I’m becoming a digical life form. Here’s the evidence:
Digical is a blend of the physical and the digital. I think of it as adding digital extensions to humans (or other animals). But Bain & Company actually coined the term (in a recent white paper) and they think of it as business, not biology.
In Bain’s usage, digical refers to the merger of a company’s physical and online operations. When e-commerce took off back in the 90s, some wild-eyed analysts predicted that it would spell the end of brick-and-mortar stores. As Bain (and many others) have pointed out, nothing could be farther from the truth.
As we all know (but sometimes forget) humans are social animals. We like to be around other people. We generally thrive in society and wither in isolation. (It’s why tall buildings make you crazy). For this very reason, Bain suggests that the future of retailing will be the digical world. Retailers will increasingly merge physical stores and online operations into “omnichannel” solutions.
Other industries – especially entertainment and technology – will go digical quickly. Even industries like construction, which might not seem like digical leaders, are getting digital tools to dig better holes and build smarter buildings. Smart tractors use GPS and a databank of seed information to help farmers plant smarter, conserve resources, and increase yields.
In reading Bain’s white paper, three things stood out for me:
I like the term digical; I hope it becomes the word of the year in 2014. Bain has a very clear definition and useful advice for businesses. Personally, I’d like to see the definition expanded to include biology as well as business. After all, we’re all going digical.
(Digical is a sales mark of Bain and Company).
The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) just published a new study that compares 16 industries in their ability to deliver digital satisfaction to American consumers. What’s the worst industry? The telco/cable industry is at the bottom of the heap. What’s the best industry? Surprise … it’s personal banking.
BCG surveyed 3,135 consumers in March 2013 and measured satisfaction with 17 different digital “interactions”. These were grouped into four broad categories:
The researchers asked consumers to rate each interaction in two ways: 1) how important is it?; 2) how satisfied are you with it? With these data, we can compare expectations and how well those expectations are met.
The researchers crunched all the data and compiled the 16 industries into four categories:
Leaders – consumers had high expectations of leaders and, by and large, their expectations were met. In general, the leaders scored well across all four interaction categories, from beginning to end. (Actually, the process never really ends). The four leading industries are (in order) personal banking, online merchants, media retail, and electronics retail. Personal banking leads by a wide margin, with a total satisfaction score of 15.2, compared to 11.8 for online merchants, the second ranking industry.
Aspirants – these industries do well on the research interactions but lag on the transaction and post-transaction categories. In other words, they get off to a good start but don’t follow through well. Consumers are not displeased with aspirant performance but think it could be improved. Industries in this category are: apparel retail, airlines, investments, and hotels.
Sleepers – consumers have low (digital) expectations of sleeper industries … and those expectations were fulfilled. Sleeper industries are: supermarkets, automobiles, and real estate.
Laggards – consumers have higher expectations of laggards (than of sleepers) but low satisfaction. Laggards fall behind in all interaction categories, from research to post-transaction. Laggards include: utilities, government services, health care providers, insurance, and (worst of the worst) telco and cable
Consumers want the digital experience to offer more than the physical experience. Digital might offer more options, more information, better prices, or more convenience. It might even be fun. Generally, consumers “expect the digital experience to be local (recognizing where they are), personal (tailored to their individual needs and preferences), social (shared with their friends) – and always on.”
The study also points to the growing importance of mobile access. Roughly half of Millennials (born 1980 – 2000) use mobile devices while shopping. For older consumers, the rate is approximately one-fifth. Mobile access enables two key trends:
Showrooming – check out the merchandise in a brick-and-mortar retail outlet, then compare prices and buy online.
Omnichannel – use the entire array of online, mobile, virtual, social, and real world channels to make a buying decision.
As the authors point out, the purchasing process is no longer linear; it’s now fluid and dynamic. To succeed, companies will need to enhance satisfaction through the entire range of interactions and do it through all channels. It’s a daunting challenge. The reward, however, is a slice of the $450 billion e-commerce market that BCG projects by 2016.