Where will your business be in five years? 10 years? Who can say? The answer depends on dynamics completely outside your control — evolving customer preferences, shifting market landscapes and disruptive events.
But to succeed, businesses must constantly anticipate changes ahead and act instantaneously with just the right move to outmaneuver the competition — as if on intuition.
Imagine channeling awareness, intelligence and experience into the exact right decision with blazing speed: to invest or divest, raise or lower prices, shift production or supply chains and, above all else, keep your brand continuously relevant to customers. This is the power that comes from engineering intuition into your business.
The intuitive operating model
Engineering intuition into a business requires far more than upgrading a few systems or bolting on new capabilities. It takes an intuitive operating model: a collection of intelligent and automated business processes, enabled by technology and data, that transform your business into a highly resilient enterprise that can adapt instantaneously.
Building an intuitive operating model is a two-pronged effort of harnessing the latest market dynamics and evolving your mindset to see how they apply to your organization. Here’s what it takes to become an intuitive business.
Five market dynamics that support an intuitive operating model
1. Really, really big data.
By 2025, the world will generate 463 exabytes (that’s 463 followed by 18 zeroes) of data every day. Every swipe, comment, tap, click, step, temperature, aroma or heartbeat recorded by a sensor creates data that contains a story of someone’s needs, wants, likes, dislikes — even future desires and aspirations. Data unlocks the goldmine of what customers think and feel. And that is the secret to consistently and intuitively delivering the experiences that inspire devotion.
2. The rise of the digital business ecosystem.
Cloud unleashes more than massive on-demand computing resources: It makes it possible for business partners, suppliers, customers, applications, information providers and technology resources to interoperate and conduct business across digital collaboratives that can form and re-form as needed. Done right, these ecosystems drive innovation. They radically lower the costs and risks of business model experimentation and reveal opportunities for both incremental improvement and disruption. When companies are part of an ecosystem, they can share capabilities, processes and information to quickly deliver insights and new ways of getting things done.
3. Fast 5G internet — everywhere.
The rise of connected devices, from the simplest temperature sensor to the fantastically complex smartphones in our pockets, blurs the lines between our physical and digital worlds. Now, fueled by super-fast, super low-latency, extremely stable and secure 5G networks, business can “sense” more information, at real-time speeds and in far more places and spaces than ever before — and instantaneously predict and act on that data. From robotic surgery to self-maintaining factories to autonomous driving, 5G will enable crucial decisions and actions to happen instantaneously.
4. Systems that learn.
For the first time in human history, we have a tool that can make itself. Machine-learning systems improve on their own over time: They learn how to recognize patterns and find insights, without being told explicitly what to do or where to look. This is what powers the recommendations in our Netflix queue, how Ocado packs groceries, how Uber matches drivers with passengers. Software that harnesses machine learning helps businesses find meaning in vast troves of data, pulling insights from millions of customer interactions and accurately predicting customers’ evolving needs.
5. The rise of purpose.
Purpose ultimately determines business relevance: An intuitive enterprise is connected to the world beyond its self-referential borders. Through the use of sensors, data, AI and analytics, it’s now possible to know everything about everything that truly matters to your business, inspires your employees, establishes customer connections, forges community ties and sustains the planet. Purpose is a business’s declaration of the positive impact it has on society, and an intuitive operating model helps it deliver on that promise.
New mindsets for building an intuitive operating model
Of course, it’s not enough to know what the market dynamics are — it will take new thinking and understanding at both the senior executive level and across the enterprise to adeptly apply them to your business. Achieving this new outlook requires three mindset shifts:
- Get fluent in, and comfortable with, data. Our recent research reveals that by 2023, businesses globally will increase their use of AI-enabled processes and resources for complex decision making by 50%. Just as most stock trading is now undertaken by intelligent machines, complex business decisions will increasingly be made more quickly and effectively through AI. When the insights from data are front and center of business conversations, every action becomes a confident, swift and strategic choice based on accurate, real-time information.
- Find the win-win-win in automation. Technology-powered business models are essential for meeting the speed, efficiency and accuracy needed today. But autonomous should not mean human-less: in fact, “inefficiencies” such as a cheerful greeting in the checkout line can be hugely valuable in both human and monetary terms. Win-win-win automation requires businesses to balance human empathy, judgment and creativity with the precision, speed and efficiency of intelligent automation.
- Put people first. Business processes are the layer between the technology that powers your operations and the experiences you deliver: They shape the customer journey and relationship with your organization with every interaction. Staying relevant requires keeping people as your North Star and putting these processes in the service of delivering high-value, highly personalized experiences for customers and partners — and making your employees more efficient, productive and satisfied in their work.
Agility, adaptability and relevance
Amid accelerated turbulence and change, the future will go to the agile and the adaptable — to those businesses that precisely assess and act in an instant, as if through intuition.
But business intuition doesn’t just happen — it needs to be engineered. By adopting the market dynamics and mindset shifts required to build an intuitive operating model, businesses can set themselves on the path to sustained relevance. They’ll anticipate what matters — stakeholder needs, the interdependencies and external factors that shape their experience — and take the precise action required to positively contribute to society and our evolving world.