Born Digital? Not So Fast – The Truth About “Native” Digital Companies

Just like we categorize generations of people into groups to identify the common denominator in the groups and better understand their behaviors, we’ve also been able to categorize software according to the era they come to be, their defining characteristics, and their maximum expression of power. For example, the latest category of software is called “born in the cloud” because it was designed in and for cloud use exclusively, allowing all of its functions, updates and upgrades to be completed fully in the cloud. In the same vein, the more recently sprouted companies that came to be in time of seemingly endless technologies are considered to be “born digital,” as they have at their hands the ability to function with the latest and greatest software in the market. Despite this, not every recently created company can be considered a native digital company. 

There are no guidelines to who can start a business or how they decide to run it outside of its success, so it’s really up to the founder or chief executives to optimize its digitization and ensure that the processes are all as digital as possible. It’s assumed that every company after 1995 is born-digital because of their ability to tap into the internet and all the best tools that come with it. However, some habits die hard and because the people leading the company may have been born much earlier, they can be potentially using some old tried-and-true processes or systems instead of the latest available technology. 

One of the defining characteristics of a born-digital company is that they typically have less employees and get more things accomplished, because they complement their employees’ skills and experience with the highest capabilities machines have to offer, with technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics process automation, etc. all of which continue to need human interaction and support and can’t operate completely unsupervised – yet. A good example of this type of company is SnapChat, which is known and functions worldwide, but only employs around 300 people. The born-digital companies are closely associated with the human generation born around that same time, but there are some statistics that may surprise you about Gen Z, considering it’s the first natively digital generation: 

  • 48% of Gen Z enjoys turning pages rather than swiping and clicking
  • 57% of respondents said they like holding a physical copy
  • 53% of those polled said they like the smell of print

This tells those who think magazines and newspapers are dead for good, there may just still be a market for these media. 

Instead of focusing on the time frame that a company was born in to determine whether or not it’s digital, let’s take a look at some defining characteristics we should look for to know if the company is truly existing in its full digital world potential: 

  • Digital Onboarding: does the company have the ability to gain and onboard new customers fully digitally? Most customers nowadays are able to become patrons of businesses without using any physical elements or being present to do so, but some companies that deal with privacy and personal identification requirements still may need some physical interactions with the customer. 
  • Customer interactions: does the customer need to appear in person or be on the phone for an extended amount of time to fix an issue? We have found that most companies that think they still need to physically speak to their customers can actually automate most of the customer service department with virtual assistants and tools that help make this a seamless experience. 
  • Portals and platforms: does the company have a front-facing site or portal for customers? Do they have an app? A chatbot? Can they employ a platform to run any and all interactions with clients? Granted, some customers still prefer human interaction, so it’s important to offer that channel as well, but whatever can be conducted online through technology, should be. 

Here’s the good news: it doesn’t really matter whether or not you were “born digital” because you can take action on the matter right now, and we’re here to help. Undergoing a digital transformation may seem intimidating and endless but neither has to be true if you partner with the right organization and ecosystem to get you to the point where you need to be, for your customers. If you’re ready to move forward and take the next step in your digital journey, contact us.