Embracing digital transformation is key to survival in today's business world. Find out how these companies succeeded where others failed.

Bon-Ton, RadioshackToys “R” Us, IHeartMedia–these are just a few of the companies that filed for chapter 11 in the past year. Both the retail industry and media industry have struggled to keep pace with our evolving digital world, but many other industries are facing similar challenges.

However, where some companies are failing, others are making tremendous strides forward. There are many traditionally based businesses–companies that have been operating well before the Digital Age changed everything–that have embraced digital transformation with open arms. These companies have incorporated omni-channel shopping experiences, invested in IoT sensors, leveraged data analyzation, and more. Their leadership is not afraid to shake up the status quo while keeping a keen eye on future tech and trends. So, even though entire industries may be facing disruption on many fronts, these companies have found a way to beat the competition and continue delighting their customers.

Here are just a few examples of companies that have successfully leveraged digital strategies to thrive in today’s hyper-competitive markets:

New York Times

Twenty years ago, if you hopped on the subway during rush hour in Manhattan, you’d be surrounded by people with their noses buried in newspapers. Today, however, everyone’s attention is glued to their phones instead.

Digital has been killing the media industry–particularly publishing and newspapers–for over 15 years now. According to The Atlantic, “Between 2000 and 2015, print newspaper advertising revenue fell from about $60 billion to about $20 billion, wiping out the gains of the previous 50 years.”

But one newspaper managed to navigate these turbulent waters by embracing digital. The New York Times decided to implement a successful subscription model for their online content that allowed the company to continue to deliver the same type of high-quality journalism and content their readers trusted for over 167 years. They don’t rely on ads or clicks so they can make content decisions based on journalism principles instead of the advertiser’s demands.

This method appears to be working. According to their January 2017 report, “Last year, The Times brought in almost $500 million in purely digital revenue, which is far more than the digital revenues reported by many other leading publications (including BuzzFeed, The Guardian and The Washington Post) — combined.”

Fidelity

Founded in 1946, Fidelity has come a long way when it comes to digital transformation. While many other companies in the financial industry have struggled to compete with fintech startups, this multinational financial services corporation has been betting big on digital and it shows.

The mobile app, in particular, is one of Fidelity’s shining achievements. With a current rating of 4.7 stars and a half a million reviews on Apple, it’s safe to say customers are happy with the Fidelity app experience. One of the biggest wins is that this company managed to successfully mimic the desktop trading experience in the app–allowing customers to make trades and invest on the go.

Disney Parks

While Disney is definitely not a princess that needed to be saved, it’s important to make note of their impressive digital transformation efforts.

In 2015, Disney Parks announced it would be investing $1 billion in IoT sensors to be used throughout their parks. Today, guests who attend Disney World get a MagicBand wristband that uses RFID technology to make their time in the park seem even more magical. These bands act as payment, hotel room keys, and even ride tickets. And the data Disney collects as their customers use these bands only helps the company find more ways to improve the user experience.

Walmart

While smaller retailers are dropping like flies, it’s only a matter of time before Amazon starts taking out the big name players like Target, Home Depot, Best Buy, or Walmart. The latter, however, decided to take action rather than sit on the sidelines and wait for the inevitable.

Walmart has been squaring up with Amazon by changing its online return policies to make things easier for consumers, offering the lowest prices, and promoting the fact that you don’t need a membership to order online (this latest ad hit right when Amazon increased Prime memberships).

But it doesn’t stop there. Walmart has also diversified its offerings–buying up online brand names like Jet and Mod Cloth and even selling clothes from Lord & Taylor. In addition, the Walmart mobile app continues to improve the customer experience. The latest update allows customers to add up the costs (including sales tax) on their shopping lists before they even leave the house. Once a customer gets to the store, they can interact with the app’s “store assistant” to guide them to items on their list via a map.

The Harvard Business Review sums these efforts up nicely: “Walmart is increasingly becoming a ‘digital winner’, as it builds out a fast-growing ecommerce business and also leads in digital innovations when compared to other brick-and-mortar retailers.”

This is one company that’s leaning into digital hard, and giving Amazon a run for their customers’ money.

Wrapping up

While each of the above companies uses different strategies when it comes to digital transformation there is one common denominator across the board: a better experience for the customer. The companies that are successful in digital are the ones who put the customer at the center of everything they do. No matter how the technology continues to evolve, the brands that focus on the customer will know the best ways to transform moving forward.

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