The five levels of growth in the digital age

Bart-Jan Verhoef
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We’ve assisted many financials in improving their digital workflow. From departments who were just taking their first steps onto the web, to organizations who only needed fine-tuning of an already well-oiled process.

However, for none of them the level of advancement into the digital age was the result of a deliberate consideration. Some simply found ‘online’ important for conversion’s sake, while others had streamlined internal processes digitally to improve efficiency.

Why bother?

It’s all just a matter of what seems urgent to whom at a given time. Nonetheless, the conviction that we all should advance in the digital age has been well-established by now.

All the more reason take a moment and reflect on how you are doing. To assess where you stand relative to our own standards. Or to see how competitive you are in the market. Are you at the forefront of digitization in the market? Or are you lagging behind?

Where are you?

We've distinguished the following five levels of growth that we have came across. Have a look and try to finish the next sentence.

You are:

  1. Doing a bit of digital. Sort of.
    You’ve probably got a website. But it isn’t getting a lot of attention from you or your customers. It’s simply not part of the process. What the customer want? You have no idea. This isn’ it, that much is clear.
    Perhaps your internal process is a blend of excel and outlook with a touch of post-it memo’s. It works. Except when it doesn’t.

  2. Mostly digital. Ish.
    Sure, some parts of your website are outdated. But you are trying. No one specific is responsible, so you make do with what you have. Because it is kind of important.
    By now you’re likely to have phased out post-its as a means to summarize product specifications. It’s pretty much all ‘digital’ now, but that’s not to say there is a proces now, or that it’s clear what the status of something is.

  3. At the (digital) tilting point
    If there is a marketing and communications department in your organization, you know who they are. it’s not like you have coffee on a weekly basis, but they do their job maintaining your website and maybe social media broadcasting as well.
    You’ve concluded excel is not a tool you want as a part of your product administration any longer. It may works most the time but something is bound to go wrong or get overlooked when someone is out of office for a few days.
    There’s most likely a few projects going on right now to improve your operational process, connect your website to your internal system(s) or something similar. You are in motion.

  4. A well-oiled machine
    Your internal operations is all digital and well-organized. In addition, your external digital channels are well maintained and fully connected to your internal systems. Processes are clear, and chances are you even have some kind of audit-trail in place.
    At this point you’re not just moving: You are going somewhere.

  5. The responsive organization
    ‘Digital’ is such a given that it’s no longer a theme for you. All of that is in place and taken care of. You are connected and in constant motion: adapting to evolving customers needs and anticipating market demands.

Your process is designed and optimized for agility. You embrace change, because you know that that’s where opportunities are.

Where do you want to go?

Already have an idea of where you are approximately? Of course this is a generalized picture of reality and you might recognize a bit of this but also some of that. The key is to recognize what the next steps for you are, and find out what it takes to get those done.

What’s good to know is that most organizations in the financial sector are not that far advanced if placed in this model. Level 5 is exceptional in any industry, and we’ve yet to meet the first financial who can honestly say they’re there. Even level 4 is still quite rare.

We’ve seen and worked with some organizations who are very well under way though, and it is truly amazing to witness such transformation nearby. Not in giant leaps, but step by step. Just by getting in motion. Because that’s the essence of where you should be going. Everything else will eventually follow.

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