Motivated by the pandemic to speed up its digital agenda and reduce costs, one Fortune 50 company confidently set out to meet unprecedented business challenges.
What it found surprised leadership. Despite viewing itself as digitally advanced, the company discovered critical gaps in its use of technology. IT lacked the right skill sets, efforts to build a modern infrastructure were falling short, and automation initiatives produced few of the projected enhanced capabilities or cost savings.
It’s an all-too-common scenario: the company’s digital agenda wasn’t delivering value back to the business, especially in meeting the needs and expectations of its customers and employees. Although modern business relies on technology more than ever, the greatest challenge that companies like this one face isn’t about bits and bytes but developing a plan that makes it all work in unison.
What we’ve learned over time is that outputs are just as important as inputs. By defining the desired business outcomes and fully capitalizing on the right technologies, companies can build the digital foundation to power the experiences, workflows and activities that differentiate them in the marketplace.
We often see confusion among clients as they obsess over sophisticated experiences that are dependent on advanced technologies such as machine learning and big data analytics. The optimal path forward becomes opaque and uncertain.
For example, we worked with a client that had deployed white-label software to create a high-quality customer experience (CX). The company viewed the end-to-end digital platform and the data it generated as a competitive advantage. But it had developed so many customer journeys that the effort to support them became costly, and the company was uncertain that it could sustain the experience as it grew. It hadn’t counted on the expense of transferring voluminous amounts of data to and from the public cloud, or the operational complexity of owning the data cross the customer lifecycle. We’re now supporting the client as it explores a more sustainable structure. Taking time to define the solution’s desired outcomes as part of the blueprinting/planning phase could have helped the company avoid the confusion.
At the opposite end of the spectrum are companies that fail to recognize the importance of delivering with speed at scale and often struggle with digital overhauls. For example, they fail to acknowledge that they lack the right skills, and they frequently don’t invest enough in building scale to reach or exceed the competition’s speed.
Companies in this situation often become lost in the digital fog as they lack the necessary skills and suffer from disjointed architectures and suboptimal IT partnerships. They experience cost overruns that are rarely if ever justified with measurable business returns.
Powering a modern business into the fourth industrial revolution requires organizations to master the digital stack. That means connecting the stack to outcomes that start with experience — for consumers, employees and partners — and extend to the instrumentation across the technology landscape. It takes software fueled by intelligent solutions and data running on connected cloud-based systems to provide the just-in-time experiences customers are looking for.
To create a holistic digital stack that’s extensible and continuously evolving, C-level leaders must consider the following primary factors in the context of desired business outcomes.
These primary factors ensure teams adapt to new technologies and modern ways of working. Additionally, change management and training activities (including cross-skilling and upskilling) will be pivotal to ensure that team members have the knowledge and understanding to deliver on the business vision and expectation.
Even digitally advanced companies can struggle with IT modernization, as we witnessed with our Fortune 50 client. After revisiting the required operating model, we’re building out a new roadmap for the company that’s focused on taking digital to the next level.
By emphasizing outputs and then implementing the optimal IT operating model, organizations gain the clarity to deliver better experiences and ways of working — quickly and effectively — that generate continuous value across the extended enterprise.
This article was written by Rupert Chapman, Vice President of Digital Strategy, Cognizant Consulting; James Houghton, Global Leader, Cognizant Digital Business Consulting; and Kyle Robichaud, an AVP within Cognizant Consulting.