Focused on Growth? Accelerate Your Workforce Digital Acceleration
Accelerating the digital transformation of your company is the fastest way to grow and operate efficiently with resilience.
In order to grow, businesses need to move from a stage of initial analysis towards a growth strategy.
Having a digital foundation provides resilience. Prioritizing digital acceleration is the fastest way to help recovery, enable an evolving workforce for success, continue to engage customers, and operate efficiently with resilience.
Our latest eBook outlines how businesses can empower their new workforce for growth. Learn:
- How to reset expectation and strategies for growth
- Why being adaptive and transparent can empower your workforce
- How to define what digital transformation means to your business
Focused on Growth? Accelerate Your Workforce Digital Acceleration
As COVID-19 spread rapidly across the globe, businesses and communities were faced with both economic and humanitarian impacts that tested infrastructure, resources, and economic models. Organizations were looking for ways to defend against the spread of the virus, to protect their customers and their workforce, and to mitigate impacts that could have long-term effects on their business.
Before the pandemic, resistance to organizational change had delayed or stymied digital transformation for some, but the unforeseen manifestation of COVID-19 impacted every area of every business – every functional and organizational silo were being forced to respond. Businesses that had already embarked upon digital transformation initiatives have demonstrated that the digital foundation provides resilience. Many of these organizations are withstanding this uncertain and dynamic situation and intend to emerge with nimbleness and agility and to thrive in the next economic era.
While many organizations are still overwhelmed with the impact of the coronavirus and the shutdown of so much of the national and global economy, some organizations have been pleasantly surprised by their ability to rapidly assess the current situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic and pivot their business operations and teams to perform at new levels.
Some businesses are leading the way with unparalleled innovation. They are tapping their imaginations along with their experience as inspired entrepreneurs, innovators, and managers to generate bold, unconventional responses.
Forrester defines three modes that describe organizations today – survival, adaptive, and growth. (Forrester, 2020) They suggest key concerns for organizations in survival mode are cash and liquidity;
for those in adaptive mode, key concerns are flexibility and cost containment; and for those in growth mode, key concerns are speed and scalability.
Whatever the timeline and how the ultimate reality unfolds, we expect most firms will respond, recover, and rebound. Innovation and effective execution are key to business survival, adaptation, and growth. Resilient organizations are resetting expectations and strategies, adjusting their business models, empowering the “new normal” workforce, and prioritizing digital acceleration.
Prioritize Digital Acceleration
One thing that COVID19 has done for businesses is put a magnifying lens on the importance of the digital journey. Accelerating the digital transformation of the company is the fastest way to recover, enable an evolving workforce for success, continue to engage customers, and operate efficiently with resilience.
Now, more clearly than ever, firms need to become connected companies. Advancing the maturity of their digital frameworks, infrastructure, and capabilities as well as the digitization of products, services, and new solutions is a priority. Companies need to move past the initial digital maturity phases of “proof of concepts” and “validations” to actually transforming the enterprise. They need to set a base digital platform, optimize functions, promote interoperability, and transform the business model.
RCG is helping companies to define what digital transformation means to them, to leverage their digital workforce (including robotic process automation), to empower their remote customers, and to accelerate their digital journey with new approaches to business and technology:
Business automation brings greater human capacity to an organization to effectively manage and quickly respond to global challenges. For example, RCG is working with a transportation company to provide a data engineering solution that facilitates timely and accurate reporting related to sales analytics and transportation metrics so that the company can quickly secure state and federal aid directly related to COVID-19 impact on the travel industry.
Imagining and exploring how to reinvent business operations to support business anywhere with business practice innovation, applied intelligence, data, technology, and process expertise supports resilient growth. For example, RCG is working with a major Asset Manager to fast-track their journey to the cloud by architecting, designing, and implementing production Microsoft Azure environments in-support of Office 365 and Teams. This provides secure, collaborative solutions for the digital workforce and a platform for end-client interactions.
Anticipating and enhancing customer satisfaction requires modern quality engineering for new digital solutions. For example, RCG is helping a global quick-service restaurant accelerate growth and maintain positive customer experience with automated AI-driven tests for containerized, cloud-based software deployments, thereby ensuring that updates have built-in quality prior to release.
Creating, adapting, and accelerating digital transformation strategies requires both critical thinking and effort now. For example, RCG is building mobile apps for financial and healthcare organizations to make handling common/daily tasks easier than ever before by providing app lifecycle integration (ALI). This involves grouping the apps’ functionality into two categories – High Trust and Low Trust – allowing the end-user to have seamless experiences in their daily tasks.
