The Future is Digital and Experiential

Why you should become digital by design and experiential in nature

Digital has won. It is everywhere. You don't need to hear this from Mark Zuckerberg. It’s our new reality. And this reality means that business and society have to be reimagined.

The Internet is almost thirty years old. That makes it a mature adult - practically middle aged. The digitalisation of our lives has crept up on us but now it’s in full swing. Digital is everywhere; every place, every device, every conversation.

The maturity and ubiquity of Internet enabled devices, apps for everything, broadband anywhere, and digital media and communications means digital has to come first in any business strategy.

Millennials have grown up and are taking over as the workers and consumers of today, while generation z is the new youth culture setting tomorrows trends. Both live primarily in a digital world. Yet they are passionate about experiences.

Business leaders should look to make their business digital-first, yet experiential in nature. Imagine your business as if it solely operated online, yet delivered a customer experience so compelling and tailor made that it could be in-person. This is the new reality.

Retailers have to win the e-commerce war. Restaurants the delivery war. Physical outlets are secondary and have to prioritise experience over transaction.

Theatre companies and stadiums will want to reach the bulk of their audiences online with a small number of in-theatre or in-stadium visitors turning up for a different experience. One that can only be enjoyed in-person. At least for now.

Movie studios are being restructured for streaming first and box office second. In-home theatres are becoming more immersive than the local cinema.

Creatives and artists are working on digital platforms both developing and delivering their content. The arts will never be the same. Manufacturers, service providers, public sector bodies and charities will have to be as digitally savvy as Apple. Advanced software, networking and storage have become so commoditised that there is no excuse for delay.

Sports clubs, gardens, parks and zoos will become primarily digital attractions, engaging with audiences globally - online. The in-park visit a more intimate affair for locals and tourists. The volume customer will be online and the niche, higher value customer in-park.

The concept of the digital device is expanding to incorporate not just the current mix of computers, phones, speakers and tv’s but also wallets, tools, cars, homes, trains and planes.

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With the development of virtual reality the digital experience will become as intimate, engaging and immersive as any physical experience. And it's just around the corner.

The Letts Group made a commitment to digital first after it lost the battle for the diary to Microsoft on the desk and Nokia in the pocket. Letts media is a digital-first publishing company and Letts Surviving a digital-first think tank.

We are currently incubating Letts Safaris as a digital attraction supported by a concept in-park journey. Letts Environment has developed an eco-infrastructure solution called smaller-scale rewilding and recently published a book on it with Letts Media. Not in print but online. A next generation ebook-as-a-service. Check it out at DSP Online.

It was a decade ago that Marc Andreessen, the Silicon Valley entrepreneur and investor, made shock waves by urging newspaper publishers to ditch the printing presses and go all in on digital. He might have been a little early but today it is reality, no matter what industry you’re in.

Is it surprising that the majority of the top ten most valuable companies are digital-first? It seems that Coronavirus lockdowns have accelerated this trend by about five years. Now it is our new reality.

Don't make the mistake of exiting your lockdown without a clear plan for how you and your business become digital by design and experiential in nature.

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