What does it
mean to be a
Living Business?

IT MEANS
YOU STAY
RELEVANT

RELEVANCY:
THE BEATING
HEART

OF A LIVING BUSINESS

So, how do you make your business relevant, and ensure it stays that way?

You keep it moving.

Every company today is looking to achieve sustainable growth. Having a consistent, loyal customer base is key to that sustainability, but as too many businesses have discovered, the days of traditional customer loyalty are a thing of the past and the roles are now reversed. Today, businesses must constantly adapt their products, services, and marketing strategy in order to compete and remain relevant to the consumer.

$1Tn

Potential revenue lost to competitors in 2017 through companies not being relevant enough, in the United States alone

1 OUT OF 4

Customers say they would simply stop doing business with a company that isn’t relevant

of customers say they would switch from one brand to another due to a lack of relevance

Likelihood that companies perceived as relevant by their customers will be recommended to friends and family

A NEED FOR CONSTANT

EVOLUTION

To satisfy today’s customers, companies must now keep adapting, redefining their products and services. They must forecast trends for tomorrow, so that their business growth strategies will help build customer loyalty. The goal? To become a fluid, agile organization that:

Leverages smart, connected data

Embraces new ideas, behaviors and technologies

Makes confident
decisions at speed
and at scale

By constantly evolving to meet customer demands, companies become hyper-relevant and ultimately transform themselves into Living Businesses.

Living Businesses are companies that continuously adapt around the customer, to their changing preferences and market conditions, with speed and scale. And to keep them true to this purpose, organizations need to have a strong personality, a North Star, that underpins organizational behaviors and guides them, as they evolve.

But, what does a Living Business look like?

"Successful companies today realize that customer expectations are shaped by the most relevant, real time, dynamic experiences they encounter across any, and all, industries. These companies have realized that to be relevant, they must build vitality into all they do. They know it’s not about customer loyalty any longer, it’s about company loyalty to customers."

Omar Abbosh, Group Chief Executive – Communications, Media and Technology

PATHWAYS TO BECOMING A LIVING BUSINESS

Most companies are feeling intense pressure to become and stay relevant. According to Accenture research, the difference between the high performers and the other companies is telling:

of high performers believe that their business needs a "much more iterative, dynamic, agile approach to doing business, compared to three years ago."

of high performers agreed that "business reinvention is required to be successful in today's context." Among lower performing organizations, 67% agreed.

High performers were unsurprisingly far more adept than others at bridging the gap between their knowledge of what is needed to succeed and doing what it takes. The knowledge-achievement gap among other companies was up to seven times greater.

What’s more, we found that high performing organizations excelled across five sets of capabilities, to become Living Businesses. These companies have the ability to continuously:

Target
New Opportunities

Target core and disruptive growth initiatives to fuel responsive innovation.

 

Design
for Customers

Design products and services as hyper-relevant platforms.

 

Build
Engagement

Build intelligent marketing and sales experiences.

Scale
with Partners

Scale with a broad and new set of ecosystem alliances.


 

Rewire
Culture

Rewire your workforce with a customer-first mindset.

 

Our research finds that the companies that excel at these five capabilities are three times more likely to achieve above average revenue and profit growth. They are also 50% more likely to weather business cycles and disruption in their industries.

NO TIME TO
WASTE

A track record of sustained success is no longer a reliable predictor of future growth, or even survival. 52% of the companies that were included in the Fortune 500 in the year 2000 no longer exist.

That’s why Living Businesses are focused on creating new advantages before their current strengths fade. The contrast between their continuously highly relevant offerings, and those of companies hanging onto outdated “best practices,” will be stark. And, we are seeing that today’s consumers choose relevance every time.

FORTUNE 500 COMPANIES IN Y2000 NO LONGER EXIST

ABOUT THE
RESEARCH

To identify a clear path towards sustainable growth for today’s large organizations, we undertook a major research initiative to determine why Living Businesses consistently outperform their peers across all capabilities.

1000+

Executives surveyed across 10 industries

28 COUNTRIES

were included in our survey to understand how the changing digital needs of customers are impacting how businesses deliver better outcomes.

GET THE
ESSENTIALS

Why becoming a Living Business is critical to achieving sustainable business growth.

Full Research Report

Dig into the research to find out what it takes to be a Living Business.

Research
Summary

Read this summary for selected highlights.

5 MINUTE READ

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TARGET NEW
OPPORTUNITIES

In Brief

 

Businesses should target new value and business models by rethinking investments based on a better understanding of their customers’ digital needs.

 

93% of high performers think that finding new value and driving business models will be critical in the next three years.

 

Businesses must ask, “What is it about our company that makes us relevant to customers now?”

Target Core and Disruptive Growth Initiatives to Fuel Responsive Innovation

At its core, targeting is about identifying and selecting disruptive business models, so you can recalibrate your business strategy and recognize new business opportunities. Thinking about relevance first when considering your brand’s identity will help you discover which disruptive pathways are worth pursuing. It will also help you and your decision makers in balancing core, as well as disruptive growth. Doing this enables your organization to think more broadly about your business portfolio and about ways to generate more capital.

