Slap on a band aid or treat the structural problems beneath? It’s an old question, but one which Covid-19 has brought to the fore. Navigating through today’s choppy waters to achieve sustainable long-term results has never been more dependent on taking the right decisions and making the right investments. Businesses which had already embarked on digital transformation before the pandemic broke out were in a better position to deal with Covid-19-related challenges, and have managed to turn around their products and services to meet new conditions. When Disney’s parks were forced to close, for example, it streamed its content, while packing and food service giant Novolex seized the opportunity to market a product aimed at protecting first responders on the pandemic frontline.
Businesses are meeting challenges on multiple fronts as the pandemic continues: Radical changes to global supply networks, quarantine regimes, and an avalanche of sometimes conflicting data must be dealt with while traditional business models are under pressure to change. Any organization seeking to survive in this environment must be in a position to leverage real-time insights. What makes the fast-moving environment exciting as well as challenging is that the NextGen technological capabilities needed not just to survive, but to thrive, are available: from cloud commerce, machine learning, and predictive analytics through contactless services and sense-and-respond. The pandemic has offered organizations the opportunity to reinvent and radically transform their services and models, not just to meet the challenges of Covid-19 but to deal with the structural faults which decision-makers might have continued to treat with band-aids if the pandemic had not forced their hand.
Using NextGEN Enterprise Transformation, organizations can completely remodel old services and launch new ones, using the forced lockdown to drill down into underlying business and technology needs. Seizing the chance for real innovation, enterprises can move forward more strongly than ever by finding new ways to boost employee and customer loyalty, work with new and old partners, and ensure truly sustainable growth.
Relying on efficient operation and using tried and tested technology will not be enough for companies to emerge in good shape in a post-pandemic world where competitiveness will require digital sophistication. What is needed is a wholesale transformation, not a piecemeal stitch-and-mend, with a meaningful surge in digital capacity so companies can stay competitive through up-to-date data and technology solutions.
For an enterprise to emerge from Covid-19 in new and reinvigorated shape, the role of the CXO is crucial, and will remain so in the near future as the transformation initiatives being implemented now begin to bear fruit and enterprises have to embrace the new normal
A fundamental part of this process is to appoint a Chief Transformation Officer (CXO) to give direction and leadership from a synergistic, whole-enterprise perspective.
The work of the CXO comprises five crucial elements: value, enterprise-wide transformation, technology, talent spotting resources, momentum.
• In terms of value, the CXO must first, look beyond boosting ROI in the short term, and second, maintain a clear focus on measurable business objectives from the start of every transformation intervention. Unless the long-term objective is clearly defined and kept well in the foreground, it can be lost to view in the day-to-day minutiae of the transformation processes and pressures.
• In terms of enterprise-wide transformation, if long-term goals are to be achieved and business value sustainably boosted, then the CXO must align these goals with management objectives. Executives must be brought on board across the whole organization, through strong collaborative partnerships with other leaders (CEO, CFO, CSO, CMO, CTO) to magnify the impact of each transformation intervention, locate synergies, and leverage cross-functional possibilities. Hence, organizational change management is a fundamental part of achieving the new norm which the CXO is brought in to see implemented across the enterprise.
• In terms of technology, the CXO must be aware, and ensure awareness among his or her executive partners, that transformation will be led by technology. In particular, using technology to carry out automation and simplification of processes will facilitate the wider organizational transformation. However, this focus on the value of a technology-led transformation must never become a focus on the technology itself: the technology is always a means to a larger end. Partnerships with the CTO and CIO, in particular, will be valuable in ensuring transformation is technology-led.
• In terms of talent spotting, while implementing enterprise-wide change management the CXO must also embark on a ‘talent-spotting’ strategy which will underpin the sustainability of the transformations introduced. In the recent pandemic, for example, the vast majority of companies have introduced widespread remote working, sweeping health and safety provisions, physical distancing, and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), all of which require employees to make greater use of technology. The CHRO will be particularly valuable to the CXO in this area of transformation.
• In terms of momentum, the CXO must ensure that transformation interventions leading to increased value are not one-offs, but integrated into the fabric of the enterprise in such a way that they will persist even in the face of shifts in market conditions or other circumstances, and that the value of each wave of initiatives will promote and fund the next. This is why it is crucial to maintain awareness from the outset of measurable business outcomes.
Dealing with COVID-19 related business disruptions, CXOs can effectively ignite the change and be the quarterback for driving business transformation, improving odds of success while embracing the new norm through the turbulent times and beyond. Each day tells us more clearly that piecemeal make-do-and-mend operations will not be enough to ensure an enterprise survives the pandemic; instead, enterprises must be prepared to accommodate far broader transformations. Enterprises seeking to address the many and varied challenges of COVID-19 have had to seek innovative new ways of operating and run with them because no one can stand still during a pandemic. If a CXO is to bring about enterprise-wide digital transformation, he or she must be prepared for ongoing evolution, rather than one-time change, using technologies to wholly reinvent the NextGEN Enterprise, rather than tinker with current organizational models.