Can you imagine the CEO sitting opposite the consultant, explaining the organizations present difficulties to regain growth, no matter what they are doing through the existing practices and the assorted business approaches they have taken for many years, they still seem to be ‘treading water’ or even losing ground. They are beginning to worry seriously about their future.
The consultant has heard this already so many time before across many worried organizations. He looks right into the CEO’s eyes and (sort of) snarls back: “You can run but you can’t hide”. This was a famous quote attributed to Joe Louis before one of his boxing fights back in 1946.That might get a CEO’s attention! We are in a digital transformation evolution.
The consultant quickly goes on to explain: organizations are running harder than ever yet they seem always caught out in what they do, other existing competitors are second guessing, anticipating their next moves and executing faster, new ones are constantly emerging. The organizations ideas are just not gaining the traction; they just always seem caught out by others, more nimble, increasingly exposing the weaknesses. There is this certain time of recognition that much has to change, the organization needs to transform itself completely too firstly survive, and then hopefully thrive.
What the consultant is recognizing is the need for change the CEO certainly needs to consider, one that gives a more focused approach on all aspects of digital and what it might provide. One that is a massive transformative one, as the current approaches seem to be running flat-out, all the time, twenty-four by seven, yet this is not helping the organization to stay competitive as everyone else has got them in their sights, sensing their vulnerabilities. They are missing new options to transform their business. New innovation options through digital knowledge.
Then the consultant discusses how does the CEO break out of the constant current ‘dog fights’ he is constantly embroiled in and constantly reacting too, that are equally sucking up most of his top team’s valuable time?
We are close to a future that will work very differently from the past.
The consultant begins to outline some radical options. Yet he starts with yet another famous boxing quote “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” by Mohammad Ali. Mohammad went on to say: “His hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see. Now you see me, now you don’t. George thinks he will, but I know he won’t”. Perhaps the CEO is already running for “cloud” cover.
The emerging world coming out of the clouds offering digital revolutions.
Welcome to the world of digital opportunities that technology is bringing in an array of possible solutions, that the cloud is enabling faster than we can individually absorb. We need to see the value of connecting the digital pulse into innovation through new business models, its all around us.
We often look at fast-moving start-ups, jealous they are not burdened down by legacy systems, outdated policies and entrenched silo’s. Yet fast growing companies are not limited to start-ups, there are growing stories of organizations becoming more nimble, highly focused on core areas and being extremely innovative. They are rapidly learning to capture and translate the emerging business benefits faster and turning their organizations into better innovation machines. These changes are stretching across many different industries.
One missing transformational key for nearly all organizations is embracing digital that combine social media, mobile technology, analytics and embedded devices to change customer engagement, radically alter internal operations and adopt different business models. The need for recognizing this is down to the leadership drive and recognition of the considerable changes already under-way affecting all business activities.
The CEO really does need to exercise their leadership if they see a radical transformation as necessary as they will face obstacles all the way. This will call for strong transformational management intensity which is hard to sustain without outside help and expertise as many close to the top will be themselves dramatically impacted.
There are really important times for that need of external help
I am beginning to see one external consulting company make an impact as they have re-invented themselves.
The one consulting company throwing its considerable hat into the digital transformation ring is Capgemini Consulting and well worth exploring how they are setting about this. They argue digital change is with us all in business but to bring about the changes they are suggesting you have three change ‘intensity’ points that need addressing to bring you to a realization that something radical has to replace the existing.
These intensity points for necessary change are based on being open and honest about your abilities to manage the transformation taking place within your business sector, as going ‘digital’ is equally needing to be worked through across all business sectors. There is a need for a more cohesive set of solutions to this.
Capgemini outline here their thinking in this short video clip of digital transformation and where they can help support this. I think it provides a useful understanding.
They argue that being absolutely clear on the transformation, having a well thought-through roadmap towards this transformation is essential and this is being driven by three drivers of change as the need:
1) Understanding, really understanding the customer experiences going on and what is needed,
2) The level of internal transformation that needs to really take place and
3) The extent of the business model changes you must make.
The key question is “how do you want to use technology to transform yourself?” Then it is driving the answers to the new business outcomes you decided were needed. To make this ‘transformational’ these will not be less than approaching this with a highly radical solution that evolves the learning, step by learning step.
A recent set of reports from Capgemini discusses much of this digital transformation need and their approach to this
Some of the critical steps suggested by Capgemini I thought I’d summarize here:
- Capgemini talk about your ability to “absorb” and “adapt” and these come by putting in place a strong transformation management set of capabilities, that align the digital efforts under a common vision and coordination structure and set about engaging the organization in making this a reality.
- This ‘transforming’ approach needs a clear vision to frame the journey and result in people’s minds of how the organization will be different in the future and why that is seen to be important. This vision also helps people to understand what former assumptions may no longer be valid.
- The value of ensuring clear digital governance is in place is equally essential to deploy effective investment rules and make sure there is effective coordination mechanisms to keep the transformation moving in the right direction.
- Getting that essential engagement in this vision and fostering a culture of change is never easy in any transformation story but this must be one shared to give the vision the reality it needs. The level of re-defining, challenging existing practices, especially in IT related ones are significant.
- There is a need to structure a new collaborative balance between the CIO and business executives. This is where the CEO needs to work hard to achieve this new set of working relationships at the top, where nearly all will be caught up in these changes.
- To begin this transformation Capgemini argue that you must put the organization into motion as early as you can. To have in place a wide array of digital channels for continuous two-way communication channels between the leadership wanting to enact change and the organization. This can include broadcast, web, video and social networks to break down the hierarchy and ensure the correct message is going out not sabotaged by ‘vested interests’.
- The organization needs to encourage, explore and identify changing practices and what these opportunities can bring in faster response times, greater understanding of value recognition by customers and the opportunities to deliver innovation that matches the expectations or unmet needs discovered.
- Clearly anything transformational has many aspects to consider but you need to be absolutely certain you have the right skills available, bridge the gaps and coach existing personnel in exploring and experimenting on the different digital channels to gain experience and growing insights. All these can be in rapid sprints iterate and improve with the learning from these being open and honest.
None of this will be easy but the CEO today is recognizing he has to rip up the existing structures, rid himself of the legacies of the 20th century and define a new set of business models, those built far more on agility and responsiveness and finally, focus the innovation capacity in highly focused, intense ways to ‘absorb and adapt’ quicker than the competitors.
Capgemini is shaking a few trees and will be interesting to watch for digital solutions.
For me, we are seeing Capgemini embracing digital transformation in far more open ways as consultants, in their thought leadership pieces, their clarity on their site and their own focused view of their own future, channelling their growing expertise on where they core business lies. They themselves are perhaps living at the edge of discovery.
I sense they are ‘walking the talk’ themselves and presently very focused, moving away and gaining clear distance from many existing consulting firms, still intent on adding more one stop capability just when the business world needs intensive focus on tough issues, and digital is certainly one of those.
Innovation and technology need to combine more, digital transformation will matter in this for sure. This is a space that is transforming before our very eyes the shapes of the future organizations to adapt around new challenges that technology is bringing into the business value generating equation that drives innovation and the growth.