Technology, infrastructure, and data management are critical success factors in enabling information and insight ecosystems. For example, RCG has partnered with a hospital system serving over 5M patients per year, with over 30,000 clinicians and staff to create and update interactive apps which optimize employee and patient experiences with improved communication, education, and self-service functions.
Data science, AI, and advanced analytics help understand, make, and even automate decisions with Intelligent Innovation. For example, RCG is creating a fraud interdiction solution for transactions originating from retail online banking posted through a digital payments network.
RCG has focused expertise in helping companies achieve their digital transformation and digital acceleration goals, and we’ve accumulated a great deal of experience in collaborating and achieving successful transformations. In “How to Succeed in the Modern Digital Era: Trends and Tips for Transformation in 2020 and Beyond” (RCG, 2020), RCG distilled knowledge we’ve gained through our real-world experience with client companies all around the globe into seven tips that you can use to streamline your journey to successful digital transformation in 2020 and beyond.
Empower Your New Normal Workforce
As the news of COVID-19 overtook global headlines in February, businesses dusted off their business continuity plans and began to edit them in the unlikely event that a pandemic was to be declared. Risk managers looked at the likelihood of worst-case scenarios, including loss of key resources or entire teams, limited availability, or complete losses of public services such as transportation, school shutdowns, city quarantines, etc.
By March, the worst-case scenario was being realized across the globe. Plans with new policies, new technologies, and new locations were being executed. By necessity, every company’s approach was unique, including RCG.
For example, at RCG, in addition to helping our clients adjust, we reset the approach to and velocity of our digital journey as well. Within 72 hours, RCG moved our global workforce (in the US, the Philippines, and India) to a work-from-home model. We collaborated with our clients to ensure we had in place the appropriate connectivity, security, and tracking needed to comply with their business needs and security requirements. Our teams have proven to be highly productive and dedicated in this new configuration. Another example is that our board and senior leaders met and took financial and contingency actions to create cash buffers and protect our position and compliance with bank covenants for what could be a very rough ride.
This challenging new environment places new pressures and demands on our employees which can impact morale and anxiety. There are fears of what’s next. We’ve communicated transparently and honestly with our employees and our clients about our business, our projects, and our people. We’re focused on sustaining and accelerating the momentum we’ve created with discipline and long-term plans. We’re executing in new ways and constantly tweaking the model to adapt and guide our evolution. We fully expect more of our clients’ teams and our teams to be working from home, and we have long term plans to support this model.
We’re reviewing what works and what doesn’t and applying the results to what’s next as we work with our teams, so they are confident of their value to our organization and our clients.
The workforce enablement model we apply internally and with our customers addresses the cultural, productivity, and economic impacts of the work from home arrangements.
The Business Culture Has Changed
Some of the moves RCG and other organizations have made to respond to COVID-19 will become permanent. Employees have strong opinions about working from home, and their opinions range from being ambivalent to being strongly in favor of either always, sometimes, or never working from home. Regardless of where employees are on the spectrum, workforce flexibility will become a larger factor in employee experience.
The way of work has also changed. Tools are being used differently than before. In January, most video conferences with tools such as Zoom, BlueJeans, Microsoft Teams, and WebEx used the video service to share documents and presentations, but participants remained off-camera. Now, participants look at each other as well.
Macy Bayern says, “Coronavirus has caused conferences, employee training, and meetings to go virtual—a trend that may not completely end after the chaos does, expert says.” (2020) When and as the return to offices happens, organizations will continue to engage with collaboration tools and communicate with the cameras on. In preparation, organizations will need to confirm that the connectivity, bandwidth, and security protocols are set to enable this new way of working together.
Productivity Has Increased
The more widespread use of collaboration tools, along with the substantial elimination of commute times, has helped to maintain and even increase workforce productivity. Organizations that hadn’t started or who were in the early stages of their digital journey prior to the COVID-19 stay at home orders have been working hard to catch up. Businesses that can scale rapid workplace conversion to adapt to emerging needs will be better positioned to navigate disruptions and pave the way to a stronger recovery. (McKinsey & Company, 2020) Resilient organizations will turn these changes into a competitive advantage.
Resilient organizations are implementing modern productivity tools to energize their digital journeys such as mobile apps for work anytime from anywhere, cloud operations for security and efficiency, and digital workers or bots for automation of processes.
