BY Michael O'Carrol 4 MINUTE READ

To compete in the digital world, large organisations need to review their digital transformation commitment, become more agile and get change ready. Agility and acceptance of perpetual change are the key to unlocking the next wave of opportunity.

One can’t significantly alter what an organisation does, without becoming more nimble and exploring new roads. For enterprise, this means starting with a baseline end-to-end cloud transformation programme for all core business systems (ERP, CRM, productivity or Human Capital Management). Cloud of everything, brings mobility and enables the start of a data-led organisation. Even though it’s a mammoth undertaking for enterprise, cloud transformation is only a license to operate in a digital world, but it’s a good start.
Enterprise executives then need to take a digital reality check, on their ability to truly understand, accept and compete in a digital world. Honest enterprise digital self awareness will highlight shortcomings for future growth and will warrant support for a more radical interventions strategy – a strategy that extends well beyond the traditional business model and even challenges the overarching business purpose set by the current leadership.

In other words, we are talking about a kickstarter intervention programme to accelerate and explore new avenues of growth and business strategy, way beyond the current model. This is no small feat but, required to truly step forward and lead in a digital world. Such a strategy has little value without execution and won’t move forward unless it is backed by the right team, which excludes the current champions of the old business model. The team with the right combination of ideas and skills (digital, creative, strategy, change-ready, and experimental) will carry this unique strategy all the way through the current board and onto execution.

At the centre of any strategy is the organisation’s vision, which traditionally aims for new growth and increased customer value. Although correct, this approach is fundamentally not good enough anymore. A digital world is led by data and algorithms and this should be an enabler to growing new margins and improving customer experience. A retailer, for example, may shift from becoming the biggest retailer to rather a leading data-led distribution organisation, which in turn will lead to increased growth and finding new value for customers. This would shift the dial to a new way of selling products on shelves and would demand the best enterprise cloud data storage, analysis and machine learning APIs, for example Google Cloud Platform.

For traditional enterprise, strategic change of this magnitude doesn’t happen easily and won’t move forward if the team and strategy are hamstrung in mainstream business. They need to be protected, well-funded and be led by a full time executive sponsor that’s deeply involved in the exploration of the new strategy and core projects.

The only way to achieve this is by having direct access and full support from the CEO and COO – empowering and approving the strategic exploration beyond business as usual. Prioritised interventions programmes also can’t only focus on new technology, but need to explore new operating models, alliances, talent practices, training programmes, external marketing, new products/services, and alternative customer experience initiatives.

Data capture, storage and analysis on Cloud also needs to become a core competency for staff – a core skill required for employment. This extends well beyond basic pivot tables and now includes more advanced prediction and machine learning skills.

A new type of culture and leadership will help realise a vision of becoming the leading data business – leaders that are digital savvy who embrace Cloud in everything they do. Mobilising such a force of future digital leaders requires ongoing training – a digital masterclass, together with agile project management. Put differently, we need talent programmes pushing future leaders to research and exploring the possible enterprise opportunities with new tech and emerging startups.

The business value of artificial intelligence or IoT, for example, may not seem that obvious at first, but digital leaders still need to spend time exploring possible applications. Once key change leaders are identified, hang onto them and retain them at all costs. If they are any good, then they probably don’t fit into the current business model and tend to challenge the status quo.

Enterprise needs these people to help build a culture of staff asking, “what if we did something completely new? What if a telecommunications organisation became a retail bank? Why not?” It is possible, seeing that we already use their data for mobile banking applications. We need teams that allow themselves to explore what is possible, looking beyond the probability of failure. Believing it’s possible, is the first step to changing direction.

Telling the story and showing the market is critical to transitioning the internal and external perception of the brand. Enterprise can’t rely on internal marketing and communications teams to significantly shift the dial around a strategic interventions programme. A tier one creative marketing agency needs to be engaged. People, staff and customers will see and feel the change and expect new value and transformation to follow.

Enterprises cannot be mislead into believing that they are doing enough in a digital world. Launching an enterprise app is merely window dressing. Enterprises need to get real about how digital transformation and data will lead their future business model. The first step is having enterprise digital self-awareness and acceptance. The future of business will be controlled by those that understand how to store, manipulate and derive new intelligence from structured and unstructured data – the growing power of the algorithm.