The accelerated migration to digital technologies – which was driven by the pandemic – continues in the recovery phase and will continue to do so. Throughout this guide, let’s see how to accelerate the use of digital resources in your company and keep up with the pace of the new reality.
Until today, most entrepreneurs have sought to digitize their companies in at least a part of their business or internal organizational methodologies (eg online resources for sharing files and exchanging ideas). In order to protect employees and serve customers facing mobility restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, we must address their frailties and doubts today, more than any other time, and look not only for a transition that optimizes and make operations more autonomous, but which also promotes the stability and confidence of our employees.
Intel CEO Bob Swan made it clear:
“We witnessed today what will surely be remembered as a historic migration from remote work and digital access to services across all domains.”
In fact, recent data shows that in the first few weeks of the contingency, the business world has advanced what is estimated to be five years in consumer and business digital adoption in a matter of just eight weeks. Banks have transitioned to remote sales and service work and have unleashed the full digital transition on customers for, for example, flexible payment arrangements, debt, loans and mortgages. Supermarkets have switched to online ordering and delivery as their main source of activity. Schools in many locations have taken learning 100% online, in digital classrooms. Physicians began to operate on a telemedicine basis, aided by looser regulations. Producers are actively developing plans for “off” factories (working as little as possible). The list goes on…
As some regions begin to reopen, companies are considering how to return to some kind of reality in which operations can run at full speed and in a stable environment, without bureaucratic and technical blockages and restrictions (as well as achieving full employee reintegration). To do so, we will have to face three major structural changes:
First, customer behaviors and interactions have changed significantly, and while they continue to change, the rise in use of digital services is here to stay, at least to some extent. A total of 75% of people using digital channels for the first time indicate that they intend to continue using them when the scenario returns to “normal”.
The key to success is securing equal or better digital channels than the competition in this new environment. If China offers us any lessons, it is that only those who cannot understand digital technologies will be substantially disadvantaged during the recovery phase.
Second, as the economy pulls back, the recovery in demand will be unpredictable; unevenness across geographies, industries, product categories, and customer segments; and often slow to return to pre-crisis levels. While some industries face exceptionally strong demand, executives in many industries have to contend with periods of structural overcapacity. These companies are faced with the painful need to right-size the cost base and the core of their operations, supply chains and organizations in general and aggressively transition from fixed costs to variable costs wherever possible. Further complicating the picture for us as business owners, historical data and forecasting models will be of little use in estimating where and when demand will return to normal. New data and fully rebuilt analytical models will be essential to drive operational decisions.
Finally, many companies have switched to remote work models almost overnight. Streamlining our business approach to dealing with these changes now will be critical to a successful recovery. Digital will undoubtedly play a central role. We offer suggestions for a 90-day plan to realign the digital work program and implement rapid transition techniques during recovery phases and beyond.
DIGITAL RECOVERY PROGRAM
For many companies, customers have already gone digital. Employees already work fully remotely and are agile to some extent. Companies have already rolled out analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) initiatives across their operations. But for most companies, the changes so far represent just the first phase of the changes that will be required.
We’ve created a guide here that focuses on four efforts: refocusing and accelerating digital investments in response to evolving customer needs, using new data and AI to improve business operations, modernizing technology resources. For each one, we came up with a practical 90-day plan to put it into action.
Drive Digital Efforts to Change Customer Expectations
Many companies are rapidly shifting their efforts towards digital-first models. A multi-industry chain store in Europe, for example, established a fully functional e-commerce business in just three months. The online business was interconnected across all functions (warehousing, merchandising, marketing, customer support, etc.) and improved the basket size over physical stores by three times, while also delivering an increase in revenues of almost 3% in the market in which it operates.
But it’s not just about digitization. Companies must also reimagine their customers’ adventures to reduce friction – the difficulty of adapting and the doubts that arise –, accelerate the shift to digital channels and provide new security requirements. For example, an automobile manufacturer now handles functions traditionally performed by retailers, such as trade-ins, financing, maintenance, and home delivery of cars. Airlines are rapidly reinventing the passenger experience with contactless travel with a focus on traveler health and safety to make customers feel comfortable flying again.
In the next 90 days. We should, as executives and managers, be asked to assess how the needs and behaviors of our most important customers have changed and compare digital channels with those of the competition. This information should form the basis of a renewed digital agenda, which should take no more than 30 days to establish.
Use new data and AI to improve business operations
Chief digital officers and chief information officers can manage and direct (or redirect) competent teams to execute the most pressing priorities. Changes that require more fundamental work, such as creating a new e-commerce channel, typically take longer. Continuously measuring digital channel performance over the 90 days will be critical for the company to adapt quickly as they learn more. Consider creating a weekly blog for senior business and technology executives to educate new hires and drive the entire agenda in a paced and coordinated fashion.rdenada.
We should always look to leverage new data and artificial intelligence to improve business operations.
