Managing Director & Senior Partner
Digital transformation isn’t a new imperative for business leaders, but COVID-19 has made it more urgent, with companies looking to enhance their agility, speed, and data-driven decision making.
In a BCG survey of more than 5,000 managers and employees, over 80% said that digital was helping them get though the economic slowdown that the pandemic created.
Yet in most cases, digital transformation remains a work in progress—with a long way to go. More than a third of respondents felt that their organization lagged behind its competitors. Many companies have yet to apply digital technologies and ways of working at scale. Or to create a culture that embraces change, experimentation, and continual learning and improvement. Still other companies are planning end-to-end transformations but have yet to move beyond the drawing board.
So how can companies accelerate their digital transformation? The answer lies in creating a vision for the future and steadily building the capabilities—technological and human—that let you achieve it.
Only about 30% of companies navigate a digital transformation successfully. And navigating it in the midst of uncertainty—the new reality—is especially difficult because new behaviors and expectations take shape and evolve at warp speed. Our approach is focused on building bionic companies: organizations that blend digital and human capabilities—and apply them to all aspects of their business.
It doesn’t happen in one fell swoop. Transformations succeed when they are incremental, cost-effective, and sustainable. That means focusing on outcomes: new products, improved processes, and other use cases that, one by one, let you build capabilities, business value, and buy-in for the transformation.
We start by assessing where a company stands—and where it wants to go. We look at its people, technology, and data. At its culture, leadership, and governance. And at industry trends and disruptions. We help companies tie their digital transformation strategy to business outcomes and goals. In fact, according to Forrester Research’s Q4 2020 Wave report on digital business transformation services, BCG has a sharp focus on identifying and delivering measurable business outcomes.
Implement outcomes. We work with companies to identify, prioritize, and implement high-impact use cases. This lets clients create value quickly while demonstrating what digital technologies and ways of working can do for the business. The process entails three stages: innovate (build a proof of concept and validate the business case), incubate (launch a minimum viable product and test and learn with agile sprints), and industrialize (run the technology and business process at scale). After an initial wave of use cases, the process repeats with the next wave—and so on.
Manage talent and build digital skills. Digital transformation is about evolving and augmenting—not replacing—human capabilities. We help companies develop their digital talent plans in areas like data science and human-centered design. We also help them zero in on the optimal location strategies and strike the right balance between insourcing and outsourcing. And we assist, from day one, in training, on-the-job learning, coaching, and upskilling—essential but often less successful elements of digital transformation.
Transform ways of working and the operating model. Agile ways of working enable companies to respond quickly to change. So, helping companies adopt agile is a key pillar of our digital transformation consulting. We embed the behaviors and culture that foster cross-functional collaboration, iterative development, and a new approach to learning—one that enables people to adapt and innovate at digital speed. We show leaders how they can deploy agile throughout the organization. And just as importantly, we work to align governance, processes, and organizational structure with a more platform-driven—and less siloed—operating model.
Drive technology transformation. One of the most crucial elements of digital transformation is a data and digital platform (DDP). A launching pad for high-value use cases, a DDP utilizes components—including a data lake, APIs, and microservices—that allow companies to build applications in a modular, scalable way and to readily access the data they need. We help companies create DDPs as well as the governance and processes that let them deliver new capabilities—and value—at digital speed. We also assess how new technologies, ecosystems, and partnerships, in areas such as AI and the Internet of Things, can enhance transformation and spur new opportunities.
Govern for value. Businesses that transform successfully leverage fast—and simplified—decision making. They use the right KPIs—often all-new ones—to monitor progress toward outcomes. And they remove obstacles quickly and effectively. We help companies develop a weekly cadence for vital decisions (no more one-month gold standard) and a robust digital value measurement system. We show them how to bring their business and tech sides together and how to lead the transformation from the top—but imbue every level with responsibility.
A Digital Transformation Leader
BCG was named a leader in digital transformation services by Forrester Research. Find out why in The Forrester Wave™: Digital Business Transformation Services, Q4 2020 report.
In the face of massive industry changes, Nissan has transformed its IT function, becoming “Nissan Digital.” In this interview, Tony Thomas, the automaker’s CIO, describes how Nissan scaled its digital capabilities throughout the business, reshaped its application portfolio, and upskilled its IT team.
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