In the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889, early one morning 50 000 people lined up to race for their piece of the available two million acres. Literally within half a day, claims were staked and, by dusk, the nimble had set up themselves up for generations to come.

I believe we’re living through a similar period in history. Irrespective of your organisations’ market position right now, the race is on to claim digital pre-eminence in your market. Those who get there first are positioning themselves to grow and prosper in the new, connected world.

2014 saw the developed world reach a tipping point when, for the first time in history, the majority of purchases where internet-influenced. Just to be clear, that’s not consumer purchases only, but business-to-business purchases too. Added to that, the digital generation – born around the 90’s – had come of age. They’d grown up connected, and hence if your organisation’s not digitally savvy, they consider it backward. They won’t enjoy buying from you, and certainly won’t want to work for you.

More recently, the COVID pandemic has upped the stakes even further. It provided a brutal moment of truth: your customers either embraced your digital touchpoints, or went elsewhere. Your employees were either able to interact remotely with your cloud-connected systems, or productivity plummeted.

The developing world is taking similar shape. In Kenya, for example, there are now more M-Pesa (mobile money) accounts than bank accounts, and throughout the continent smartphone usage is growing at an unprecedented rate, accelerated by recent developments.

All of this represents an opportunity, but it really is a brief window of opportunity, before the dust settles on the new status quo. The opportunity before us is this:

It’s often still surprisingly achievable to shoot for digital dominance in your market, even if your business isn’t a market leader. Getting that right brings immediate rewards, and positions you for growth in an increasingly digital world.

You may not be the market leader currently, but you can still develop a vision and plan to achieve the no. 1 digital user experience in your market. This usually entails embracing of change on many levels, but those that commit to the journey of transformation are likely to be the brands of tomorrow.