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Brain circuits

Are you suffering from digital myopia?

Published 21 November 2022 in Brain circuits • 3 min read

As leaders, once we’ve had some successes it is easy to get tunnel vision. When things are running smoothly, we tend to focus on the positive – but this can be dangerous because we may not see critical new information that is changing the world around us. Many traditional businesses are falling into this trap, failing to notice that digital platforms and data-driven experiences have caused the playing field to change.

For today’s exercise, test yourself to see if your organization may be suffering from this digital myopia. Ask yourself the following questions:

Are you comfortable with your company’s products because sales are strong?

If you answered yes, consider whether you are in a product trap. A product trap is when you fail to see how you can expand your revenue-generating scope using interactive data generated by your products. Are you taking advantage of interactive data from users of your products? You should be.

Has your value chain expanded recently, or ever?

If you answered no, you may be getting stuck in a value chain trap. Your products aren’t the only opportunity your company has. Digital tools can help you expand. For instance, toothbrushes can connect users to dentists and health insurers. Look beyond your product to the whole ecosystem that connects to it to see where there are digital opportunities.

Are you using digital technologies to improve operational efficiencies?

Hopefully you answered yes to this, but is that all you are doing? If so, you may be in an operational efficiency trap. It is important to learn how your whole value chain can generate and share data to find ways to provide new services.

How do you define your customers?

This is important. If your answer is simply the people who buy your products, you have fallen into the customer trap. Your customers are sources of interactive data. Vast amounts of data translate into large new revenue streams – but you must first look beyond your traditional model and leverage the whole ecosystem surrounding your company.

How do you define your competitors?

If you said companies offering similar products, then you have fallen into another trap. There are companies that may be in seemingly different industries who are collecting data on your customers and looking to monetize it. You need to look at what important data you could be collecting and then consider who else is doing it.

If you have found your company to be in any of these traps, it’s a good time to sit down with the strategy team and talk about expanding your digital capabilities, otherwise you are likely going to be left behind.


Mohan Subramaniam

Mohan Subramaniam

Professor of Strategy and Digital Transformation at IMD

Mohan Subramaniam is Professor of Strategy and Digital Transformation at IMD. He focuses on the digital transformation of incumbent industrial firms and new sources of competitive advantage in the digital age. He sets out his thinking on the topic in his new book, The Future of Competitive Strategy: Unleashing the Power of Data and Digital Ecosystems.


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