Whether you have already chosen Adobe as your enterprise marketing platform, or are currently evaluating other options such as Salesforce, Oracle, or IBM, it’s vital to understand how well-positioned you are to succeed at transforming your organization’s content strategy.
The benefits of transforming how you produce and distribute content in your organization are many:
new customer acquisition,
organic growth of your existing customer base,
new product launch awareness,
higher search result rankings (SEO),
increased earned media,
increased marketing team efficiency, and more.
Above all, the opportunity is to create a best-in-class experience for key stakeholders, including customers, employees and target markets.
Choice and access to content is greater than ever. Getting your message through is harder than ever and requires mastery of several key areas:
While technology is often the most tangible and high profile element contributing to your success, it is usually not the greatest challenge facing a digital transformation project. Everything on the technology side can go perfectly and efforts can still fail due to your organization’s inability to plan for and execute change.
We have developed a self-assessment tool to help executives assess readiness for digital transformation and to aid in building a strategy and implementation plan for achieving success.
In our experience, success is based on seven key areas: Strategy, Leadership, Change Management, Organizational Alignment, Business Alignment, Technology Alignment, and Risk and Security. So, we’ve developed 21 questions, 3 in each area, to focus you in on how ready you are to succeed.
No organization is ever fully ready for the digital transformation journey right out of the gate – nor should that be expected. Tireless energy is required to manage and improve capabilities on many fronts. So, don’t worry if, after completing this assessment, you end up on the low end of the spectrum. All the better to gain insight and plan now to address the issues in advance. The journey itself also helps drive actions and learnings that close the gaps and build the capabilities needed for success.
What is one example that comes to your mind when you are thinking of corporate innovation?
A great example of corporate innovation is Starbucks. They have combined their high-quality products and dedicated customer base and deployed a range of innovative digital tools to re-invent their coffee-buying experience. Not only can you pay with your mobile app which is connected to your credit card or PayPal account, but you can also place your order in advance and pick it up at any location – talk about a frictionless experience! Not only is Starbucks innovating in the coffee business, they have become one of the largest mobile payment providers as well.
Through the Starbucks Reward Program, they are collecting large amounts of exclusive customer data that assist them in trying to craft the perfect personalized experience. While other companies definitely use loyalty programs and various digital tools to understand and design a seamless customer experience, to me, Starbucks always seems to be one step ahead of the rest.
Why is corporate innovation getting more attention now than ever before?
With the rise of disruptive platforms like Airbnb, Amazon and Uber specializing in fast and simple customer experiences, CEOs everywhere are realizing they need to innovate in order to keep their businesses relevant in this rapidly changing digital world.
In the past decade, large companies have started to see small startups entering their industries and starting to have an impact. With daily business conversations centering around ‘digital, cloud, mobile, social, big data’, CEOs and business leaders are under increasing pressure to understand and assess the risks and opportunities. Many CEOs have jumped on the innovation bandwagon, as they no longer have an option not to. Corporate innovation is and must continue to be a major topic of conversation.
How are large corporations working with entrepreneurs and startups to improve their business?
Entrepreneurs and startups can hold the key to innovation that corporations often lack. They can breathe life into them with fresh eyes, unique problem-solving skills, critical innovations and the potential to tap into new and expanded markets.
Corporations are not startups and really shouldn’t strive to be. Rather, as discussed by Tendayi Viki, established companies need to create innovation ecosystems, recognizing different areas of the business as distinct business entities, each at a different level of maturity. Some corporations are starting to take this ecosystem approach, which helps them work with entrepreneurs and startups to gain a unique solution to a specific problem.
How can corporations break out of the classic rigidness associated with large rigid organizations and become more flexible?
A common trap for killing innovation is to follow a traditional approach that comes with rigid corporate business models: striking up a project team, creating a committee or having ‘regular meetings’. Forget it. If these activities haven’t worked in the past, even for more standard efforts, why would they work for your most challenging and disruptive priorities?
While there’s no one recipe for success and every business situation is different, learning how to adapt your mindset and organizational culture to digital innovation and transformation only increase your likelihood of success.
Creating disruption from within is about more than launching a new initiative with a catchy name or creating an investment fund. It can’t happen without teaching your people how to think and behave more like entrepreneurs, risk takers, and innovators. You need to make people in all parts of your organization accountable for voicing new ideas, taking chances, challenging norms (and senior management), and moving things forward in a sometimes ambiguous environment.
Without vocal, repeated and demonstrable support for these behaviors, sustained innovation will not happen.
An organization’s people are the drivers of innovation and disruption. Corporate executives need to nurture this environment, not try to control and direct. The ideas that will drive the long-term success of a company do not come from steering committees. People that live and breathe the business, serve customers day in and day out, know the intricacies of the products and services, and understand the good, the bad and the ugly of your company – they are the ones who will lead the way.
How large organizations can drive change in the face of disruptive competition.
The 21st century has introduced a new generation of competition. Capitalism in the 19th and 20th centuries was largely a matter of ‘bigger is better’. From the early days of the Industrial Revolution through to the 1980s, there was a common set of themes that defined business success: economies of scale, division of labor, quality through minimizing process variance, conglomeration, vertical integration, and so on.
The Information Age brought new capabilities that enabled small business to thrive, unleashing the potential of entrepreneurs everywhere to challenge mature industries and long established business models. Financial services, professional services, transportation, media, advertising, retail are all under threat from non-traditional competitors and disruptive start-ups.
Many large organizations struggle with how to respond and get ahead of these changes.
Why have we failed to make major change happen?
