Global Vice President, Digital Transformation,
Frost & Sullivan
Frost & Sullivan hosted an eye-opening, thought provoking, and fun event in San Diego – Growth, Innovation and Leadership 2018. I often heard people at my table say, “wow!,” or some iteration of that word during presentations. We had thought leaders who engaged the audience at every session. Participants dove into the ice breakers with great energy, which stayed with them throughout the event. As a result, they were able to find new partners, suppliers, customers, and, make some friends along the way.
This insight will give you the key takeaways from the sessions. Attendees at this event sought to learn about the best digital transformation practices – everything from implementation of the latest technologies, to customer retention and acquisition tactics, to employee happiness. Attendees learned how to disrupt their traditional thinking, discover best practices, and take back new strategies to survive and thrive over the next five years. The last ten years proved that anything can happen with an effective business model, emerging technologies, and the right people. The next wave of technology change has already begun, and the time for change in any business is now.
Be Innovative Now to Be Ready for the Next Smartphone Moment
We heard Nagraj Kashyap of Microsoft use the term “Smartphone Moment.” This is the time when a technology, like the smartphone, becomes a key part of your life. When will artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and self-driving cars become integrated into our everyday lives? We heard quite a few people use the five year mark. How do these technologies impact your company and is your company ready to make changes today to be ready 5 years from now?
A big part of digital transformation is network security and balancing the convenience versus privacy. Rodney Davenport of Alliance Data said, “GDPR certainly got everybody’s attention, and every company needs to understand what it is, and what it could mean. Privacy is a huge concern, and I hope we’ll be able to navigate it properly.”
According to Mary Beth Navarra-Sirio of Phillips, “it’s the same with healthcare; no one wants their healthcare information out there, until they’re in the ER in another city and need their health data right there, right then.”
Make Emotional Connections
In a world of digital communications, social media, and one that is moving towards robotics and artificial intelligence, human nature requires us to seek emotional connections. It’s in our DNA.
Cate Gutowski of Panasonic Avionics spoke about making a deeper emotional connection with customers to improve customer experience, even in business-to-business companies. We also heard about targeting customers based on consumer behavior and their environment vs. demographics. As we all try to wrap our heads around the tremendous amount of big data, and the analytics we will need it to mine it for useful information, it seems we need to get back to the basics of selling in the olden days.
Consumers are no longer always followers of the biggest designers or the latest trends. In particular, the newest set of buyers tends to seek merchandise that suits their style, or customized technologies that addresses their unmet needs. Amazon is an example of a company that makes suggestions based on personal preferences, perpetually moving their customers into new, more defined buckets as data reveals more information about them.
Create Diversity in the Workforce
Alex Goryachev of Cisco said “no single company can do it alone. Who on your team can help you to get funding?” We all know diversity in the workforce could be crucial for success in the future. Frost and Sullivan implemented an initiative called GLOW (Growth and Leadership of Women). One of the greatest challenges for many companies is finding enough qualified workers that meets the diverse team requirement.
Changing the way kids are being educated is critical. Rote learning, teaching to the test, and other traditional techniques need to be replaced with collaboration and creative thinking. High schools and colleges are gearing up to train students for future careers, rather than ones that will soon be obsolete. Artificial intelligence will not replace people’s jobs if we plan for its inevitable existence, but rather, it will enhance people’s jobs so they can find joy in them.
Navarra-Sirio gave us a great example of this concept. “From a provider perspective, innovation can seem scary; they think ‘am I going to lose my job to a robot?’ So we’re looking at how can we develop technologies that support the professionals, take away some of the process burdens, and enable them to better do what it is that they do – interfacing with patients.”
Encouragement of a diverse culture needs to come from the top. Lori Heino-Royer of Daimler Trucks said “At Daimler, there is a manager that focuses on diversity and innovation and executive compensation is tied to diversity and inclusion.”
Navarra-Sirio also said “we have to think globally about the product and services that we’re launching, so we depend on a diverse organization in order to deliver that. I also think about diversity from an age perspective – some of my best teams are diverse in age, not just gender and ethnicity, which is extremely helpful for evaluating market segmentation and use case.”
Developing a Happy Employee Staff
We often hear about how happy employees have a big impact on customer satisfaction and retention. Zappos is an example of a company that focused on creating a joyful work environment and empowering its employees. As a result, the company has a huge customer following; whenever problems arise, they are quickly handled in a cheerful way.
Heino- Royer said, “employees need to feel inspired, and that will lead to more happiness. So figuring out how to inspire employees is key.”
Davenport said, “when people have a purpose and a passion for what they’re doing, and when companies have a priority for enabling that, it’s going to be a good thing.”
Krishna Srinivasan kicked off the event by saying “innovate today for what customers will need tomorrow, but don’t ask them, because they don’t [always] know what they need tomorrow. “ We also heard Google’s Evren Eryurek say “go ahead and innovate; worry about making money later.” How does your company feel about taking risks? And what do you think you can do to inspire your executive team to try new things?
We help clients assess their risks by forecasting market growth, providing a competitive analysis, and working with them using tools on a custom basis. Within our company, we take risks by being first to market to conduct research on up and coming technologies, ones that may or may not become successful. Our consultants are able to take these risks because messaging from the top allows them to try and fail if we learn quickly and move out. It’s the Silicon Valley motto.
Put Customers First is Still the Best Motto
In the end, listening to customers is still important, even if they do not always know what they want. It’s true that 20 years ago, we didn’t know we needed a phone that would also be our camera, video conference system, game console, fitness tracker, newspaper/news show, video entertainment, shopping mechanism, flashlight, and, of course, our social life. Still, in this incredibly fast-paced and competitive world, customers expect quick delivery of products and services in their own personal way.
This May marks my 22th year with Frost & Sullivan. Being part of a fast-growing company and dynamic industry, an entrepreneurial culture, and a fun environment is invigorating and worth every moment. My professional and volunteer experience includes business and strategy planning, product and vertical market analysis, growth consulting, event planning and execution, sales and marketing, web design, and most importantly, creating and inspiring teams to be best in class. Consulting projects have ranged from strategy development to white papers to end user analyses. My focus now is to guide visionary CXOs and IT leaders through the next era of digital transformation with the help of a IT experts and analysts across all industries. Prior to joining Frost and Sullivan, I worked for Smith Barney for 5 years in its accounting division handling incentive compensation plans. In this position I was responsible, from an accounting and payroll perspective, for the capital accumulation and deferred compensation plans of top management and account executives. Thereafter, I worked as an account executive at Edward Jones, a brokerage company for approximately one year. In these positions, I learned much about the operations of a financial company, financial instruments, and sales techniques.