April 15, 2021 7:52 PM

Speed is the New Scale in Digital Transformation


As digital transformation initiatives continue to affect businesses of all size, speed is becoming the new currency to unlock value.

Leadership teams want the ability to exploit emerging business opportunities at a competitive speed and bring differentiating solutions from concept to market at the pace of the customer.

McKinsey’s research found that CPG and manufacturing companies are pursuing – on average – eight digital transformation-related pilots. At the same time, when it comes to large-scale impact – only 30% of companies can rollout relevant company-wide initiatives.

Too often, these companies undertake an ambitious digital transformation roadmap that can take years and eat up valuable resources…but are not able to realize value at scale, which is a key component of these initiatives that run the gamut.

Fortunately, in looking at the starting point, there are ways to work faster, smarter, and more strategically.

Reflect on Today’s Problems with an Eye Toward the Future

Healthy organizations treat digital transformation as a continuous and dynamic process. For true and measurable digital transformation, it is not enough to solve an expensive one-time challenge that ages too quickly.

Your approach should allow the necessary work of building the strategic and technological frameworks for capturing sustainable impact at scale.

We have learned from our research and direct work with customers that with constantly evolving and growing markets and supporting technology, businesses need to create a foundational digital vision that goes well beyond today and defines business models that enable support for continuous delivery. This can mean adding, for example, new (cloud-native) infrastructure as well as delivering new features to clients. It is no small feat.

Ideally, frameworks and features can be built out simultaneously so operations continue running smoothly in the present with few interruptions, and the entire system is preparing for the future. In this way, digital transformation can continue to serve the needs of the company while being mindful and realistic for current business.

Use Automation to Become More Agile and Resilient

The value of integrating automation cannot be overstated. However, some enterprises are hesitant to invest the time upfront in developing these tools. They worry that this part of the process will actually slow down their teams and delay projects, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

If you value people as your most valuable resource, automation allows them to focus on higher-value results like driving innovation rather than getting caught up in low-value activities like repetitive and time-consuming administrative tasks. Your best people can be tackling your most pressing and important challenges with bigger positive payoffs.

From a leadership perspective, setting automation as a priority also helps create a company culture where innovation is at the forefront and employees feel valued and supported.

When the company puts people processes in place that foster creativity, collaboration, and communication, employees are more productive and make more meaningful contributions.

Define Your Mission and Become its Biggest Proponent

When speed is paramount, teams can’t work in isolation.

Your business pipeline depends on open communication and collaboration amongst various departments. Without a clear vision of specific goals, it can be hard to get everyone on board with this new business model.

Ultimately, at a high level it is up to leadership to create a transformation roadmap with clear expectations about how different teams should contribute and work with one another. This can mean regularly revisiting and/or modifying your digital capabilities as things progress.

Once a vision and plan are in place, company leadership has to become its biggest proponent. Key decision-makers should be leading digital strategies, energizing the troops, and getting everyone on the same page.

If the leadership isn’t excited about the prospect of a full digital transformation, employee support will be half-hearted and eventually simply wear out. This is especially important in the wake of a pandemic that has left many people feeling drained both in and out of the workplace.

Adapt Offerings Based on the Customer Model and Insights

Intelligent automation and analytics have made it easier for companies to gain valuable insights into customer expectations to improve the entire customer experience.

Today’s consumers are savvier and more sophisticated than before. They expect high-quality products, fast and effective services, and superior customer service. With increasingly competitive markets, if they don’t get what they want, chances are high there is another company out there with more to offer.

It is up to companies to invest in the technology and tools needed to better understand their customers and address specific pain points to shift business towards a model of total customer engagement and satisfaction. Stakes are high and immediate: This will be a long-term operational and customer advantage for companies that invest now versus be part of the late majority or laggards in these efforts.

One of the biggest shifts that businesses can expect to see in the coming years is a move towards personalized services, 360-degree view of the customer, contextual recommendations, and other features.

Master and customer data will be the driving force behind creating a personalized customer experience. And businesses that are well-positioned for this change stand to grab a larger portion of the market share.

Demonstrate Tangible Business Value with Data

The critical enabling factor is the ability to collect, process, and gain business insights from all kinds of data from multiple sources (or domains) in helping cross-functional, agile teams move fast at a global scale.

Trusted, clean data allow companies to test and generate rapid results to fund the transformation and build momentum.

Businesses are no longer limited by the confines of four physical walls in a single building. Data and technology tools provide the opportunity to connect across all sorts of boundaries and operate on a larger scale without taking on traditional costs, like labor or additional cooled rooms of hardware.

These tools are essential for companies to be faster, more resilient, and flexible. AI, machine learning, and analytics allow companies to adapt at the pace of business. The tools exist and are proven on an enterprise scale. It is now a matter of figuring out how to make them work for your business so that you don’t get left behind in rapidly changing environments.

As you put together a digital transformation roadmap, speed and momentum is at the heart of any successful plan. A robust technology platform is helpful, but the human element must be taken into consideration.

As you focus on a customer-centered model, show enthusiasm for new ideas and approaches and work to get everyone onboard with new ways of operating. All of these factors will help speed up the adaptation process and create a digital transformation that continues to support goals.

With digital transformation initiatives, time-to-value is a critical component. With multiple use cases, start small by narrowing the focus on the highest-value initial pilot use-case that can be solved quickly. To achieve significant business value, plan for simultaneous rollouts of impact-creating technology to achieve payoffs in an accelerated timeframe.

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