In today’s disruptive digital economy, the pace of change is at its peak and it has only just taken off. It has fundamentally transformed the business landscape with many corporations unable to keep up. Research suggests 40 percent of today's S&P500 companies will no longer exist in less than 10 years. Companies need a game-changing adaptation to a business model that continuously reinvents itself, leveraging technology and innovation, not just to thrive but also to survive. In times to come, continuous reinvention may be the only differentiator between the disruptors and the disrupted, for an organization must not be seen as a static; instead a living, breathing being that needs to adapt continuously to survive the black hole of irrelevance.
"Disruptive digital technologies have created a launch pad for innovation not only for new business models but also for product and service lines"
Retailers with foresight are shedding behind their legacy business models to also become technology companies, and promoting innovation by imbibing startup culture. They are turning to low-cost mechanisms to accelerate digital innovation by leveraging hackathons, internally funded incubators, and digital labs. To stay at the forefront of their industry, companies must reinvent themselves with digital transformation by leveraging disruptive technologies to pave the path for innovative business models. They must not stop there and go a step further—implement a thought-out and deliberate business strategy of continuous reinvention so the tsunami of change only strengthens the company’s market position, and not perish it.
The Confluence of Cloud Computing, Analytics, Social, Business and Mobile
Although many retailers have attempted digital transformation initiatives, only a few have had desired outcomes. There are several reasons for failures including lack of talent, or clearly defined vision, or lapse in execution but the one that is overwhelming common in majority of failures is the organizational change management. Persuading peers and partners to come aboard the digital journey often meets skepticism, insecurities and resistance from various parts of the organization. The legacy mindset still prevails in different corners of organizations preventing effective implementation of digital transformation initiatives. This underlying challenge of legacy mindset within organizations needs to evolve to the digital mindset fueled by design-centric culture and must become one of the top priorities for retail CXOs.
The transformation of the legacy to digital mindset within the enterprise is essential for successful digital transformation–the first step towards building the culture for continuous reinvention. The table above represents what I like to call as the fellowship of digital mindset.
Fellowship of Digital Mindset
1. Business Game Changer
In this digital-first world, it is essential for the top leadership to change the way technology is perceived within the organization. Successful and progressive companies are leveraging technology to reinvent themselves and innovate new business models. Technology has the potential to be the game changer for retailers. CEOs of progressive companies worldwide recognize, now more than ever before, that technology is at the right and center of their organizational growth strategy.
2. Innovation as Strategic Priority
Disruptive digital technologies have created a launch pad for innovation not only for new business models but also for product and service lines. Principles of design thinking such as experimentations in innovation labs, modeling and prototyping, failing cheap and failing fast, should become the way forward and be integrated into the innovation fabric of the organization. A large UK Retailer has successfully rolled out several business disruptive initiatives with the startup incubator lab they launched 3 years back. Starting off with an offsite innovation day, they evolved into setting up the first of its kind lab thereby opening doors to startups that could submit their proposals, with consumers at the core of each idea, and engage in a 12-15 week proof of concept to provide strategic advantage to the retailer. Several large US companies are launching similar technology incubator programs to leverage startups for both disruptive and incremental innovation.
3. Flexible Architecture & Designing for the Unknown
The digital revolution has already broken technology architectures for most of the established enterprises prohibiting them to stay competitive without re-architecting first. Mere digitizing business by using bolt-on approach backfires more often than not as evidenced by the poor shopper satisfaction from mobile or sometimes even online experience. It is imperative, therefore, for organizations to create a long-term vision and future state technology architecture that enables real time ecosystem and is designed for the unknown.
As stated in the table, the future state technology architecture shouldn’t have the shackles of legacy, monolithic, and batch-oriented technologies. Instead, it should embrace open source and cloud, real time and digital architectures.
4. The Digital Delivery Model
The “but we've always done it this way” mentality has no place in today's digital-first world, when the old ways can be dramatically improved through streamlining, automation and technology to increase time to market, performance and agility while decreasing costs. Adopting DevOps and agile delivery model wherever adequate becomes essential for the forward-looking enterprises while keeping digital transformation efforts on track with clearly defined milestones and goals. Furthermore, senior leaders of the organization should champion the transformational initiatives and ensure alignment and active participation from the business units. The transformation of delivery model requires full sponsorship and commitment from the top leadership.
5. Promoting Talent Development
The future of a digital enterprise that disrupts itself time and again depends on its talent. Employing engineering disciplines and agile development practices enables growth for employees in disruptive technologies. Creating a workforce that can take an organization through continuous reinvention is the ultimate goal but first the continuous self-learning culture must be evangelized and fostered. For example, Innovation labs offer excellent skill development opportunity with experimentation on disruptive technologies to solve business problems and innovate new business models.
6. The Co-Innovation Ecosystem
There is no need to attempt digital transformation alone today. Technology vendors and non-technology players have formed open, independent ecosystems to produce solutions that simplify emerging trends for first-mover organizations. Time to market is everything, and having a leg up by partnering with startups and partner ecosystems can significantly provide competitive advantage. Organizations should avoid reinventing the wheel by leveraging partner ecosystems.
These imperatives are mere representations of the digital mindset in the new-age companies. Just as the enterprise, leaders also need to continuously adapt, evolve and reinvent themselves. The cultural transformation required for digital mindset is crucial to successfully manage change at such large scale within an organization. Efforts to transform mindset however shouldn’t be restricted to parts of an enterprise; it needs to become the default across the organization. For instance, operations can benefit from innovation just as new development or transformational initiatives. Those that transform themselves from legacy to digital mindset and continuously reinvent will be the disruptors.