Let’s look at disruptive change from the perspective of a large company that is starting to see small startups entering various parts of their industry: none are having a major impact today, but it is unsettling nonetheless. And with daily business conversations centering around ‘digital, cloud, mobile, social, big data’, and people in meetings talking about the Ubers and Airbnbs of the world, CEOs are on edge, trying to understand and assess the risks and opportunities.
Creating disruption from within is about more than launching a new initiative with a catchy name or creating an investment fund. It can’t happen without teaching your people how to think and behave more like entrepreneurs, risk takers, and innovators. Making people in all parts of your organization accountable for:
voicing new ideas;
challenging norms (and senior management); and
moving things forward in a sometimes ambiguous environment.
Without vocal, repeated and demonstrable support for these behaviors, sustained innovation will not happen.
An organisation’s people are the drivers of innovation and disruption. Executives need to nurture this environment, not try to control and direct. The ideas that will drive the long term success of a company do not come from steering committees. People that live and breathe the business, the customers day in and day out, the intricacies of the products and services, the good, the bad and the ugly of the company, are the ones who will lead the way.
But it’s not as if organizations don’t already have the strong and talented management to recognize and take action to address these issues. So why isn’t it working?
Innovation vs. stagnation: Why do large, well-managed, successful organizations struggle when faced with disruptive change?
Solid research points to at least part of the answer: “Good management was the most powerful reason why leading companies failed to stay atop of their industries.”
Wait, what? Here’s why:
Large firms with good management can fail for the exact same reasons they succeed:
listening to customers;
investing aggressively in technology, process and operational capabilities that their largest customers need;
adding new features and services to their product suite; carefully studying market trends; and
systematically allocating investment capital to innovations that promise the best returns.
The research has shown that the principles of good management are only situationally appropriate. Situations involving sustaining versus disruptive technologies require different management approaches.
With disruptive change, there are times when it is right not to listen to customers, right to invest in developing products that deliver lower margins and aggressively pursue smaller markets.
Naturally, this cuts against the grain of most organizations’ strategy, management norms, structures, processes and cultures. So getting from here to there is a major challenge.
How to get there: things you can do now
A common trap is following traditional approaches: striking up a project team, creating a committee or having ‘regular meetings’. Forget it. If these activities haven’t worked in the past, even for more standard efforts, why would they work for your most challenging and disruptive priorities?
Try new tactics. Test and learn. Fail fast and try again.
Be ready for the ups and downs of the journey and keep moving despite them. When in doubt, remember this quote from Winston Churchill: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
Here are some new strategies and tactics to consider:
Look outside your organization for wisdom and inspiration. Join groups, meetups, and mailing lists on topics that inspire you. (Example, ‘The Customer Development [Manifesto]’ has a lot of statements that can challenge your assumptions).
Question and reconsider preconceived notions and assumptions of how change can happen in your organization.
Keep in mind, if it doesn’t feel different or uncomfortable, you probably aren’t changing anything.
Focus on execution of fundamentals and build a sense of urgency into everything you do.
Adopt a startup mindset and culture. Keep things small and focused. Aggressively narrow scope and timelines.
Don’t just throw money at things. Be frugal and invest in stages, spending only on what is critical and with milestones tied to progress. Quality of money matters: too much dilutes focus, too little implies lack of commitment and saps energy and speed. Think like an angel or VC.
Build your ‘Goldilocks’ team. Is there a team, department, function or group that can propel you to an early success? It should be small enough that clear objectives and outcomes can be defined, while big enough that the result will be significant and measurable.
Find smaller opportunities that can get to success quickly. Ones that demonstrate to others that change is possible, taking risks is rewarding, and innovative use of new technologies is happening.
Emulate the characteristics of entrepreneurs and startups (probably the same strengths that powered your own company’s early success).
Exercise ways to get fresh perspectives
Just like you would train to run a marathon or study to learn a new language, opening up to new ways of thinking takes effort. Find and study one example of a way to get a fresh perspective and practice trying to gain a new point of view.
Here is one to try: a video that talks about how seeing the entire Earth from Space can change your whole perspective.
Perseverance is most important
There are many traits considered instrumental to business success: customer-centric organizations, singular focus on product and service quality, streamlined delivery, collaborative work, transparency, hunger for results. Above all is persistence. Perseverance. The belief in yourself and your vision. The trail is well worn, with others leaving signposts and markers, which are the wisdom and tactics to help us succeed.
Here are some inspiring success stories that endured repeated failures:
WD-40 literally stands for “Water Displacement – 40th Attempt”.
James Dyson created 5,127 failed prototypes over 15 year before his first Dyson vacuum cleaner model was proven successful.
Angry Birds was Rovio’s 52nd attempt over 8 years.
Nine months after launch, Pinterest had “catastrophically small numbers”. The site only had 10,000 users and very few of them were active on a daily basis.
Response from Dustin Moskovitz, Facebook co-founder, when asked how he felt about Facebook’s overnight success: “If by ‘overnight success’ you mean staying up and coding all night, every night for six years straight, then it felt quite tiring and stressful.” Facebook was launched as Facemash in 2003 and it took almost 9 years to grow Facebook for an IPO.
Starbucks began in 1971 and took 16 years before it started to expand beyond Seattle.
OpenTable, the online restaurant reservations site, began in 1998, went public 11 years later in 2009 with a market cap of $626M and in 2014 was sold to Priceline for $2.6B.
LinkedIn began in 2002 and launched a year later in 2003. Profitability was achieved 3 years after launch in 2006, it became a publicly traded company in 2011 and was purchased by Microsoft in 2016 for $26.2B.
While there’s no one recipe for success in every business situation, learning how to adapt your mindset and organizational culture to digital innovation and transformation only increase your likelihood of success.