Modern businesses have multiple forecasting and planning models to guide these operational decisions. These templates are essential. Just as many companies have had to rebuild financial and risk models that failed during the financial meltdown of 2008, the same is true in the face of a pandemic like the 2020.
As we build these models, departments competent to analyze and evaluate results will likely need to gather new databases and use improved techniques to forecast demand and successfully manage assets.
In the next 90 days. First, the chief analytics officer (or equivalent) should make an effort to inventory the key models that support business operations and work with managers to prioritize them based on main operations and their efficiency. This assessment is urgent and must be completed as soon as possible. The most advanced companies already leverage synthetic databases, using advanced machine learning techniques such as generative concurrent networks (GANs) to train new analytical models when historical data is of little use.
Use new data and AI to improve business operations
The execution of the program with guarantee of success requires investment capacity and speed in it. As managers, we can contribute by right-scaling the IT cost structure to new levels of demand and by reinvesting freed resources in customer-facing digital solutions and critical decision support systems in the first place. Companies can also dedicate part of their budget to selectively modernize technology and software development tools.
Many companies have found that they have the potential to free up to 45% of their IT costs over the course of a year. Our experience suggests that about two-thirds of this potential can be achieved through measures such as extending hardware and software upgrade cycles, quickly renegotiating vendor contracts, and restricting workloads by terminating non-critical tasks. Additional cuts deepen the cost structure and risk hurting growth. The right balance varies by industry, but in any scenario, the right scaling should expose the investment capacity needed as quickly as possible to fund the 90-day plan.
Particularly important scenario that can be implemented quickly: a cloud-based data platform and an automated software delivery pipeline (commonly referred to as “continuous integration and continuous delivery”). Without them, development speed stalls and gets bogged down in complexity. The good news is that cloud technologies make it possible to deploy them quickly and at relatively low cost.
In the next 90 days. First, we must develop a plan to scale and create a more variable cost structure – the faster the better to free up resources for the digital agenda.
In the second 30-day sprint, we choose the right partners to work on the cloud. While speed is essential, the manager must carefully consider the contractual structures offered by technology providers. Carefully review those that seem “too good for price” to ignore to ensure vendors aren’t capturing all the value. During this sprint, it’s also time to selectively modernize the technology foundations – “selectively” being the key word. Most enterprises will not have the network bandwidth and management resources to undertake a full-scale modernization in the next 12 to 18 months. Focusing on configuring or enhancing a cloud-based data platform and training teams and employees with automated software delivery.
In the final sprint, it’s a no-brainer to launch recruiting additional digital tools and accelerate the global transition internally. These steps serve to prepare the company well for a more substantive modernization of post-recovery scenarios. Finally, we must continue to pay particular attention to online security at all times.
Increase the Organizational Pace
The current crisis has forced companies to adapt quickly to new realities, opening their eyes to new paths and faster ways of working and communicating with customers, suppliers and colleagues. Many CEOs wonder what it will take to keep the organizational drumbeat going.
Companies that have led the way in adopting flatter, more automated organizational models have shown substantial improvements in both the pace of execution and productivity. It held up through the crisis, as we see a direct correlation between pre-crisis maturity and the time it took companies to launch a first crisis-related product or service. While many companies have at least some competent teams in place, few have managed to successfully scale, which is essential to drive the rapid organizational pace of the crisis.
What can realistically be done in 90 days to increase organizational momentum?
Building a digital factory is basically the best approach right now because it can be built and scaled in three months or less. Many organizations, from banks to small businesses, have accelerated and scaled their digital delivery model by establishing this internal relationship, with interdisciplinary teams aligned with the companies’ digital priorities.
As mentioned earlier, remote work can also help organizations to accelerate their processes, namely through autonomy, as companies explore new pools of manpower and specialized remote knowledge, such as outsourcing. Remote work can also open up new productivity opportunities, especially for companies with large sales teams.
In the next 90 days. During the first sprint, we identified areas of the business where digital execution speed is needed and looked to map plans for digital software to support them. At the same time, we evaluated where remote work models can generate productivity benefits. These two lenses should set the table for targeted changes to the operating model. In the second 30-day sprint, we designed the new models, taking into account staffing levels, mix of experience, governance, and operating procedures. Finally, in the third month, we implement and operationalize the new projects. We know from experience that three months is enough to implement and scale a digital enterprise. We’ve also seen banks, pharmaceutical companies, and insurance companies move entire field forces to a remote model within weeks.
Executives who want to succeed in digital recovery must quickly redefine their digital agendas to meet changing customer needs, bolster their decision support systems, and adjust their organizational models and technology tools to operate at the highest effective speed. It’s essential to set these goals early on and regularly measure your progress. Achieving parity or better across digital channels to win the race for revenue, rebuilding key decision support models, and doubling the speed of development are all within reach. The 90-day plan will help organizations go full digital.