The Economic Impact Is Not Only Short-Term
Among leading companies, almost 60% of CEOs believe the economy won’t return to pre-pandemic levels until the first quarter of 2022. More than a quarter say it will be a full year later. But, 75% see the crisis forcing them to accelerate their companies’ technological transformation. (Fortune, 2020)
The reason for an organization’s digital journey should be growth. In 2020, it should be focused on rebounding with resilience and laying the foundation for growth in 2021 and beyond.
Prime focus areas for productivity and growth currently include:
- Finding innovative ways to reduce costs (“costovation”)
- Keeping focused on customer loyalty
- Adjusting to new consumer behaviors and trends
- Collaborating and kickstarting more creative thinking and solutions
- Focusing on data sharing
- Rethinking, reimagining, and redesigning the customer experience
- Finding ways to help people and partner in the response
- Examining and altering digital strategy
- Better enabling virtual business and work
- Automating manual processes so to create resilience
Adjust and Reimagine the Business Model
The truth remains, as Peter Drucker said, “Innovate or Die.” 80% of companies that existed in 1980 are gone after failing to innovate. As highlighted in the RCG eBook on Disruptive Growth (RCG, 2020), it is predicted that only one in ten companies will achieve the innovation and growth they need to compete long term. Many innovations fail because organizations are not up to the task or lack the strategic agility to do so. So many of the capabilities (resources, processes, and values) that previously made a company victorious eventually become its disabilities.
Success, including survival itself, requires innovation, and the business model should be built on this truth.
At the forefront of everyone’s thinking is how we can minimize stress in business operations with innovative thinking, resources, capabilities and technology solutions. By doing this, we are making our organizations even more resilient and enabling them to support the virtual workforce with increased efficiency as we face the monumental challenge ahead.
When assessing the business model, Frost and Sullivan suggest that CEO’s should focus on 10 growth areas (Frost & Sullivan, 2020):
- Investing in the future
- Building a strong growth pipeline
- Honing their competitive edge
- Strengthening customer relationships
- Embedding emerging tech into solutions
- Integrating new business models
- Enhancing brand position
- Evaluating and acting on new partners and inorganic growth
- Identifying and expanding into new geographic and other markets
- Accelerating digitization of the company and building the new AI-driven core
Look familiar? Probably. Although there may be some reprioritization, these actions haven’t changed because of COVID-19. “At least in terms of business models, the new normal going forward may be a lot more like the old normal than we think, says Nicholas Evans in a recent CIO.com article. (CIO.com, 2020) Evans continues to say, “That’s not to say there won’t be accelerated innovation and plenty of new business models, products and services appearing, but most businesses will likely be able to operate as usual with a few strategic pivots and changes to their standard processes as well as essential safeguards.” Now, more than ever, leaders must have a firm grasp on their models and the types of innovations and levers that can be pulled to adapt them – to tame the beastly forces acting outside the organization’s control (like coronavirus) and the many things under the firm control of managerial decision-making.
Reset Expectations and Strategies
While all companies have been in the “respond” phase that includes understanding the impact of the current crisis, it is critical that companies – even in this situation – look ahead and move from the impact analysis to growth strategy. Some organizations have stabilized and are beginning to operate in the current “new” normal. We need to reset our expectations and strategies for the next “new’ normal. Historically, companies with a focus on new growth not only emerge from crises like these but rebound and thrive.
In a May 15, 2020 article, McKinsey & Company describe “three mutually reinforcing areas that … are management imperatives in “normal” times. Right now, they are test beds for intense experimentation and soul searching, as they get to the core questions that organizations must always seek to answer for themselves: Who are we? How do we operate? How will we grow?” (McKinsey & Company, 2020)
Pandemic aside, 94% of CEOs stay growth is their #1 strategic imperative. As outlined in the RCG eBook, “Disruptive Growth: Is your organization truly capable in an AI-Driven World of Innovation?” (RCG, 2020), companies create value for their shareholders via profitable growth. Yet, prior to the current crisis, many CEOs forecasted lackluster periods of growth. Over half of US CEOs (62%) expected global growth to decline over the next 12 months.
