Earlier this year, Outsource editor Jamie Liddell chaired an advisor roundtable hosted by Capgemini, during which key themes emerged which were subsequently explored further by several of the roundtable guests in our recent two-part article 'A Dizzying Pace of Change'. Alongside that content, Capgemini's CEO Application Services UK, Paul Margetts - who was also in attendance at the original discussion - submitted his own response to the question addressed by the advisors; Outsource took the perspective that while it would be anomalous to include that response in what is explicitly an advisors' roundtable, it is still a valuable contribution to the debate. What follows is, therefore, a standalone article which should nevertheless be read in conjunction with the earlier feature (accessible here).
Outsource: Bearing in mind the extraordinary pace of technological evolution we’re experiencing, do you feel that organisations themselves are evolving as quickly as they need to? What are the primary ramifications of your answer?
Paul Margetts: It’s clear that technology innovation is growing exponentially; the ability of organisations to adapt is much slower. The main reasons for this are the traditional processes, systems, people and culture organisation that take more time to adapt. The classic change management issue. Many organisations are still very much based on top-down communication and decision-making. Today, collaborative platforms are breaking down this structure and allowing employees to collaborate horizontally and regardless of hierarchy.
There is no one size fits all; organisations go through different stages of digital organisational maturity, continuously adapting to a fast-changing environment of customer expectations, competitive disruptions and technology advances.
Our research with the MIT Centre titled ‘Organising for Digital: Why Digital Dexterity Matters’ shows that very few companies have reached that status yet. High-performing organisations combine digital capability with digital dexterity. Establishing digital capability leadership, i.e. digital technology to improve customer experience or employee engagement, is not enough. Organisations also need to be nimble and flexible – dextrous – i.e. have the ability to self-organise to deliver new value from digital technologies.
So how can you increase pace in becoming a digital organisation?
We all have the potential to become a digital organisation but, as with any large-scale change management, it requires leadership, investment and tenacity. Drawing on our research with MIT and working with our clients, we have identified four dimensions that are critical to succeed.
1. Customer-first with a digital mindset
The default position for digital organisations is to seek digital solutions and keep a lookout for new technologies, while continually investing in their digital capabilities. This can revolutionise all functions of the business, primarily how you connect with your customers, but also redesigning your core processes and ways of working. Communicate clearly how digital transformation will improve the way people do their jobs and win hearts and minds of your customers reducing resistance to change.
2. Digitised practices
Digitising operations and encouraging collaborative ways of working are essential to developing the adaptability and long-term resilience of a digital organisation. Encourage adoption not deployment of tools by being intuitive; institutionalise new work practices which should become the default. Done well, this can help you to speed up decision-making, reduce time to market and drive out inefficiencies in your business.
3. Empowered talent
You can raise the digital IQ of your organisation by putting a premium on building widespread digital skills and increasing engagement of your workforce. Engaging in this way can often be a catalyst for culture change, especially when supported by a more innovative reward structure.
4. Data access & collaboration tools
Digital organisations invest in their data capability and provide access to this data via collaboration and insight tools to empower and engage their workforce. This enables them to drive new levels of innovation, efficiency and customer personalisation and responsiveness while seamlessly sharing intelligence across the organisation.
To ensure they stay relevant in this volatile environment, organisations need to have the agility to respond to disruption. They will also have to retain their DNA and stay true to their values and culture. It is digital dexterity that is of the essence in an organisation’s design. Dexterity means your business is truly rewired for the digital age maintaining its core identity.