Well-established companies are reaching the tipping point for entering the digital age. In a world that is increasingly online, businesses need the help of digital strategy teams to stay competitive.

In the era before Web 2.0, the retail sale cycle ended with the sale: a customer walked into a store with a specific product in mind, talked to an available associate, made their purchase, and left. But thanks to social media forums like Facebook and Yelp, the consumer base is getting increasingly connected. These days, the sales cycle never ends — it continuously loops from research, to purchase, to consumer reviews, to social media interactions, all the way back to purchase. Customers now are through omni-channel experiences.

Constant consumer contact is the new rule in the acquisition game, and businesses that have yet to embrace digital don’t have the tools they need to keep up. In the Consumer Age, being competitive means having in-depth knowledge of and meaningful, timely engagement with the customer 24/7.

Digital transformation represents the new innovator’s dilemma for traditional businesses. In his seminal work, Clayton Christensen argued that mature companies ignore innovative ideas because those ideas don’t appear to meet their customer’s current needs. Ultimately, though, these ideas serve an even more valuable future or unstated need that new competitors fulfill. Companies that don’t stay on their toes with innovation trip over themselves to catch up, or fail altogether. When was the last time anyone went to a Blockbuster Video store?

Take Uber in New York City: New Yorkers don’t need a hired car — they have taxis. What they do need, though, is a car hiring experience that is efficient, seamless, and above all customer-oriented. The low-quality service of the yellow cab made people want something better. Now, yellow cabs in the city are desperate to fight the free-market foothold Uber has acquired and have enlisted the city government to help.

These actions have only angered New Yorkers and hindered innovation in New York City’s transportation infrastructure. Had the Taxi & Limousine Commission of New York hired a digital acceleration team (DAT) to bring their services into the 21st century, they might not be in such dire straits today.

Digital Strategy and What it Means For Your Business

digital strategy team will start by determining the experiences consumers demand and work backwards to the features and technology necessary to meet those demands.

After their initial analysis these digital mavens can help embed digital into the core business, its operations, and the operational model. Ultimately, the digital ubiquity will help break down silos that get in the way of innovation.

It’s critical that traditional businesses build an infrastructure that focuses first on consumer, employee, and partner experiences. With a reoriented focus and digital capabilities imbued into the DNA of the company, adapting to new consumer needs and innovating will be infinitely easier.

Looking Outward for Internal Development

Just like a good author has a good editor, so too should a strong company hire a strong digital strategy team from the outside. A fresh perspective on internal machinations can reveal strengths and weaknesses no one previously saw. Furthermore, building a digital strategy team from the ground up requires years of experience and expertise.

While hiring one or two people to aid in digitizing a company can help in the short term, an external strategy team can provide strategy, implement governance policy, and aid in the execution of new digital tools. Additionally, an external team can more efficiently prioritize tasks and goals. They won’t let pet projects or other initiatives with no digital benefit distract them from task of bringing a firm to digital maturity.

In order to ensure your firm can adapt quickly to the changing tides of consumer demands, it needs to be at peak digital performance. And acquiring a digital strategy team is the best way to get there quickly and effectively.