3. Put analytics on the front lines
Instead of thinking only big and long-term about data, leaders see sophisticated big data capabilities as a mid-term goal. They focus on building small nuclei of dedicated, high-powered data capabilities near to the business user. Building a data foundation for the long term is very important. However, these investments will take time to pay back. Significant improvements can be created immediately by ensuring that the most important data are available instantly to support decision making, on demand, and in a flexible form. Through this transformation, incumbent leaders can reduce decision times and start building data science capabilities to ensure future competitiveness.
4. Free the digital team
Often incumbent businesses prove unattractive to highly skilled digital talent, who have too many choices and seek evidence of commitment and the potential for making an impact. Leaders often start by putting together a stand-alone but well-connected digital team. Freed from legacy silos and culture, and with support of senior executives, such groups can become capability incubators and a rallying point for digital transformation, knowledge sharing and marketing. It should be worth noting that ‘stand-alone’ doesn’t mean isolated; successful digital teams retain strong links to the core businesses, creating a transition path from non-digital to digital for the business model. By freeing the digital team, leaders are able to grow the native talent critical to digital transformation, and are able to embed the product management mind-set required to support the development of digital properties, support agile penetration, and explicitly anchor commercial digital metrics.
5. Innovate without borders
Innovation definitely should not be confined to the boundaries of the R& D department. New ideas should span the entire organisation. In order to tap into as much creativity as possible, leaders play the numbers game and build an innovation ecosystem. This comprises partnerships with external labs, academia, investments in start-ups, and strategic partnership with other companies etc.
6. Disrupt yourself
The fear of disruption to legacy business tends to paralyse incumbents. In the near term, leaders explore digital businesses side by side with their legacy business. They understand that the risk of disruption and short term profits is a necessary trade-off for long-term survival. Incumbents need to keep in mind that in the digital era, the right combination of speed and skills is the ultimate differentiator. There are opportunities for leaders who dare to make the change, the laggards will ultimately wind out as losers.