“Digital” is the buzzword du jour in consulting circles. But what exactly does it mean, and does it deserve the hype?

A lot of new gizmos and ideas are marketed as the next game changers, and many of them are already lying dead on the side of the technology roadmap. But a few have demonstrated proven success and should be included in any serious digital enablement strategy.

Before you consider what technologies you might want to explore, take the time to work on two fundamentals:

An actual digital strategy. Countless companies have gone searching for the holy grail without stepping back to think about where they’d like to be after their technology investment has been spent and implemented. A thorough digital strategy that focuses on both front and back office solutions, as well as an enhanced customer experience, will be of far greater value than deciding to implement bots everywhere.

An enhanced customer experience. Focusing on your target clientele and their communication and interaction preferences will help shape their customer experience. More self-help, greater transparency, and need for the immediate have taken hold in social circles, and any customer experience that fails to act on these new ways of connecting will allow an organization to be surpassed by their competition.

Once you know where you’re going and what you want your customer experience to be, look to digital technologies to enable your vision:

Mobile. Look around and you’ll see most everyone doing something on their mobile devices. Make sure your customers can connect easily and quickly with you. Focus on technologies that provide relevant data and services in an easy-to-use and speedy interface. No matter if your customer is a private consumer, private equity firm, or business partner, the key is to provide each with a unique experience and interaction suited to their needs. Today’s technology can provide that, and it’s not as expensive to build as you might think.

Low-code applications. Most CIOs will agree that the cost of creating a custom application is staggering when using traditional coding tools and techniques. Low-code development has been around a few years and is starting to gain significant traction over traditional coding languages, in part because it means delivering functionality in weeks, not months (or even years). Using Agile methodologies and low-code development platforms to build custom applications that automate workflows and integrate systems across an architecture has proved to be an inexpensive and highly flexible means of delivering solutions within an organization. Add to that the ability to use these applications on mobile devices, and you’ve got a recipe for operational efficiencies and effectiveness.

Robotic process automation (bots). RPA technology has come a long way since the introduction of the macro. RPA platforms have matured into solutions that allow the automation of highly repetitive tasks or processes that normally would require a pool of resources to perform. In addition, bot technology has grown to where a single bot can perform multiple tasks versus the traditional one-and-done approach. Bots are being used everywhere, too—more than you might realize. You can create a bot to read social feeds that contain subject matter interesting to your service or product and allow it to respond with a targeted ad response. Or use a bot to eliminate the need to duplicate data to and from legacy systems or a series of bots that automate your month-end close across your global ledgers and entities. Bots are versatile digital technology that can be applied practically anywhere.

Data science. Traditionally, companies have focused their business intelligence efforts by implementing tools that will allow them to create reports easier and faster. However, data has become a science in allowing companies to not only create reports faster and easier but also create models that can highlight historical actions, predict your customers’ actions based on their historical activities, and prescribe the actions you should take with your customer to meet objectives, enhance the client experience, and even strengthen your relationship. Reports are great, but predictive data models are so much better.

There are many more technologies and more being developed daily, but the trends discussed here have shown superb return-on-investment and adoption rates. The starting point is to create a sound digital strategy and then to choose the technologies that make the most sense for your business.