Nailing the new normal: a step-by-step guide to implementing your digital business model

by Maarten Jansen
Change is inevitable, and the digital transformation has been accelerated to a point of no return. With the right approach, your company can shift its strategy and capitalize on new opportunities to thrive in the digital era. We’ve talked about how to go about creating a change-ready business plan, but putting it into action is another story. While every business is unique, here are the basic steps to implementing your digital business model:

Step 1: Make sure it’s a true transformation

As we’ve written about before, digitizing and digital transformation aren’t the same thing. Emailing a newsletter instead of sending it by snail mail is a good example of digitizing. Questioning your whole approach toward customer relations and then employing the tech you need to implement it is digital transformation. So before you get ready to put your plan into action, make sure you’re going beyond translation your current business model into new tech. This is an opportunity to reassess who makes your core customer base, what your company offers to fulfil their key needs, and how you can deliver this in a profitable way.

Ultimately change is created by people, not by tech. It’s important to prepare an organization for change by adjusting people’s expectations and introducing the type of mindset and thinking that is conducive to innovation and experimentation. An implementation period will need to be planned in to make sure all your staff is on board with the new way of doing things.

Step 2: Plan for the unplannable

Welcome to business in the post-planning era. Of course planning is an essential part of running a business, but in digital times it has taken on a whole new meaning. Essentially we have to plan to be surprised, disrupted, and proven wrong. It’s called assumption-based planning, and it helps companies deal with uncertainty by planning in the monitoring and validation of the assumptions they make.

When you’re going through a digital transformation and redefining your business using new technology, these assumptions need to be tested quickly and effectively. By checking them at each step, adjustments can be made with the least investment of time and resources. So create a plan accounting for potential risks and uncertainties which gives you room to pivot and adjust.

Step 3: Test out your assumptions

Assumptions can include the technical feasibility of the product and its capabilities, but more importantly assumptions about the customer and what they need or want. This is the famous “problem-solution fit” where the target customer is identified through a thorough understanding of their problems and how you can solve them. It’s important to quickly see what works and what doesn’t.

Once you’ve validated the problem-solution fit, you have to confirm the fit between the customers and your product itself: the “product-market fit.” What are the “must-haves”, and how attractive is your solution to your market generally? This is where the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) comes in. As we’ve covered before, MVPs save you lots of time and money spent on features that don’t meet your users’ needs and lets you find your market fit as quickly as possible. Here again, it’s all about fast iteration: incorporate feedback directly into the solution and then test the improved version (again and again).

Step 4: Now it’s time for the nitty gritty

You may think it’s a little late in the game for this, but after all these assumptions have been tested it’s time to really get into your revenue model. The whole idea behind this approach is to test assumptions before too much has been invested, and customer interest must be confirmed first. Once the value proposition and product have been defined, you can test the customer’s willingness to pay.

Next you map and develop the production and logistics needed to carry out the realization of your concept. This is when you partner up with manufacturers and build your exact cost structure. That’s right, we left the HOW for last, after who, what and why.

Step 5: Set yourself up for success

Before you launch, determine what success will look like for you and how it can be measured. What are your KPIs? What is the potential for scaling? Put it in numbers!

This is also where the product changes hands to those who are going to manage it from day to day. Making this transition as smooth and thorough as possible will be essential to pave the road to success. Finally, keep in mind that change is a given, and have agile strategies for both your business model and the implementing tech to be able to deal with both long-term shifts that are underway as well as the unexpected.

Need a digital partner to help conceptualize change and put your plan into action? Get in touch with us here and let’s talk about how to make your business future-proof.

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