Companies need to focus on how they make or deliver the products and services to delight customers and offer them compelling value propositions. Inherent in this is the understanding personalized experiences have now become far bigger drivers of consumption, requiring a different approach to innovation and customer engagement.
Jon McNeill, CEO and Co-Founder at DVx Ventures says “Future creators are impatient. They're dissatisfied, not in a negative way but always looking to make it better. The C-suites that are very engaged with the front lines, very engaged with their product, actually walked the customer journey frequently with their own product, they are very dialed in. And it makes an incredible difference when you have a very fast feedback loop that doesn't come through layers internally, but actually comes directly from the market. The speed and agility within the organization takes on a very different pace.”
Driving this type of human-centered personalized innovation requires diversity at all levels of the organization. It has been proven more diverse teams drive better innovation. This includes diversity not just in age, gender and ethnicity but also background and skills. Companies need to acquire talent beyond their industry boundaries, reaching to adjacent markets and competencies to bring fresh thinking and new ideas into the organization.
Yet diversity remains elusive. Only 28% of respondents to the study said they create diverse and inclusive teams at all levels. The gap is more pronounced at the very top: when asked about the most important changes that could be made to the C-suite, only 8% cited greater diversity and 7% said talent from outside the company.
As companies race to adopt cutting-edge technologies and drive breakthrough innovations, they must carefully consider the human impact to mitigate risks and create trusted relationships with customers, employees and ecosystem partners. Consistently and persistently putting humans at the center of every decision helped CEOs galvanize and motivate employees as well as attract customers, giving them a competitive edge and ultimately leading to growth and a stronger market position.
Responsibly accelerate technology adoption
The pandemic has catapulted us into the digital-first era literally overnight. Unsurprisingly, the results of the study bear out the conclusion that technology acceleration has become one of the most significant drivers of transformation. A majority of respondents (68%) anticipate significant investment in data and technology over the next year, while 63% said accelerating technology and digital innovation is having the greatest impact on their company.
With new technologies emerging and maturing more quickly, companies that can leverage them as instruments of creativity will inherently perform better. Apart from leveraging these technologies, companies will need to deploy technology faster as well in order to serve the ever-evolving needs of customers, employees and ecosystem partners. Perhaps unsurprisingly, digital driven business transformation (56%) and AI/data science (41%) emerged as top competencies requiring new or increased C-suite attention.
However, companies need to carefully consider the human impact of every technology before widescale deployment, as public awareness of the security, privacy and ethical risks grows. CEOs need pay particular attention to building trust with stakeholders to reap the full benefit afforded by AI and data science.
Successfully leveraging and implementing technology at speed requires upskilling and reskilling employees as well as diffusing a transformative mindset across the entire organization at all levels. Forward-looking risk management practices and strong cybersecurity capabilities will be linchpins in fully realizing the value of technology to improve the human experience in our increasingly virtual world.
Thoughtfully scaling innovation
The pandemic is forcing companies to reimagine every aspect of their business – product and service design, business models, operating model and more – re-engineering each for innovation and agility. While all companies need to protect and reinforce their core business, they also need to get into the habit of continuous and rapid innovation.
Leaders must begin with a “future-back” approach. Start by asking whether your company will be relevant in 5, 10 or 15 years and how you might expand your competitive advantage through bold risk-taking. With this in mind, you can then explore the future and potential scenarios to adapt your innovation agenda and enterprise strategy.