The Benefits of Building a Digital-First Business

In one 2020 study, McKinsey found that 96% of B2B businesses adopted digital technologies to reshape their existing go-to-market models. More recently, another McKinsey article stated that a digital-first business strategy can be a route to value creation.

And when supported by a “tribe-based operating model and agile development cycles”, it can lead to more productive customer engagement, and eventually, better economic results.

So should your organization adopt the digital-first approach?

What are its benefits?

And who are its key beneficiaries?

Short answer: Your organization, but also your customers and employees.

This article will explore these aspects in detail. So if you’re currently unsure about the value of the digital imperative, read on!

How Digital-First Benefits Your Business

Recent tectonic shifts (think “pandemic”) in the global business landscape have forced organizations and their CIOs to change the way they approach their operations.

To keep up with new customer demands and market challenges, they need to create new business models, and reimagine previous ideas about disruptive innovation, business processes and customer experiences.

For this, they’re turning to a digital-first approach to transform their operations, service delivery, and customer engagement. Many are embracing automation to enhance scalability and agility, ensure business continuity, strengthen their competitive position, and improve their growth prospects.

Digital technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IOT), Machine Learning and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) are helping to:

  • Streamline workflows
  • Cut costs, and boost revenues and profits
  • Create new customer-centric business models
  • Accelerate innovation to create high-quality products or services

A robust digital transformation strategy and roadmap can generate all these benefits, whether you’re a startup, a small/medium business, or a large enterprise like IBM, Amazon or Apple.

It can also boost productivity and efficiency by helping to create a powerful “digital workforce” that blends the automation capabilities of software and bots, with the empathy, judgment and decision-making capabilities of human workers. This results in amazing synergies that create “digital scale”, and open new opportunities for long-term growth and competitiveness.

What about digital laggards? Research by HBR has found that such companies don’t perform as well as those that proactively embrace digital transformation.

How Digital-First Benefits Your Customers

According to one McKinsey report,  digital transformation can increase customer satisfaction by 20%-30%.

This is especially true in the post-COVID environment when technologically-savvy users expect organizations to provide unique customer experiences, not just high-quality or affordable products or services.

Today’s sophisticated and impatient customers want companies to meet their needs instantaneously. They demand 24×7 support, consistent omni channel interactions and personalized service. And they want it all on their preferred digital channels.

All these trends require companies to go the extra mile, because if these demands are not satisfied, customers can – and do – tear them to shreds on social media.

And if they don’t get the experiences they expect, a majority (58%) are even willing to permanently sever their relationship with a brand. On the other hand, a happy customer brings 2.6X more revenue.

The best – and perhaps only – way to surpass customer expectations and ensure customer satisfaction is by adopting a digital-first approach. Leverage digital advertising to improve customer engagement.

Set up e-commerce portals to simplify their purchase experience. Take advantage of automation tools such as conversational AI chatbots and HR Automation to combine human engagement with digital scale.

Give customers interactive, immersive, multi-touch experiences across all touchpoints across their purchase journey to enhance brand-client relationships, and create mutually-beneficial value.

How Digital-First Benefits Your Employees

Many organizations and business leaders look at digital transformation from a customer-first lens. While there’s nothing with this approach; to understand the true benefits of digital solutions, it’s also important to explore them from an employee-first lens.

According to Forbes, “people like to have the information technology (IT) tools they need to be empowered, productive and successful at work.” For example, this survey found that:

  • For 53% employees, digital tools help with workflow management
  • 42% said they speed up mind-numbing, manual tasks
  • Tools also make 76% more productive

In the post-pandemic world, digital solutions enable employees to work remotely and autonomously with cloud-enabled services, virtual communication tools and project management applications.

Digital tools also improve collaboration, communication and information-sharing, eliminate opaque functional silos and process bottlenecks, optimize workforce performance, and support better, data-driven decision-making.

They also improve employee experiences, and empower them to achieve work/life balance. Happier, more engaged employees make happier, more satisfied customers.

And ultimately, these advantages directly translate into a more productive, profitable company – yours. On the other hand, a lack of such tools can hinder productivity, lower morale, and even increase the risk of frustration and burnout.

For all these reasons, your digital transformation strategy should not be only about impressing customers, or growing your revenues or profits. Instead of making financial considerations the sole focus of your pivot to a digital-first business, think about how it could impact employee experiences as well.


When designed strategically, a digital transformation initiative can help your organization achieve long-term business transformation. However, there’s no silver bullet to get it right.

Ultimately, it’s up to you and your stakeholders to determine your digital business goals, align them with your business priorities, and pick the right digital software and new technologies to achieve these goals and alignment.

Make sure you guard against short-sighted thinking that only factors in the possible benefits to the organization in terms of cost savings, revenue generation and potential profits.

To succeed, your digital-first approach should also consider whether your digital ecosystem will deliver more value to customers through improved services and personalized experiences, and empower employees to do their best work.