When everything is digital, what does 'digital' even mean?

Some words, like ‘digital’, are so ubiquitous they begin to lose all meaning. We explore the future of the concept of 'digital'.
Written by
Billy Williams
Published on
January 5, 2021
When everything is digital, what does 'digital' even mean?

The year is 2030, and a class is studying the role digital played in the wild year of 2020. You know, that year, the one where everything happened. A student asks the question, “what do you mean by the word digital?” The teacher looks up, perplexed, not really knowing how to describe what digital is in a world where there is nothing but digital.

Because how do you describe the opposite of something that no longer exists? As the teacher looks around they consider how to show the student what a life before digital was like.

Digital used to mean something, they thought. But now, being digital is the status quo, a non-differentiating factor in a world which can no longer remember what the pre digital age looked like.

Although our fictional characters’ conversation takes place in 2030, the sentiment of this interaction is already our reality, it’s just not been fully realised yet.

Being a ‘digital’ company is no longer a strategy. Because when you think about it, really, what does this statement even mean?

Today digital means pushing a 10-word notification to your users’ phone to encourage them to open your app and read that latest blog post.

Digital means making your website machine readable so that your information is as accessible from a car as it is from a mobile phone.

Digital is having Instagram as your main shop window with a minimal website because you sell directly through their platform as your customers spend most their lives scrolling through their Insta feed.

Digital is taking advantage of a moment and implementing a rapid social media campaign to connect with users you would otherwise not be in contact with.

Digital is being able to touch invisible buttons in the air whilst controlling something on a screen.

Digital is gaming the algorithms to help drive your YouTube subscribers, or utilising its user interface to generate a completely novel social media campaign.

Digital is customer service with a smile, driven by information you’ve gained from your customers’ past experiences with you.

Because when everything is digital, nothing is digital

The concept of ‘being digital’ is already dead.

‘Digital’ companies grow more invisible with every passing day as internet-based services become more and more ubiquitous in our lives. How do you stand out in a crowd where the differentiator is who you are, rather than the services you use to connect with your customers?

The businesses that rapidly grow over the coming years already know this. They will pivot quickly and will understand that their users do not care for brands who cannot follow them into new territories. Those left behind will be grasping at their current platforms, rather than looking at new ones as opportunities to grow and accelerate their businesses. When customers no longer care about how they consume their services, where will that leave you? Like the teacher in our story, it’s easy to be blindsided by the world changing irretrievably around you, but you can control how your business shapes up to this new challenge and leap into an exciting new future.

So, what are you going to do about digital?

Get in touch today to make progress tomorrow.

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