1. Set a comprehensive technology strategy for your business
Consider how your business could be transformed by the technologies that already exist today and further transformed by emerging technologies that will mature in future. For example, how could your business use technologies such as robotics and machine learning to better serve existing clients or develop new channels to market? Which use cases and business ideas can you find for blockchain technology to allow your business to save money while operating more efficiently and safely? How could artificial intelligence and data analytics give your organization a competitive advantage?
New technologies open a wealth of opportunities for businesses to enhance their existing operations and create new revenue streams. A good transformation strategy balances both these requirements while also factoring in how digital transformation is simultaneously affecting the organization’s customers, suppliers and other stakeholders.
The strategy should acknowledge that the pace of change will not, and should not, be uniform across every function and process of the business. Some functions and processes – particularly if they are impacted by the first wave of disruption or change – may need to change at a much, much faster pace than others. Then there is the question of how do you pick up the pace of transformation? Jack Welch, the former chief executive of General Electric, once said: “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.” Since change is a never-ending process, the most successful businesses will always transform at a faster pace than their marketplace.
2. Don’t try to go it alone
Transformation has the potential to catch businesses out. This is because it can start very, very slowly and then suddenly accelerate and take off at a rapid rate – particularly if consumer buying patterns shift or there’s an unexpected change in the regulatory or geopolitical environment.
The unpredictability associated with transformation, together with the scale and speed of it, mean that it is best addressed by a group of companies working together in a collaborative way. The idea that a single organization can absolutely own and control a transformation from end to end is becoming an increasingly antiquated concept. It’s too slow, for starters. And too risky, because it requires the organization to invest everything.
That’s why we see the emergence today of an agile, ecosystem-based approach to working. A set of players in an ecosystem will come together to work on a specific customer or segment of the marketplace, or a particular type of distribution. Through collaboration, they will then develop innovative products and solutions and they may even create an entirely new platform that comes to be adopted as the de facto standard for a particular industry.