Living Businesses know how to adapt around their customers, embracing a customer-centric mindset that inspires different behaviors and ways of working.


of high performers excel at “funding new growth initiatives by optimizing costs elsewhere”, compared with 62% of other companies surveyed.

Living Proof: mBank

mBank, based in Poland, provides a good example with its “mPower Business Starter,” a digital service model developed to simplify the process of launching a business.

Traditionally, setting up a fully operating company in Poland takes between 10 and 30 days, and requires several separate interactions with a bank and the government.

Now, using the Business Starter, it takes about 10 minutes and occurs in a single interaction with the bank.

The bank works in cooperation with the Polish Ministry of Digital Affairs and Ministry of Economic Development, and integrates government, bank, and accounting services (through its own mAccounting offering).

And, customers can create a digital signature, open a business account, and register their new company in one, efficient transaction—filling out a fraction of the forms and fields they would have previously.

In the next two years, mBank expects 15% of companies entering the Polish market to use the mPower Business Starter.

To fully develop this capability, businesses must ask, “What is it about our company that makes us relevant to customers now?” Not only will it allow you to develop a robust targeting strategy, you’ll benefit from having a clear goal in sight, with the peripheral vision to see other opportunities.

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DESIGN FOR
CUSTOMERS

In Brief

 

94% of high performers believe relevant, innovative design is crucial to business success, compared to 68% of all respondents.

 

Living Businesses know that the decisions they make when going to market are dependent on their ability to meet evolving customer expectations.

 

The win lies in finding the right balance, by designing and delivering products and services that respond in real time to customers’ evolving needs.

Design Products and Services as Hyper-Relevant Platforms

As a business, look at your products, services, and experiences through the lens of your customer, and then design accordingly. Should your product development focus on bringing flashy and alluring products to market? Or, do you instead develop products that are staid, but practical?

Living Businesses know that when bringing a product to market, it’s not so black and white—there are always situations that will influence their strategy. They know how to identify evolving customer expectations. They know when to act on insights derived from rich consumer data, to develop compelling new experiences based on consumer behavior. And, they know success comes from finding the right balance, and ways to deliver outcomes in real time based on actual customer needs.

When you prioritize design to meet evolving customer needs, you reap the benefits of becoming a continuously innovative and relevant organization that stays in step with consumers—and a step ahead of the competition.

Among high performers:

were more likely to have grown through innovation in areas beyond their core business.

are planning to invest more in growing through areas beyond their core business in the coming three years, compared with just 58% of all other respondents.

Living Proof: Achmea Holding N.V.

Dutch insurer, Achmea Holding N.V., is targeting an underserved market segment—low-income households—by offering a product explicitly designed for them, to provide safety and improve their neighborhoods, by preventing or reducing damage from fires and burglaries.

Specifically, Achmea has developed and piloted a peer-to-peer alarm platform that makes it easier for neighbors, friends and family members to find out when there is a potential problem near them, reach one another, and help each other out. The platform works by connecting a variety of home security solutions, including Chuango, to messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

With initial, positive results (in declining claims from those participating, and from social housing corporations in the target area), Achmea is now planning to scale this to more households within the next several years.

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BUILD
ENGAGEMENT

In Brief

 

Companies that leverage operating models, open innovation, and agile technology to deliver personalized digital experiences can rapidly scale new growth initiatives.

 

Is optimizing operations for dynamic execution across channels critical? An enormous 93% of high performers say yes, compared to 67% of all others.

 

Living Businesses excel in this capability, as they’re well equipped to capture relevant opportunities before they’re lost.

Build Intelligent Marketing
and Sales Experiences

This transformational capability set focuses on using your company’s operating model to test, build, and scale physical and digital experiences that are focused on customer personalization. It prioritizes engagement channels as the greatest possible competitive advantage—for both customer and company.

Living Businesses are laser focused on outcomes in this area, so they tend to excel.

The result? Continuous improvement of their business strategies, and the ability to pivot and focus on creativity and innovation in new endeavors, before a newer, more relevant opportunity extinguishes.

of high performers report excelling beyond their peers at optimizing operations to make products and services more relevant to customers. Only 62% of the others could say the same.

Living Proof: Toyota Motor Sales

Consider Toyota Motor Sales in the United States.

The company’s Customer 360 Insights team uses Apache Spark, a distributed computing framework that allows it to mine and analyze streams of social media interactions for the customer feedback that matters most.

Toyota’s analytics, for example, transcend simple classifiers such as “brake noise.” Instead, the company has experimented with different types of word-recognition analyses that consider related symptoms people may be discussing at the same time.

This approach helps the car maker offer customers the most relevant advice, as well as identify larger trends that may have safety implications or contribute to new designs.

With this approach, Toyota has reduced the time spent analyzing customer feedback from more than six days to just four hours.

As the company adds greater sensing functionality to its cars, it will be able to further enhance its ability to partner with individual drivers.

Toyota exemplifies how a Living Business builds out relevant experiences at scale. By so doing, your organization is building a foundation for success that will propel you towards the next audience capturing opportunity.

