The Digital You – Embrace the Power of Digitalization
Today the impact of technology is higher than ever. Most professional coaches are digital immigrants; they were not born in the internet era as many other business leaders or customers, so we need to educate ourselves about what digital transformation really means.
I am sure you have wondered the following:
- What kind of opportunities do you have to develop your coaching practice due to the latest technology developments?
- What new coaching opportunities we can facilitate with current or future technology changes?
- What new coaching occasions we may have just because leaders have to handle complex digital transformation processes or disruption? Or worse, have to face the tough impact of asymmetric competition?
As professionals involved in the coaching industry, we know better than anyone that we progress when we get out of our comfort zone. I am not a digital guru; I am a digital immigrant! I am involved in coaching processes with corporate or entrepreneurial customers, and despite my previous corporate senior leadership experience within global technology companies, I am not a technical person. However, I was curious enough to go deeper into the subject. During my classes at Columbia Business School and working with professionals from around the world on different digital transformation case studies, I came up with a few conclusions that may support your coaching business, too. Most coaches are the leaders of their own businesses, and none of them would prefer to lose important business opportunities just because of the belief, “I am not a technical person.”
So, What Does Digital Transformation Really Means?
Digital transformation is fundamentally not so much about technology and which one you choose to use in your practice, but it is really about new ways of thinking—as a leader, as an organization, as a professional coach.
There are five main domains impacted by digital transformation: Customers, Competition, Innovation, Big Data and Value Proposition.
Business in the 20th century was based on a model that viewed customers as passive individuals. Through mass media (radio & TV), businesses could reach extremely large audiences of customers but could not market to each of them as individuals. Today, business needs a new paradigm: the customer network. In customer networks, customers are no longer seen as isolated individuals but as dynamic participants in a network. They are responding, connecting and sharing about themselves with businesses they care about. To succeed, businesses need to adjust strategies that match the behavior of customer networks because these days, for many businesses, the network is the customer! For many business customers, online has become more valuable than offline.
So, do you manage a community of customers around your coaching practice? How can you serve this community better? How can you take more advantage of the fact that customers are interacting now and sharing transparent information within customer networks? How can you expand your market using the latest technologies used by your customer network? What coaching opportunities may you have within organizations ready to disrupt the existing business?
We used to look at competition between companies offering similar services or products. Today, businesses not only face direct competition, but there is also coopetition (partnering with your competitor to offer a higher value to a customer) or asymmetric competition. If you think of a global chain of hotels, who do you think is its major asymmetric competition right now? We all know the answer…
How is your competition right now? Do you partner with your current competitors to serve better, new customer projects? Analyzing your current business, is there any asymmetric competitor right now or in the new future able to seriously shrink your customer base/portfolio?
Data becomes a source of value creation, and this require us to have a more holistic view of our business and a much more holistic data view of our customers. What data do you currently legally collect about your customers? Can this data be valuable for other businesses or partners if they can be exchanged? Can you analyze patterns and behaviors based on information collected? Could you generate more revenue using potential studies, building loyalty programs based on data that you have right now?
Innovation is another domain impacted by digital transformation. We don’t have to invest considerable budgets to transform our business; we could pilot first, fail earlier and adjust as soon as possible. If you look at your business right now, what processes can you automate? How can you use available technology to improve your customer experience online and offline?
Speaking about value, for many years the purpose of a business was to make a profit. These days, the purpose of a business is to generate more value for its customers. In this context, which is your value proposition and how is this adjusted to a context where technology creates opportunities?
If we can develop new ways of thinking—about customers, about competition, about understanding data and its value to our business, new ways of managing innovation and new ways of understanding our value to the market place—we will be able to uncover opportunities, which did not exist yesterday, due to technology advancement.
We cannot talk about digital transformation without talking about digital leadership. Being a successful digital leader means being innovative, creative, collaborative, experimental, curious and able to network. There are studies where CEOs are presented as being reluctant to digital transformation, which is considered as being Marketing or IT department territory. A considerable percentage of C-level executives do not have a digital presence. I strongly believe that professional coaches do have a real opportunity here. This is why I advocate for having a current understanding about digital transformation, digital leaders, and new competences required—digital literacy being one of them.
So, are you ready for digital transformation?
Here are a few questions that may help you progress on digital thinking:
- How much focus do you have on your customers’ changing digital habits and path to purchase?
- Do you use marketing to attract, engage, inspire and collaborate with customers?
- Are your customers the biggest influence on your brand and reputation? Are you open to cooperate with your rivals?
In this digital era, having a digital presence as a professional coach— no matter your current business size—is a must. Interacting with your customers on different platforms, being visible and recognized by your industry, building communities, and expressing yourself by using new communication channels will help you to shine and will support your personal branding mission.
Get your customers out of their comfort zone and fight with the belief: ”I am not a technical person.” Many opportunities will be revealed! Let them embrace digital transformation, allow them to gain that digital thinking which will help them to disrupt and transform!
Amalia Sterescu will be exploring this topic more in-depth at ICF Converge 2019, which is taking place October 23-26 in Prague, Czech Republic. Join her session “The Digital You-Embrace the Power of Digitization!” in the Build content group on Friday, October 25 at 3:00 p.m. (local time). By attending this session, you can earn 0.5 RD in Continuing Coach Education units.