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Change: Embrace It, Learn From It, Use It to Achieve Competitive Advantage

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Have we reached the point where “constant change” is inherent? Can we simply recognize that no organization or industry is exempt from “constant change”?

If we assume change is a constant, then is our best course of action determining best practices for using change to improve our organizations, become more responsive, agile and resilient while ensuring we target investments to transform our organization ahead of the curve, and attain competitive advantage?

Savvy Investments

Per KPMG in their recently released research series, Succeed in Constant Change, the most profitable firms are 10% more likely to invest in industry technology innovation. The least profitable businesses more often invest in legacy technology.

Indeed, the most successful companies are investing in a combination of emerging industry technology and are either developing internally or engaging outside talent with the expertise to leverage advanced technology. Data, analytics and automation make up the most common technology investments. These technologies apply to numerous industries, but each industry has specialized applications. Those lacking the talent to fully utilize these technologies will find themselves left behind.

Putting Investment Benefits to Work

The investment in both technology and talent are commonly supporting three key areas:

1. Consumerization

Today it’s important to both recognize an individual consumer as a “market of one,” and, as with market segments, be engaged across multiple channels. This is when an automated back office, capable of helping the company make better decisions and ensure they are catering to individual customer needs proves its worth.

In addition, retaining top-notch talent by treating employees as individuals requires leaders who understand employee differences and create more personalized experiences.

2. Changing demographics and the democratization of technology

Substantial demographic changes not only impact an organization’s future customer base, but also its future talent base. Social, cultural and generational personal changes, along with new workforce characteristics pose a variety of complexities.

Accessibility to robust technologies, (e.g. cloud computing, social and mobile) is widespread among companies and consumers. Mobile purchase decisions take place in both personal and corporate situations.

3. Digitization of everything

Beyond using technology to optimize the back office, progressive companies are investing in technologies to improve the front office as well. Changing customer expectations necessitate new ways of interacting with customers. Essentially, connectivity – AKA “The Internet of Things” – encompasses everything – people, processes, data and objects.

A company can strengthen the likelihood of success from their innovation initiatives through effective use of technology and talent. While true innovation has inherent risks, and won’t be successful every time, leveraging superior technology and talent increases odds relative to companies that haven’t built these capabilities.

Action Items:

1. Given your industry, your current status on the continuum of lowest to highest use of advanced technology, and the level of talent currently within your organization, develop a plan to find ways to fund highly strategic acquisition of the technology and talent that will complement what you have today and bring your organization forward as quickly as possible. This may need to be a phased plan, and it will likely incorporate staffing changes. Ensure you have the best talent leading the charge in determining what technology and what skill sets are needed to use new technologies to greatest advantage.

2. Create methods to benchmark your organization – or better yet – future mark your organization against those organizations you and your leadership team consider best-in-class. Track your progress at least quarterly, and make adjustments as needed.

3. Test your organization’s ability to meet the needs of a “market of one” and across all relevant channels. Set goals and track your progress – remembering to factor in constant change in customer expectations and innovations across channels.

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