Why Keeping Up With Digital Is Life or Death

Why Keeping Up With Digital Is Life or Death

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No matter what industry you are in, the most significant change influencing customers over the past decade has been the massive increase in the role “digital” plays in their lives. If your company is not fully attuned to that reality, or you’re not delivering services in the way customers expect to receive them, then you are probably struggling to succeed in today’s digital world. 

And while your customers consume a wide range of digital experiences, including on PCs, game systems, smart TVs, kiosks, voice-controlled appliances, and a host of other connected devices, it’s clear that the most prevalent access point to the digital world today is the smartphone.

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How important are smartphones in your customer’s life?

A few years ago, when my daughter, Jessica, was in 8th grade, she kept oversleeping and missing the school bus, and I would have to drive her to school. One day, she did it again, and as I was driving her, I told her that from now on, any morning that she missed the bus, she would lose her iPhone for the day. Then, I told her to hand over the device.

That afternoon, I got home from work a little early and found Jessica in the living room despite the fact that she had previously planned to spend the afternoon at the mall with her friends. I asked her what happened. She said, “Well, you took away my phone!”

Not seeing the connection, I asked what that had to do with going to the mall. She lectured me, “There’s no point in going to the mall with my friends if I don’t have my iPhone!” As if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

Perhaps you believe this is just an example of a dramatic teenager trying to inflict parental guilt. I’ll concede this as a likely contributing factor. But consider these stats from several different research studies that looked at how attached your customers are to their smartphones:

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  • There are 265 million smartphones in the U.S. today, covering more than 80% of the population over the age of 10.
  • The average smartphone user checks their phone 80 to 150 times a day; 71% typically sleep beside their mobile phone.

When asked if they had to choose between their smartphone and other things important to them:

  • 64% of Americans said they wouldn’t dine out for a year if they had to give that up to keep their phone.
  • 50% reported that they’d skip vacation rather than relinquish their phone.
  • Nearly half of Americans said they’d work an extra day each week if they had to in order to keep their phone.
  • And more than one in three reported that they’d give up sex for a year versus giving up their phone.

While digital may not be the only thing that matters, for most businesses, if you aren’t delivering on digital, you absolutely aren’t meeting your customers’ needs. This is why I call today’s customers, “digital customers,” as a reminder that no matter what business you are in, the vast majority of your customers today are living a lifestyle that has digital at the center.

Digital is so important to customers’ lives today that if you aren’t delivering an excellent digital experience, you are also in conflict with their fundamental values and worldview. It doesn’t mean they won’t ever buy from you, but it’s very hard for them to love a brand that doesn’t appear to value something so important to them.

To obtain that love, you have to change with the times. And that change that’s happening right now is digital.


Do you personally think keeping up with digital is life or death? Let me know in the comments below.

Have a suggestion for a topic you’d like me to cover? Let me know in the comment section!

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In my Wall Street Journal bestselling book Winning Digital Customers: The Antidote to Irrelevance I share my proven 5-step formula to help you lead a successful digital transformation within your organization. This is the formula that my company uses to enact large scale transformation for a lot of Fortune 500 companies and has been refined over decades of experience. Get the first chapter for FREE here, or purchase the book here.

SUBSCRIBE to DX Weekly for more content each week to help you and your company succeed in the digital world. 

Howard Tiersky is the founder of FROM, The Digital Transformation Agency where he works with leading brands on digital transformation.

  • Check out his Wall Street Journal bestselling book, Winning Digital Customers: The Antidote to Irrelevance.
  • Howard did a podcast episode with the Chief Marketing Officer at Circuit City, Victor Elmann, where they talked about what trends a large retailer like Circuit City are discovering and how they can tie the in-store and digital experience. Listen to the episode here
  • And of course SUBSCRIBE to this newsletter to make sure you stay on top of his weekly insights on digital transformation here on LinkedIn. 

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