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Accelerating digital transf...

Posted 6 months ago By Johannah Lynch


The Situation

Both B2B and B2C firms are rapidly and necessarily shifting emphasis to digital channels to meet demand for online products and services.  It is expected these changes in buyer behaviour will last beyond the immediate pandemic, which in turn has accelerated digital transformation and adoption.

Meanwhile, out of sheer necessity, employees are working remotely, utilising existing or rapidly-deployed collaboration and communication tools to operate effectively. New management and leadership skills are being learned on the go and the pressures of sustained remote working are emerging over time.

The Challenge

Digital capability is now firmly on the strategic agenda.  Leadership teams need to re-evaluate their strategic goals in the context of the new environment and weave their digital capability requirements into their short-and medium-term plans.

The Key Questions

  • How do I assess my digital requirements?
  • What if this happens again?
  • How do I prioritise and act quickly to remain competitive?

The Solution

Put Digital Transformation firmly on the strategic agenda.

This is best looked at from an external (client/channel) and internal (employee) perspective:

Client/Channel:

  • Some sectors and businesses have thrived from their inherent business models, particularly those with D2C and modern e-commerce distribution channels. Some have suffered from sheer bad luck in the nature of their product, while others have lacked digital maturity in both technical architecture/infrastructure and digital mindset and capability
  • A review of the digital requirements of distribution channels, products and services is necessary to ensure that next time this happens companies are prepared and have - given the unknown timeline for the return to ‘normality’ - the flexibility and agility to deal fluidly with the uncertain development of medium-term customer needs

Employee: 

  • Video conferencing and the use of collaboration tools is now commonplace with individuals, teams and enterprises interacting routinely in this way. This skill-set was previously the preserve of Agile developers, global team leaders and independent consultants – now everyone needs to know how to communicate and ‘be’, remotely and on screen
  • To avoid spiralling licence costs, rapid review of collaboration tool vendors is a short-term necessity, re-defining requirements to suit employees’ medium-term needs. As digital adoption drives deeper into organisations, overcomplicated technical architectures must be avoided and company IP must be protected

With the possibility of further lockdowns and the ‘new’ reality of pandemic threats,companies must address head on a review of digital mindset/capability, organisational structures and technical architecture (and infrastructure) to enable them to respond rather than react to future challenges.

Put Digital Transformation firmly on the strategic agenda.

Leadership teams need to take a step back and reconsider their strategic intent:

  • The business they are in
  • Their company’s purpose
  • The new competitive landscape
  • The direction of travel
  • The outcomes they wish to achieve

For any significant changes in direction, intent and outcome, these need to be accommodated in the:

  • Specific business goals
  • Products and services required to serve these goals
  • Target Operating Model (which will include organisation design and technical architecture)
  • Capabilities needed to deliver against the goals
  • Investments to be stopped and investments to be made

This is not a case of re-writing the business plan, but weaving in and prioritising specific digital requirements in the context of the short- and medium-term environments we expect to encounter.

If that means taking smaller steps and holding off on investment decisions due to market uncertainty, then so be it - but plan for various outcomes and be ready to move at speed when things change.

Any changes to Products, Target Operating Model and Capabilities must embrace digital necessities. As such, companies need to ask themselves:

  • Do we have the digital skills and capabilities (people and infrastructure) within our organisation?
  • If we do, are we prioritising and investing accordingly?
  • If we don’t, what do we need and where do we find it?​

About the study: 

Our insight is based on The Barton Partnership’s qualitative research from more than 160 clients, supported by a quantitative cross-industry survey by Aneil Rakity and Tal Potishman of 260 global senior business executives conducted during April and May 2020.

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