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According to the Altify Business Performance Benchmark Study, digital transformation will be the most disruptive business development in 2017. Almost half of the 833 participants highlighted this as an area of concern.

Digital transformation is not just the application of technology to existing processes. It enables current players and new entrants to reimagine how many functions operate – particularly those that interface with the customer.

While all companies are affected, digital transformation is a bigger deal for bigger companies. A full two-thirds of companies with revenues over $1 billion are concerned about its impact. The causal factor for this discrepancy is the longer-term horizon that large companies need to adopt to effect any strategic change.

Knowledge-Based Industries Are More Exposed

The results of the Business Performance Benchmark Study indicate a more severe impact on certain industries. Those in the B2B arena that will need to respond most quickly are:

  1. Media and Communications

  2. High Tech

  3. Healthcare

  4. High-end Manufacturing

  5. Financial Services

These industries share many attributes. So much of their value is knowledge based, even in high-end manufacturing where intelligent software in an increasingly important part of the offering. The ubiquity of knowledge, the rapid growth in data, and the interconnectivity of devices and people, combine to form the perfect storm for disruptors to employ digital transformation to upset industry incumbents.

In the study, we separately measured advancements in AI as a potential disruptive factor. Many have commented that AI -- with its progress in machine learning, boundless quantities of data, and more sophisticated algorithms -- is a core accelerant for digital transformation.  

However, as with AI, digital transformation must be considered strategically.  

In my book, Tomorrow Today: How AI Impacts How We Work, Live, and Think, I highlight the threat and opportunity:

The risk is that we don’t stop and fully consider how to apply these technological advancements to our betterment. Most successful advances result from a conscious purposeful search for innovation opportunities. They are rarely accidental and they demand an uncommon level of domain-specific knowledge to be successful.

Today’s technology enables innovations in processes, products and marketplaces at a pace we have never seen before. Successful innovation requires ingenuity, focus and, above all else, insight into the problem being solved. That demands deep domain knowledge—particularly when applied to knowledge workers.

These principles apply equally to digital transformation and advancements in AI. 

Indicators of Risk

For sales, marketing, and other customer-facing functions, there are some specific factors to contemplate. You should first recognize the potential threat/opportunity and then consider the strategies that you might use to outpace your competition.

From a go-to-market perspective, companies should be concerned by the potentially disruptive effect of digital transformation if any of the following risk factors exist in their business: 

Immediate Action – Digital Transformation for Sales and Marketing

Further findings from the study indicate that the three most important practices, from a go-to-market perspective, for companies to outpace their competition are: 

To see the full study, visit Altify.

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Author of Amazon #1 Best-Seller Account Planning in Salesforce, Donal Daly is CEO and Founder of (his fifth global business enterprise) The TAS Group, the global leader in Smart Sales Transformation. Combining his expertise in enterprise software applications, artificial intelligence, and sales methodology, he continues to revolutionize the sales effectiveness industry. Feel free to download The TAS Group's latest publication, Battling the 57%: Deconstructing the Buyer Seller Dance.