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June 24, 2016
Being digital: The ‘no-regrets’ route
By: Narry Singh

Despite obvious gains, many Senior Executives are legitimately wary of moving towards digital. Assuaging those doubts, and pursuing ‘no-regrets’ capabilities, is key for organisations hoping to lead in their industries.

Whether due to inflexible IT systems, baffling jargon, or unclear profit strategies, executives are concerned about going digital. But – with clear evidence of success from companies who are making the most of digital – Accenture Strategy research indicates that creating new digital capabilities ranks as a top priority for executives. That tension between doubt and opportunity can be eased by identifying and developing digital capabilities pragmatically. Companies must define the rules of digital to their advantage, and prepare for change in whatever form it takes. In other words, they must pursue solutions which carry ‘no-regrets’:

  1. Sense and respond to change

  2. Organisations must be dynamic in the face of change. Seeing change coming is part of that, but more crucial still is understanding what it will mean for the business and when it will impact. Accenture Strategy research – consisting of interviews with 700 business leaders from around the world, as well as 2500 European employees – found that half of all business leaders anticipated changes to their competitors’ business models. To ensure those changes aren’t a threat, companies must be highly sensitive to disruption and must discern between passing trends and genuine culture shifts. Building a strategic ecosystem – with the venture community, start-ups and tech providers – is an effective way of doing that.

  3. Learn to experiment and disrupt

  4. 79% of business leaders identified innovation as a key benefit of digital. Innovation comes, more often than not, from disruption that aims to solve specific customer problems. Solving those problems requires two processes: experimentation, and a commitment to self-disruption. Digital can help on both fronts. Imagine a telecoms provider, for instance, aiming to solve the problem of best pricing plans. With digital, they could test thousands of combinations simultaneously, finding the best option rapidly.

  5. Fully understand and leverage data

  6. Successful businesses must learn to exploit their data. Over a third of executives surveyed are already using strategies to monetise their data. Walmart, a huge industry leader, have launched a smart search engine which anticipates the intent of a shopper’s search to give them relevant results. The move has increased the amount of shoppers completing a purchase by 10-15%.

  7. Build a digital quotient

  8. If organisations are to adopt digital technologies they must ensure that their teams, and in particular senior members, are digitally competent. There are a number of ways of doing so – from pairing senior leadership with younger, digital high flyers, to acquiring tech start-ups who bring with them the relevant skills.

  9. Partner and invest for non-core activities

  10. Creating an ecosystem of partners is crucial for managing effective digital progress. Whether they’re looking elsewhere for APIs or corporate development, 78% of research respondents believe that partnerships and alliances will be crucial to boosting digital growth.

  11. Organise for Speed

  12. Most organisations are designed to withstand change, which has many uses, but holds back digital innovation. Companies must attain CEO-level support for agile change, and create a dedicated central team to drive digital growth. Another effective strategy is to create roles for independent, capable ‘fixers’ – such as Chief Digital Officers – to ease the transition.

  13. Design a smooth customer journey

  14. In the age of seamless apps and incredible functionality, organisations must compete with the best in order to deliver the customer experiences that are expected. mBank, for example, looked not to industry competitors when launching its mobile banking app. Instead they considered what a modern mobile service looked like and worked from there. Becoming a digital leader can cause growing pains, but there are low-risk and no-risk options. Key considerations are: where partnerships can be advantageous, who the most digitally savvy in the organisation are, what customer expectations are, and what could hurt the business. Companies that can identify gaps, determine priorities, and act upon them are well placed to take the lead in the brave new world of digital.

Find out more in the Being Digital Seven Essential “No-Regret” Capabilities report

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