It’s clear that the pandemic will lead to significant changes for businesses and the markets that they operate in. Despite a challenging 2020, these changes haven’t even begun to play out yet.
Take changing consumer habits and the increased preference for transacting online for instance. This of course leads to churn as customers move to better online offerings, but for the incumbents, the nature and shape of their business also needs to change.
A simple example might be a retailer who need to reduce their property and staffing footprint, and resource up in technology due to growth in that channel. Beyond headcount, this has completely different economics and operating models as a business and requires change at many levels.
Though we’ve talked about Digital Transformation for a long time, the transformation therefore takes on new complexity and urgency. The old barriers to entry and the overall slow pace of change that might have protected them for decades before the pandemic are now insufficient.
Digital Transformation pre-pandemic was all about the customer experience, moving channels online and into refreshed digital web and mobile experiences. In todays higher urgency situation however, I believe this transformation need to move beyond shiny front-ends to something much more fundamental that runs right through the business.
Rather than just a shinier front-end, companies will need to actually be able to innovate on their business model, test and learn with new ideas, and respond to the feedback that they are getting from their markets with very short iteration cycles.
Until now, the Data piece of the Digital Transformation story has likewise been about using data in the customer front-end, using it to track and understand customers and in some cases personalise the customer experience.
But as with digital transformation, Data should also be incorporated deep into the heart of the business to inform both tactics and strategy. Without up to date, accurate and complete data, companies will be flying blind as they iterate with their business model through a period of immense change.
Using data to drive quarterly strategy will not be sufficient. As an executive, I would want to know at least daily and ideally in real time what are the key metrics that I’m interested in, and how are the changes that we are making impacting those metrics. The stakes are too high and the world is too complex to drive these changes based on gut feel. You could easily steer a large organisation into a wall in a situation where you literally have a few quarters to get things right.
When Data is used throughout the business and to support the evolution of completely new business models. it’s clear that it will become critical as a competitive advantage and the companies that use it most effectively will go onto become the big winners of the next decade.