Over the past decade or so, a trend emerged among businesses: companies founded on digital platforms and capabilities became fountains of innovation, able to leverage their competitive advantages through an unprecedented explosion of technological and analytic capabilities. These born-digital companies have redefined industry after industry. 

On the other side of that same coin are the born-traditional companies that thrived and were strong value creators before the digital revolution. These companies have great products and ideas, but are all too often playing catch-up to figure out how to use digital tools as adeptly as their digitally native counterparts to turbocharge their growth. As the pandemic accelerated the world’s reliance on digital communication and e-commerce, many of these born-traditional organizations were left unable to effectively ride the wave of opportunity that came with the enforced physical restrictions and mandates.

But - that doesn’t mean that born-digital companies are on a one-way street towards market domination. As they look to move into their next phase, whether that is recovery or further scaling of operations to keep up with the pandemic-induced surge in demand, they must carefully consider and understand which of their characteristics could be advantages to sustain their success in the new world order that’s to come.

Repeated missteps have cost time and wasted money, eroding value and creating reputational risk. The competitive threats posed to early digital innovators by second-wave born-digital enterprises and some born-traditional companies along with an almost unanimous trail behind the curve when it comes to talent management are challenges in need of immediate attention. 

To avoid these expensive mistakes, both born-digital and born-traditional companies can also benefit by learning from each other. To compete against digitally savvy businesses, born-traditional companies built on Industrial Age principles and practices have and will continue to make big changes such as fostering a more innovation-oriented mindset. These changes aren’t easy, but taking a page from digital exemplars’ playbooks is a great guide. Born-digital companies can avoid the pitfalls mentioned by proactively planning in the areas of risk, digital ethics, data privacy, operations, and infrastructure. Plus, those that infuse discipline and rigor into their talent management functions early on will stand the best chance of sustaining their earlier successes far into their future, even if it is one that proves permanently altered in some respects by the pandemic.