Technologies help us deliver on a business strategy. Without a strategy, there is no rationale for deploying technologies. In addition, there is no rationale for digital transformation, unless there is a need for business transformation. If you believe this as we do, then strategy development will be a priority. Strategies, however, are developed under the guidance of a doctrine. The purpose of a doctrine is to create a high level understanding of what we we want to achieve with our strategy, and the concepts that must be employed to achieve it. An organization’s doctrine will guide strategy development, and the tactics needed to achieve a goal.
An example of a doctrine is, "We will be a fast follower, and excel at quickly manufacturing and delivering fashions proven to be in demand." With this doctrine, the company can now develop strategies that align with the doctrine.
Many executives consider digital transformation to be mostly an IT issue. We, however, believe IT serves only one purpose – supporting the needs and strategies of the business. If the business doesn’t have a strategy that requires digital transformation, then there is no transformation role for IT to play.
In today's fast changing digital environment, the operational speed and agility of a business can mean the difference between winning and losing. Speed and agility are not grass roots efforts, but the result of decisive and strong leadership with a clear vision. Leaders must have an intimate understanding of the goals, doctrines and strategies of the organization, and the resources and levers of power available to achieve them. They must have both the will and the clout to manuever the organization through the turbulence of change. Grassroots efforts to transform an organization often takes too much time and the process of consensus building too slow to compete against engaged, focused leaders.
In order to act fast, leaders must have an intimate understanding of fast changing customer behaviors. Leaders must know how much change is happening, and the technologies that are supporting these changes. We watched consumers adopt and utilize the internet, mobile devices, search engines, online auctions, mobile retailer apps/websites, online classifieds, online markets and sharing economy platforms. These changes required new business strategies and new digital strategies to support them.
Fast changing business environments require us to measure and understand how fast buying habits and shopping behaviors are changing. We must also understand where in the various steps of the path-to-purchase journey changes are taking place, and then understand how to attract and engage our markets in those new and mobile locations. None of this is easy. Many new behaviors and trends are outside of traditional measurements. Leaders must measure the pace of market change, and align resources and priorities to ensure their organizations are changing, if not at the same pace, at least at a pace ahead of their competition.
What units of measure will capture the speed of change? What data sources will provide the data necessary for analysis, and how do we capture the data? Once we have a methodology in place for measuring the pace of market change, how do we then measure the pace of our own changes inside our organizations and in those of our competitors so we know how we are doing?
Download my latest report, "How Digital Thinking Separates Retail Leaders from Laggards."
Watch the 3-minute video on digital thinking in retail.