We all know that we live in times of massive change. And we all know that digital is at the core of this change. But what is digital really?
At it’s deepest core, digital is simply code. It is made from ones and zeros. Endless lines of ones and zeros.
Now, please open your mind, and ask yourself: What else is code?
I am sure you have it on you. Or more precisely: in you. It works at your deepest core. Organises your every action. Life is code! Your DNA is code! It is made from not two but four digits: G,A,T,C. Endless lines of Gs, As, Ts and Cs.
Looking at code, both digital and biological, we see that code itself has “inherent wants”. We can cluster those inherent wants into what I call the four laws of code. Those four laws are true for all code and abiding by those four laws will help you create more successful digital strategies. It will help you think about new ways to improve your business and give more kick to all your offline and online marketing actions. So here we go:
The Four Laws Of Digital Success
1. The Law Of Multiplication
Life wants to multiply. So does everything digital. Code wants to start life or business opportunities not only where is already is, but somewhere else or with someone else. Code wants to grow, multiply and conquer new areas; areas where life or commerce has not been before.
“People who bought this, also bought that”, “your friend X just added Y to his playlist” are easy examples.
Code wants to spread, but it needs some help. Bees if you are a flower, platforms if you are a business.
The best pollination of course is cross-pollination. So, if you are not a flower but a business, start to add the word CROSS to everything you do. Platforms should become CROSS platforms. Experiences turn to CROSS-experiences. Touchpoints evolve to CROSS-touchpoints.
Ask yourself: Do I make it easy for my digital information to spread? Where should it spread to? Which areas could I spawn?
2. The Law Of Improvement
“In three words, I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on,” said Robert Frost. And this, of course, is true for code as well.
Code goes on. And it improves with every step along the way. Code gets faster, stronger and smarter over time, both in the biological and in the digital world.
This law of improvement is governed by the laws of evolution. Every innovation will succeed only if it is better than the existing solution.
What kinds of improvement do I see? Very briefly, let’s boil it down to three.
This is all about keeping up to speed, maintaining your position, avoiding death. This includes upgrading your existing solution to the new standards, like optimizing your website for mobile devices, or – if you are a moth during the Industrial Revolution in Britain - adapting your body colour to the new, darker environment.
Adaptation makes sure that you do not lose life, habitat, profit or market share. If you want to survive, you need to adapt to your environment. End of story.
What new environments are you and your business facing today? Well, wearables are getting bigger. The internet of everything is here. Real-time data and the personalisation of products, services and marketing are definitely part of the new world you have to adapt to.
Innovation is about improving the existing way of doing things by new means. In this category are growing lungs to breath better on land, or creating new customer experiences especially designed for wearable devices.
Innovation actively helps conquer and dominate new fields of life, business, and marketing. It takes you places you have not been before. You enter the unknown. This means you need some courage to go there. No explorer went into the jungle because it was comfortable and cosy. They went to fight, win, conquer and bring home the new gold they found.
The key to successful innovation is to think big and consider the whole new ecosystem that you are about to create. The famous innovation of sliced bread created brand new markets, like the need for sliced meats and even for toasters. Tesla is building not only cars, but an entire eco-system of electric transport, including charging stations and factories for batteries. Amazon thinks about delivery by drones.
So look at the bigger picture. Think in ecosystems - not in silo innovations.
Disruptive innovations sets out to destroy the existing. Air BnB kills hotels. Uber kills taxis.
The future is shaped by disruptive innovation. And they can come from anywhere. Millions of start-ups - like millions of sperm cells - strive to hit the market. And just like with the single sperm cell, it is really hard to predict which single new start-up will succeed. But one will! That is for sure.
Here’s some counterintuitive advice: if you are trying to disrupt, make your new innovation sound “less disruptive”.
Apple’s Newton failed because it promised a radical new way of doing things. Apple’s iPhone succeeded, because it sold itself as a “phone”. It is far from being a phone. But calling it one sounds less disruptive.
3. The Law Of Dominance
Life shapes not only itself, but nature in general. Bacteria changed our atmosphere. Coral changes the ocean. Trees change the air. Ants change the earth. And digital code changes our business. We move from dumb to smart.
Analog is deaf and dumb. An analog subway ticket printed on paper influences nothing. Put a digital ticket on a smart phone and you change everything.
The digital ticket knows who rode the subway, at what time and where to. It can connect to the subway’s system and find out whether the next train is empty or full. With flexible pricing it can now make the ride in the full train more expensive and the ride in the empty one cheaper. Now you have smart transport. Connect to the final destinations and you’ll see that swimming pool A is more crowded than swimming pool B. Connect that to flexible pricing and make the trip to swimming pool B cheaper and you look at a smart city.
Digital dominates the entire structure.
If you digitise all you processes, connect all departments and hear and speak to everyone else, you can dominate as well.
4. The Law Of Now
Life does not wait to act. Neither should you.
The early bird gets the worm, the second mouse gets the cheese, but the third animal has to live on the left overs.
So whatever you do, do it now!
Do not be afraid of failure and get ready to do what no one else (in your business or your company) has done before.