Overcoming the (new) digital divide

There is a new digital divide.

This new digital divide isn’t between those who have access to digital technology and those who don’t.  

Instead, the new digital divide is between who realize that digital technology is reshaping the relationship between the inside and the outside of an organization and those who don’t.

Photo: Flickr via Vancouver Film School Digital Design Slam - Music Award Show Identity

Photo: Flickr via Vancouver Film School Digital Design Slam - Music Award Show Identity

Those who do realize the importance of this shift are able to ensure that the structure of the organization is maximized to ensure that they maintain their relevancy in the market. Those who don’t…well….they’re not… 

We’ve been undertaking some research in this area for a while now – for our clients and more generally – and one of our most recent projects has been exploring the impact of this shift in the financial services sector. One of the biggest shifts in the last five years in banking has been the emergence of banking apps. These apps have not only enabled a new ease of access for customers to banking services they have also begun to reshape the very way in which people bank.

We’ve seen concrete examples of these types of shifts such as the reduced numbers of customers going into branches for transactions – preferring instead to use their apps for day-to-day transactions. These shifts have themselves helped catalyze other changes such as the movement away from customer facing employees in banks being purely tellers to them increasingly acting as a form of service-concierge for customers.

Photo: Flickr via UFV Graphic and Digital Design program

Photo: Flickr via UFV Graphic and Digital Design program

Where the real changes are happening though are the ways in which banks and other financial services companies are re-shaping themselves internally to more effectively deal with these external facing changes.

Shifts in the way people bank are leading to shifts in the types of services that they want and how they want them delivered. In order to adapt to these changes, more responsive organizations – those who realize the fundamental digital transformation that’s occurring around them – are literally reshaping the way in which they structure themselves. These shifts include the creation of new cross-organizational functionalities and groups as well as the disestablishment of some functional groups and the creation of others. A number of other organizations though are carrying on with ‘business-as-usual’. For these organizations the ‘new’ digital divide will just grow bigger and bigger as they look to lose market share and organizational effectiveness and efficiency as they increasingly compete in the wrong area(s) and with the wrong tools, structures and processes.

Photo: Flickr via Vancouver Film School Digital Design - Light Painting

Photo: Flickr via Vancouver Film School Digital Design - Light Painting

These shifts are not just confined to the financial services sector but are happening across the entire economy. At the moment though they appear to be particularly impactful for organizations in the service and retail sectors. To continue to be competitive though organizations across the entire economy are going to have to ensure that they’re on the correct side of the new digital divide otherwise they’ll consign themselves to irrelevancy and ineffectiveness and possibly even becoming obsolete.

In our new blog series on overcoming the digital divide we’ll share the findings of our ongoing research as well as talk more about the various opportunities that this shift opens up for organizations wanting to take advantage of the ongoing digital revolution. 

We'll look forward to hearing your comments. 

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