Digital Differentiation – noun; the art of applying digital transformation to compete and win in your market. Digital transformation. It’s such a wonderful, commonly used phrase which can actually mean anything to anyone and for which everyone has a different interpretation. The conversation around digital transformation and the debate about how best to achieve it has dominated industry press and boardroom discussions for a fair while now and every organisation, including ourselves, is talking about how it can impact organisational success. However, 2018 is already bringing something of a step change. There’s a new angle coming into that conversation. Businesses are now increasingly asking how they can practically turn digital transformation into a reality and what that will actually deliver to the business. The time for hypothesising is over and businesses are looking for practical answers to how they can get started and see results fast. We believe it’s all about differentiation. Sure, introducing greater digital capability can transform the organisation but how can you turn that to your advantage so that you are out-performing and out-pacing the competition? How can you turn that transformation into new products and services? How can you serve your employees better? How can you deliver better services to customers and capitalise on untapped market demand? And how can you do that faster than the competition? That is what digital transformation is all truly about. It’s about using digital capability to create a tangible source of differentiation. Sounds good, right? Well lets’ get back to the practical reality of making it happen. Competitive edge will increasingly be found in the software an organisation uses. Gone are the days of picking a generic solution off the shelf, making some customisations and expecting it to be a lever for market gain. In today’s climate, companies which harness technology and put software at the core of their transformation vision will find the most success. This drives customer focus and agile innovation right to the top of the departmental and board-level agenda. Cloud is naturally a valuable component of that shift towards becoming a software business. Microsoft Azure, as a robust cloud backbone, gives the organisation an ability to flex the IT infrastructure in and out incredibly fast to meet changing demands. It provides a perfect build/test/deploy platform to spin up new proof of concept solutions quickly and cost-effectively enabling the business to try new models with the minimum of risk and disruption to daily operations. And with the massive pace of innovation with the Microsoft Azure platform itself, all the previous barriers to adoption are being rapidly broken down. During 2017, one of the biggest step changes we saw was the uptake of Microsoft Azure in industries which had previously lagged in cloud adoption. Industries like Financial Services, Legal and Security Services are now some of the biggest proponents of the cloud and are using it as a platform for digital differentiation. We are currently working on pioneering and market-shifting projects with businesses in these sectors where we would historically have never got traction. At the heart of all these projects is a single clear-minded strategy to use digital capability to drive new forms of differentiation and market leadership. This momentum will continue to increase and 2018 looks set to be the year where digital transformation changes from a concept into a practical reality; and an exciting one at that. If this is something that you are currently thinking about for your organisation or which has ignited a spark of interest, get in touch. Look out for my next blog on this topic where I’ll be sharing my view on the critical questions businesses need to consider as they start their journey towards digital differentiation?