Every team is undefeated at the beginning of a season. Every runner starts with the same distance to cover. For a short period of time, organizations are starting from the same position when it comes to digital.
This will change, but in the meantime there has never been a better time to get serious about digital than right now, while everyone is still at the beginning.
All I need is a tall ship and a star to sail her by,” Sea Fever by John Masefield . The digital analogy is “give me a roadmap, a business case and a company to digitize.” Executives believe these make sense at the start of a digital transformation initiative.
It has been a while since the blog discussed the 12 truths that will become self-evident in the digital world, but its time to get back to these. Results trump responsibilities highlights the organizational impact of becoming a digital business. It is easy to see digital as a collection of specific technologies such as mobile, social media, cloud, big data, analytics, sensors, 3D printing, etc. The individual organizational impact of these technologies appears relatively slight. However, in combination, these technologies transform the organization.
Large companies have it.
Conventional business thinking, particularly as it relates to digital business, sees scale as a hindrance to innovation and success. Scale in a world of rapid change creates an anchor to the past in their view, something that holds a company back, makes it unnecessarily conservative, all at a time when competition seems to be a game of survival of the fittest.
Conventional wisdom holds that disruption comes from the outside-in. Executives and strategists look outside their four walls often ignoring their internal response to subtle precursors to disruption. Limited introspection creates the sense that disruption happens suddenly, externally and largely outside the company’s control. However, I believe that internal signs of external disruption exist if we only look for them.
Technology changes channel economics, capabilities and capacities, also changing the rules in favor of some and disrupting others. Evaluating changes in the go-to-market channels is another technique for assessing the silent signs of disruption.
Customers disrupt companies when they choose alternative approaches to meeting their needs. When this happens the average age of a company’s customer base tends to lengthen as current customers stay and new customers materialize at competitors or even in different industries. Diagnosing those signs of disruption was the focus of a prior post.
Pundits like to work in colors. They use black and white to color their advice and the situation facing the audience. Gray is the color of everything else from the objections of the audience to the issues that do not fit a pundit’s argument or model. Disruption is a black and white issue for pundits.
Technology is antagonistic to middle management. The reverse is often true as well. It is time to look beyond the past and conceive of a new relationship between the two, particularly in the digital world. Why? Because the dynamics of digital demands a new style of leadership that middle management is well positioned to deliver if middle managers would only stop being administrators and become real managers.
Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
It’s a paradoxical question applied to everything from innovation to evolution to change management. The answer is rather simple – it’s the egg.
The “Chicken First” proponents see it the other way. They point out the need for a chicken first that lays chicken eggs. Sound logic based on observation and the notion that what is in the present was also in the past.
Every company has a playbook in one form or another. A playbook contains the strategies, approaches, programs, actions, etc., – the ‘plays’ that the company executes in its operations. Playbooks can be formal documents called playbooks, but they are also business process workflows, standard operating procedures and cultural values that shape a consistent response – the play.
When organizations need to demonstrate their digital strategy and capability they often pull out a sheet of glass. These sheets are presentation layers in mobile phone, tablet, PF and TV screens. Rendering digital results on screens from marketing, sales, service channels and customer experiences are tangible proof of digital making interfaces on glass a focus of digital investments. It is an important but incomplete focus.
Step back and think about the relationship between business and technology. Transformational or disruptive ideas seem to come in co-dependent pairs. Business ideas give shape to these ideas providing the why and what. Technology innovations turn shape into substance through answering questions about when and how.
Disruption is a popular topic among executives and consultants alike. Fear drives the majority of the conversation, with companies seeing themselves as the object of disruption rather than the subject creating disruption. It seems for most of us, we are on the receiving end of disruption. Disruption should be the catalyst for business change because disruption itself indicates changing conditions that place you on the wrong end of the trend.
Digital refers to a set of technologies changing people, customers, industries, companies, products and services. Digital technologies include mobile computing, social media, business analytics, big data, cloud, sensor networks and the like. These technologies have been coming ‘online’ over the past five years and are reaching a critical mass that is changing business.
Charlene Tsang and Richard Amico work in Accenture’s High Performance Institute. We were having a conversation about digital a little while ago and shared the following thoughts.
As we get closer to 2014 and the launch of the next Accenture Technology Vision, we were looking back at the 2013 Technology Vision report and its premise that every business is a digital business. And we were left with a big question: what’s the difference between looking digital and being digital?
It is easy to think that we live in the most dynamic and turbulent of times. Demands for constant change, disruption, customer and cost pressures make the first digital decade a unique time to be a leader. The inference is that everything that came before was nothing compared to what we have to do in the near future. After all we are living on the cusp of the future, right?
This statement is more than a word trick for IT to stake out its position in the digital world. It is a statement of fact that digital technologies deliver value best when they work with IT. But not just any type of IT, high performing IT according to Accenture’s recent High Performance IT Study of more than 200 companies with more than $2.4 trillion dollars of revenue.
Start-up is a common term for new technology intensive companies. Recently the media describes digital start-ups ‘over the top’ or OTT, reflecting the realities of the digital world. This term describes how digital newcomers use incumbents as platforms to create disruption.
‘Over the top’ describes how digital start-ups position themselves relative to the rest of the world. They literally work ‘over the top’ of pre-existing often commercial and public infrastructure.
People drive digital disruption through their choices and voices. Customer centricity is again a hot button in business strategy and executive conversations. But rather than just being about customer centricity, the conversation centers on customers in a digital world.
There is at least one PowerPoint slide in every CMO’s deck describing where they position the customer in the digital ecosystem.
Transactions drive every business. The transaction defines the basic unit of commerce, the thing that reflects business activity. Each industry has its own definition of its basic business transaction. An airline ticket, order line item, an insurance policy, a download, a contract, or office visit represent different transaction types. Revenue is a function of the value of each transaction multiplied by the volume of transactions over a certain period.