The Dynamic Enterprise: What Comes After Digital Transformation?
Digital transformation is dead. It’s not for lack of trying. Over the past decade, businesses have invested considerable time and resources into pursuing big transformation initiatives. While many may claim success, they’d be hard-pressed to tell you what the last stop on their journey looks like. That’s likely because digital transformation never quite lived up to the hype and shifting market demands.
After Covid-19, digital transformation continues to be a siren call to legacy businesses looking to play catch-up. The dirty secret is that digital transformation still won’t get the job done. That’s because digital transformation only evolves how an organization works from its current state to a single new target state. For example, going from ordering food delivery by phone to an app or moving from call center customer support to chatbot enabled online self-service. Digital transformation solves a specific point-in-time problem.
If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that we live in an unpredictable world with rapidly changing problems. Organizations that focus on individual transformations will continually find themselves falling behind. Making a single pivot can’t ensure future relevance when what you’re transforming for can become obsolete by the time you reach the destination.
Instead, every business must become a dynamic enterprise — an organization that can quickly respond to changes in technology and consumer expectations through a series of daily micro-pivots. Shifting an organization’s ways of working to be dynamic lessens disruption, enables resilience, and leverages process and culture to empower rapid adaptation. Being dynamic means that an organization is always ready for the next new challenge.
The Foundation Of The Dynamic Enterprise Model
To start becoming a more agile, flexible business, you must first understand the key layers of an organization and how they contribute, or not, to dynamism:
Enterprise systems of record: This includes the foundational systems and processes that are the stable representation of a business’s foundational behaviors. The organizational elements that exist at this level change slowly. Organizations are working to modernize and evolve these systems, but they typically aren’t where dynamism is applied; longer-term strategic decisions are more often employed with these systems of record.
Channels of engagement: These are all the different methods of delivering products and services and interacting with customers, partners, employees, and other key stakeholder groups that encompass all digital touch points, including IoT, telematics, PoS, API, and digital customer experiences. This is where the biggest changes happen most quickly.
Middle platforms: The middle platforms fill the gap in between the stable systems and processes of enterprise systems of record and the constantly evolving channels of engagement. Organizations must be intentional about the technologies, modern delivery patterns, processes and practices in the middle platforms space to create the capabilities and behaviors that enable dynamism.
Each of these layers has a key role to play in optimizing the life cycle of innovation enterprises must adopt to become dynamic. The life cycle framework focuses on technology and cultural transformations in four different stages: Innovation means intentionally testing new methods to successfully engage target audiences. Emergence is how innovations are proven to be successful. Standardization is when innovations are purposefully incorporated and leveraged across the enterprise. And deprecation is the deliberate sunsetting of technologies and processes when they become irrelevant so businesses can focus energy and resources on what’s driving the most value.
What Dynamism Looks Like In Today’s Market
The power of adaptability has never been more evident than during the Covid-19 pandemic. Consider, for example, the strategic moves made by these companies (full disclosure: Disney, DSW and Cigna are PK clients):
Disney: When faced with the indefinite closure of movie theaters nationwide, Disney immediately began shifting its resources to focus on its Disney+ streaming service. It moved some of its theatrical releases to the streaming platform and announced a multitude of new shows and programs that would publish exclusively on Disney+. Doing so empowered the company to make a relatively quick change from a distribution model to a direct-to-consumer model, growing its Disney+ subscribership to 86.8 million in the process.
DSW: After many of its shops nationwide temporarily shuttered under quarantine restrictions, DSW found a novel way to continue selling its shoes in a retail setting: The company partnered with Hy-Vee grocery stories to open mini-shops inside six of the grocery store’s Minneapolis locations. The collaboration is a win-win: DSW gained access to a new set of customers shopping at an essential business, and Hy-Vee enhanced its customer experience. And both can cross-market to the other’s customers.
Cigna: The pandemic put unprecedented strain on the U.S. healthcare system. To help ease the burden and enable better remote care, health insurance provider Cigna partnered with Buoy Health to offer its members a digital symptom checker that triages Covid-19 symptoms and provides care recommendations. This empowered Cigna to better support its members during a time when they may be too scared or unable to visit their provider’s office (due to quarantine shutdowns) while ensuring that every member received the appropriate level of care. As of November 2020, more than 140,000 members had completed Covid-19 assessments on the platform.
By building in the technology, capabilities and strategic approach needed to be dynamic, each of these organizations was able to rapidly evolve to meet the challenges of tumultuous market conditions and better position itself for success.
Successful companies are focused on enabling great experiences. Great experiences are achieved through exploration and evolution. Becoming great at sensing and responding, as Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden refer to it, requires cultural, organizational, perspective, technical and process considerations. The art is in how you change your operating model without disrupting your organization.
Over the course of the next few months, I’ll examine these ideas in depth in our ongoing Dynamic Enterprise series. Check back here on Forbes to learn more about how your organization can unlock the capabilities needed to make continuous transformation a critical part of its DNA.
This article originally appeared on forbes.com, to read the full article and see the images, click here.
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