If you want to get serious about transforming your business digitally, start with recognizing all of your competitors\nIt is time to acknowledge that our customers\u2019 digital experience expectations are being increasingly influenced by both their everyday B2C experiences, as well as by disruptive experiences that are jumping industry boundaries.\nBrands and businesses are now judged not only on how well they perform in their industry, but also on how well they perform based on overarching categories such as relevancy, social awareness, ease of use and engagement. Gone are the days of solely using the Net Promoter Score to measure customer experiences of your brand. It\u2019s just not good enough.\n+ Also on Network World:\u00a0The big picture of digital transformation +\nCompanies need to dig deeper and look at what\u2019s considered "perceptual benchmarking."\nIn a nutshell, that means watching out for businesses in all industries that provide experiences that are so great that customers will\u2014consciously or unconsciously\u2014look for something similar in your industry. Benchmark the experiences you offer against those. Because your customers\u2019 expectations are no longer limited by what you and your industry peers have been offering so far.\nTwo dependent developments are driving the need to look for competition outside of your industry: customer expectations are becoming liquid, and a shifting set of characteristics are making brands and their products and services really matter to people.\nExpectations are becoming liquid\nIf you\u2019re in banking, your mobile banking apps should not be just as good or even better than what other banks offer. You should be asking yourself what you can do to address the expectations your customers might have set by the likes of Facebook Messenger (or WeChat, if you do business in China)\u2014both of which have seriously raised the bar.\nIf your business is a quick-service restaurant, think about how Uber\u2019s reservation and check-out payment process could reset your customers\u2019 expectations for how convenient your reservation, ordering or checkout can be.\nInterestingly, it\u2019s mostly (industry) newcomers that begin to set present and future expectations of what best-in-class experiences look and feel like, and their customers have begun to catch on. They aren\u2019t encumbered by such thinking as \u201cBut we have always done it that way,\u201d \u201cOur customers are different; they would never would go for that,\u201d or \u201cThat\u2019s cheesy for our industrial B2B brand.\u201d\nIt\u2019s time to cast a wider net when considering the shift in customer expectations and the opportunities to differentiate yourselves vis-\u00e0-vis\u00a0your direct competitors. Otherwise, your analytics might lead you to playing catch-up with companies marked as front-runners in your industry while you lose customers to perceptual competitors.\nWhat people value among brands and brand experiences regardless of industry\nNow that you have broadened the playing field beyond your direct and indirect competitors, another important step toward understanding customer value is benchmarking yourself against the right categories.\nIt\u2019s no big surprise that in a recent survey-based, brand ranking conducted by Accenture, Netflix, Amazon, Apple and Facebook came out on top. What\u2019s interesting is the why. (Bear in mind that these companies influence what customers view as great experiences overall, even if you manufacture and sell shoes.)\nThey excel at some very specific factors:\n\nFun: Holds my attention in an entertaining way\nRelevant: Gives me clear and customized information I want, when I want it\nEngaging: Identifies with my individual needs and wants\nSocial: Helps me connect with others\nHelpful: Is efficient, is easy and adapts over time\n\nThose may sound a bit soft, particularly if the respondents work in B2B or a \u201cserious\u201d business such as selling welding equipment, electrical componentry or bulldozers. But step back for a second and think: Are you a different person when you do business with your bank from when you shop for groceries? Your objective need is different, but your judgement about whether this has been a satisfying experience is not.\nHow this impacts your digital (business) transformation\nI recently had a conversation with a senior executive who works at a publicly held,\u00a0U.S. corporation in regard to organizing for digital success. The executive asked me, \u201cWhere was the analytics organization?\u201d Following consultant protocol, I stopped and shared that analytics is not the end; it is one of many means to the end.\nThe end is really all, and only, about actionable insights.\nThere are many ways companies can take to these insights (I mentioned some of them in my previous post). While each of these would merit a separate post (and some of them I will cover in more detail going forward), they all should start with the question: Who\u2019s my customer and what\u2019s moving them? Increasingly, it\u2019s not what\u2019s happening in the confines of the industry you know.