Growth is increasingly difficult – especially for traditional and legacy organizations – and there are several forces that impede it. Some are easier to identify and address than others:
- New forms of competition including digital native companies that exist primarily or totally online
- Digitally native consumers who have grown up using computers and the internet
- Cross industry convergence where industry boundaries are moving to value experiences across industries
- Disruptive technologies that displace traditional technologies with ground-breaking solutions such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and 3D printing
- Transformative mega-trends that redefine the trajectory of global forces and impact economies, societies, cultures, personal lives, and businesses
- Value chain compression through automation as well as supplier and parts consolidation
- Geopolitical chaos including changing alliances, fluctuating positions of economic leaders, and challenges to global economies and health.
Specifically, COVID 19 is causing geopolitical chaos, which has put a huge magnifying lens on business model resilience and interconnectedness as well as digital capabilities and digital competence. In a recent Gartner webinar, VP Analyst Christopher Ross said that if your company is at all fragile in this highly charged environment you need to reevaluate your foundational strategy. (Gartner, 2020)
Resilient organizations are not myopic. Beginning the journey with the end in sight is critical, and that is why you begin with business goals at the forefront of your strategic plan – answer McKinsey & Companies questions: Who are we? And How do we Operate?
Understanding the current environment along with current capabilities and gaps is crucial, and this isn’t something most organizations should self-assess — an outside viewpoint can be quite enlightening. Now, more than ever, creating fast implementation cycles for selected priorities helps you quickly prove (or disprove) impact. Then you can scale the successful projects in a prioritized fashion.
Is Your Company Ready?
Where do you stand in reaching your digital ambitions? Are your company’s digital initiatives ready for the post-pandemic environment?
RCG collaborates with our customers to accelerate their digital journeys and realize measurable business outcomes with the goal of quick and sustainable results. RCG brings proven frameworks, accelerators, and expertise to each customer engagement and then tailor-fits the engagement to the client to create pride in ownership so that the resulting program and its effects will be their own and true to their values.
About the Authors
Dr. Rob Nelson
Rob’s industry experience includes healthcare, high-tech, not-for-profit, higher education, manufacturing, some financial services, and a variety of others. Rob has a proven record of establishing and implementing a full spectrum of initiatives that help organizations achieve performance transformation and deliver strategic, operational, and financial results that ensure market leadership. Dr. Nelson is also on the faculty at the Illinois Institute of Technology and the Jack Welch Management Institute, where he focuses on marketing, strategy, innovation, technology, and the new economy.
Rob holds a Doctor of Business Administration in Strategic Marketing from Grenoble Ecole de Management with particular expertise on the implementation of market orientation involving the transformation of organizations to deliver higher performance. His MBA in Strategic Marketing is from the Kellogg School of Management, and his BA in Political Science is from the University of Oklahoma. He holds certificates in Global Leadership and Strategy from the Thunderbird School of Global Management and is Pragmatic Marketing certified.
As CMO, Rachelle has worked with a diverse team across the company to evolve the RCG brand and market messaging to reflect the client impacts we focus on – realizing digital ambitions related to Customer Engagement; Workforce Enablement; and Operations Optimization. Rachelle is also responsible for our practices focused on Web and Mobile Development, Digital QA & Testing and Digital Sustainment capabilities. She represents more than 25 years of technical and management leadership experience. She has led multinational teams in a wide spectrum of application areas.
Since joining RCG in 2000, Rachelle has overseen both onshore and offshore solution implementations in a variety of industries. She also previously managed the strategic development of the e-Business strategy for Halliburton and was responsible for the company’s Internet and Intranet design, implementation, and operation. Rachelle earned her Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Houston.
1. CIO.com. (2020, April 20). Retrieved from https://www.cio.com/article/3536653/post-covid-19-business-models-finding-the-new-normal.html
2. Forrester. (2020, May 19). Retrieved from https://go.forrester.com/blogs/how-to-adjust-your-tech-budget-to-survive-or-thrive-in-the-pandemic-recession/
3. Frost & Sullivan. (2020, April 29). Retrieved from https://ww2.frost.com/event/calendar/key-growth-strategies-and-technologies-to-upgrade-your-customer-experience-amidst-the-pandemic/
4. McKinsey & Company. (2020, May 15). Retrieved from https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/reimagining-the-post-pandemic-organization
5. McKinsey & Company. (2020, May 18). Retrieved from https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/mckinsey-accelerate/our-insights/scaling-rapid-workforce-conversion-during-covid-19
6. RCG. (2020, January 2). Retrieved from https://rcgglobalservices.com/digital-resources/2020-digital-transformation-tips/
7. RCG. (2020, March 2). Retrieved from https://rcgglobalservices.com/digital-resources/achieving-disruptive-ai-driven-growth/