technologies to the fullest.”

Opting for a digital transformation process ultimately gives you more chance of growing.

Bart Van Den Meersche, Chief Enterprise Market Officer at Proximus

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What challenges are Belgian companies struggling with today because of the digital revolution?

“Firstly, we noticed that companies are in search of insight and guidance. They want to know how new technologies may disrupt their operating models in the future. More importantly, they are in search of guidance on how they can apply these technologies efficiently, so that they support sustainable growth. They are often in search of trust. They want to find the path to the right partners.”

“And then, of course, the solutions they have chosen have to be implemented. The shift from business model and operating processes to a more digital workplace requires staff with different competence profiles. It is not at all easy to develop this expertise entirely in-house. Hence the need for partnerships.”

How does Proximus deal with this challenge in practice?

“For us, co-creation is very important. I’m thinking here of the partnership with construction group Besix, where Proximus is involved in construction projects as the IT partner for all aspects of connectivity and the use of tools for building management. Itsme® is also a good example: a digital tool for secure authentication, which came about thanks to the cooperation between four major banks and the three Belgian telecoms operators.”

Key to success

How can companies best deal with the new demands of the market and the problems that they experience because of those demands?

“We should not see the digital revolution just as a technological story. First and foremost, it’s about a far-reaching cultural change. At the same time, it should not be seen as a threat, but as an opportunity. This is precisely why we say to our customers: think possible.”

“We show them the opportunities of the digital world, and we support them in implementing these opportunities as well as possible. In practical terms, we say to our customers: determine your success factors for tomorrow in every dimension of digital transformation, for customers, staff, processes and the business model, and identify the obstacles that you are encountering here today, both digital and non-digital. That is the right formula for a successful digital transformation.”

Are Belgian companies doing that enough? How do we score compared with the rest of Europe?

“Belgium is in ninth place in the European digital ranking. That means that Belgian companies need to invest in digital solutions if we want to embrace the digital economy as a country and rise in the ranking to play a leading role in digital terms.”

Are Belgian companies digital enough? The latest Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) places Belgium at number 9. Discover why.

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