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SCALE
WITH
PARTNERS

In Brief

 

The key to scaling successfully is collaboration with strategic thinking alliance partners, beyond traditional industry boundaries.

 

Living Businesses participate in an ecosystem of strategic partnerships, ensuring that customer data moves fast, seamlessly, and accurately.

 

Who are the high performers in scaling new partnerships? Transportation and consumer goods companies are the strongest performers.

Scale with a Broad and New Set of Ecosystem Alliances

Living Businesses are adept at considering the power of strategic partnerships and strategic planning, which enable efficiencies, new thinking, and ultimately, more innovation. They collaborate with strategic partners and forge alliances with forward thinkers, often beyond their traditional industry boundaries.

What results is a new way of scaling a business, a platform to share data purposefully and efficiently with an ecosystem of alliance partners, and the basis of a thriving business ecology that’s sure to reward organizations with continuous relevance in the consumer’s mind.

Living Businesses are recognizing the opportunity to collaborate with those around them, to create hyper-personalized experiences for customers.

As a Living Business, you will be rewarded with the benefits of strategic partnerships, and the hyper-relevancy that keeps you front of mind for consumers.



of high performers agree that scaling new partnerships is highly important to business success, compared to 66% of all other respondents.



of high performers report excelling beyond their peers when it comes to “collaborating with partners beyond traditional industry boundaries”. Only 61% of other respondents said the same.



of high performers have engaged with a new type of alliance partner since 2017. Compare that to less performing companies—at just 13%.

Living Proof: Nike

Nike leads at using cutting-edge technologies to enhance customer experiences, by linking their partners to their own operations.

Specifically, the company is increasingly using apps such as NikePlus, Nike Run Club, and Nike Training Club, to extend relevant offers to users that stem not only from Nike, but also from an increasing array of external Nike partners.

These actions, in turn, unlock new customer data while advancing the Nike brand.

Nike has also united several previously siloed channels through which customers connect with the company.

These moves have increased its ability to gather and react to customer feedback, while providing more comprehensive and streamlined customer experiences.

"We see massive potential in a future where more Nike products are connected, bringing consumers inspirational content and serving as the onramp for Nike membership. And, you can envision where that future goes, where consumers seamlessly engage with us through digitally connected products that continue to inform our design, manufacturing and distribution capabilities, creating new growth opportunities."

MARK PARKER, Nike CEO
Source: diginomica.com

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REWIRE
CULTURE

In Brief

 

Relevance is the product of continually refining, re-skilling, and mastering the latest skills.

 

The ability to rewire is a key differentiator for high performers, across 9 out of 10 industries we studied—more than any other capability set.

 

Living Businesses blend the workforce, combining human ingenuity with the power of technology to deliver a company culture of constant innovation and growth.

Rewire Your Workforce with a Customer-First Mindset

Rewiring your organization can seem complex, but Living Businesses understand the return that comes from such an investment. As re-skilling and continuous learning continue to shape the workforce, companies must act proactively, rather than reactively, when it comes to being relevant.

Living Businesses know that relevance requires an organizational culture that values consistent, rapid mastery of new skills and technologies. Those that succeed strive to combine human ingenuity with artificial intelligence, leveraging man-machine collaboration to tackle obstacles in a workforce that excels at learning and adapting.

Rewiring requires new skill development, re-skilling and a company culture that isn’t afraid of reinventing its business model.

of high performers say rewiring is highly important to business success, compared to 66% of all other respondents.

of high performers report excelling beyond their peer set when it comes to adjusting their organization’s structure in ways that benefit the customer. Only 64% of other companies can say the same.

Living Proof: GE Global Research

GE Global Research is investing in training scientists to become “dual scientists”—individuals who are not only masters in their original area of study, but also understand how to interact with AI and other machine learning systems to create additional value.

For example, dual scientists help develop cloud-hosted software models of GE machines (such as turbines, aircraft engines and locomotives), that can help the company improve customer safety levels, as well as cut costs.

These models called “digital twins”,” help anticipate a specific machine’s service needs and tailor its maintenance schedule, and by doing so, help customers get the most out of their investments.

The company reported that a locomotive digital twin resulted in a 32,000-gallon reduction in annual fuel consumption and a concurrent reduction in carbon emissions of 174,000 tons.

By July 2017, 400 employees had received certification in data analysis and about 50 scientists had shifted jobs accordingly. Meanwhile, GE created 100 new jobs related to AI and robotics in 2016.

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS

JOHN ZEALLEY
JOHN ZEALLEY

Senior Managing Director - Customers & Channels Function, Consumer Goods & Services Industry

GLEN HARTMAN
GLEN HARTMAN

Senior Managing Director - Lead for Accenture Interactive North America & Global Digital Marketing

MARK CURTIS
MARK CURTIS

Chief Client Officer - Fjord (Accenture Interactive)

NIKKI MENDONÇA
NIKKI MENDONÇA

Global President - Accenture Interactive Operations

JOSHUA BELLIN
JOSHUA
BELLIN

Senior Principal - Accenture Research

OLIVIER SCHUNCK
OLIVIER
SCHUNCK

Principal Director - Accenture Strategy

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