This article was written by Pankaj Kohli.
The current pandemic has reinforced the need for transformation across different industry verticals. Some companies have had to change track quickly to remain relevant, and some have found that they need to pivot to an entirely new business model to overcome the overall crisis. For example, industries like retail have found that their customers are naturally migrating to “digital-first,” so they need to keep up or perish.
According to HFS and KPMG research, “No matter what the path to recovery looks like, the financial and social impacts of the pandemic are driving a massive shift in business priorities and objectives. Furthermore, these are accelerating the transformation to digital business and operating models that are essential for long-term growth and margin improvement.”
Whatever the reason, there is a wave of transformation sweeping over every industry globally, but I have not read much about a change in approach. There is a lot of noise about the importance of digital transformation. However, most executives are still looking at transformation projects as work programs that can be planned far into the future. In a recent survey, 59% of the executives interviewed said that the pandemic had created an impetus to accelerate their digital transformation initiatives. I believe that we need to examine why and how different companies are exploring transformation and the methodology being used.
In a recent seminar, I was intrigued by the concept of “Real-Time Transformation” by Scott Klein, the President of Specialized Services at Teleperformance. He explained the need for regular touchpoints to assess outcomes and adherence to the projected roadmap. He went on to say that such touchpoints should ideally be on a 30-day review cycle, something unheard of on large-scale strategic projects. On further introspection, I realized that he was trying to achieve two outcomes — to course-correct as soon as possible if the original plan does not yield the desired results and eliminate any complacency, which is typical for projects with long gestation periods.
Management consultants like to talk about a “future state”— the result of a transformation program or the time when a business will be in great shape. It’s always somewhere off in the distant future. I believe this type of change is now dated and unsuitable in a post-COVID-19 business environment. The only way to handle uncertainty in a constantly changing business environment is to create a new state for your business, where transformation occurs in real-time and is jointly powered by the three tenets of technology, analytics, and process excellence.
However, this must not be confused with “agile” or “scrum” (as in the software development methodology). Although similar in a few areas, real-time transformation requires a cultural shift in the organizational mindset and is not limited to product development. Embrace real-time transformation and remove traditional internal bureaucracies if you truly want your business to succeed in the new normal.
About the author
Pankaj is the Chief Transformation Officer for Teleperformance CEMEA. He has dual masters in Computer Science & Management and is a Six Sigma Blackbelt, with keen interest in Analytics and Design Thinking.