Digital Leaders' Playbook

Winners know how to win. When competition, data and/or rules change, so do their game plans.  Recently while watching NFL football, I was intrigued by a discussion between analyst about how the best coaches can change their strategies mid-game based on new and different data.  Some coaches are able to pivot, others can't.  

What follows is a list of key strategies, concepts and mindsets that will help your enterprise win:

  1. Information dominance - Historically military leaders gained power by capturing more land, castles, bridges, resources and important cities than their competitors. Today, winners can achieve information dominance by capturing more data, analyzing more data, and acting on more data than competitors.
  2. Combinatorial data - Data gathered from many different sources then combined and analyzed will provide unique insights into patterns, activities and behaviors invisible to competitors without those same combinations.  For example sharing police and insurance accident data with your intelligent car in advance so it can take extra precautions to protect you.
  3. Thinking time is precious - never has there been a good idea or innovation without thinking.  Build thinking time into all your schedules.  Learn how to foster thinking environments.
  4. Complexity is the enemy of agility, acts as poison from the past and will destroy your leaders.  Simplify to achieve speed and let leaders focus on customers, employees, high level doctrines and strategies rather than tactics. 
  5. Combinatorial technologies - Use existing technologies in new and different combinations to achieve results never before possible.  For example, we see the combining of sensors, AI, IoT, analytics, ML, etc, in vehicles to make autonomous self-driving cars.  All of these technologies already exist but combining them in unique ways enables unique capabilities.
  6. Blind spots are operational minefields - blind spots are areas of your business that are not visible or analyzed.  Employ the full inventory of data capturing technologies and systems - automated data capture, surveys, digitization, sensors and RPA (robotic process automation) to gain visibility, measure and improve.
  7. Speed to Reality - Understand what is real as fast as possible.  Guessing, modeling, forecasting, conjecture etc., has value, but knowing truth is better.  Visibility into what is real enables actions to be taken efficiently based on fact.
  8. Win in Future time - Humans have a circadian biological clock that dictates when they need to eat, sleep and work. Humans need sleep. Computers work in digital time - the time it takes a computer system and network to complete a task. Computers don't sleep.  Future time is when analytics are used to predict the future, so value can be realized today. For example, predictive analytics can guide you to buy specific supplies and manufacturer specific products today for future sales. The better predictive analytics become about understanding the future, the more value can be harvested from it today.
  9. Agility - Digital winners automate decision-making where possible and execute changes faster than their competition.  Winners have the agility to quickly align with evolving customer behaviors and desires faster than their competition.
  10. Optimized Information Logistics Systems (OILS) -  Friction in data movement because of antiquated business processes, approval systems and technologies must be removed to support real-time digital interactions with customers. Winners combine more sources of real-time data to optimize customer experiences.
  11. Elevate experiences - In the experience economy recognize that advantages in UX (user experience), personalization, speed, operational tempos, process automation, analytics and information logistics are massive competitive advantages.  Digital winners really understand what their customers want.  As a result, they utilize the right philosophies, designs, systems, technologies and business processes to provide it.
  12. Relativistic Competition  - The speed a competitor is either moving ahead or falling behind you in competition. This must be understood in order to successfully prioritize investments and resources.
  13. Transformative Energy Units (TEUs) - A unit of energy an organization spends on making changes.  All change takes TEUs.  Too much change in too short a period of time will exhaust all available TEUs and change will be impossible.  All activities either increase or decrease TEUs and knowing how much is available to work with is essential.
  14. Ax2 - Advantages lead to more advantages (Ax2) - When you have the advantage of being out front with new innovations, products, processes, business models, experiences, etc., you are able to collect and analyze data not yet available to your competitors. As a result you can make decisions and take actions competitors cannot yet anticipate or understand.  Advantages lead to new advantages (Ax2).
  15. Performance Impact Variables (PIVs) - PIVs (location, time, activities, relationships, patterns) are all the data points that can be used as inputs to optimize and manage the performance of the business in real-time.  3D is not sufficient to understanding the world.
  16. Competitive Ecosystems - As digital interactions and business dependencies increase within ecosystems they will in themselves become a competitive differentiator. For an ecosystem to compete they will need to integrate tighter, share more data, support more APIs, provide more visibility and transparency into business processes and operate in near real-time.  Digital winners recognize the need for participating in winning ecosystems.  A business' ecosystem of technology and services partners, contractors and supply chains can offer an aggregated value beyond just their own narrow capabilities. 
  17. Help or Hinder (HoH) - It is important to recognize what parts of your business are helping or hindering your ability to compete.  In every strategy session ask the question, "Does it HoH our ability to achieve our goals and objectives?"  If something is hindering it, remove or replace it as soon as possible.  Understand the full opportunity costs incurred by keeping "hindering" leadership, systems or processes in place.
  18. Vendor Agility - Select vendors that help you capture competitive advantages.  Don't select vendors that limit your ability to innovate or be agile today or in the future.  Many an organization has failed as a result of poor vendor selections that limited their future opportunities.
  19. Data Shelf Life - The economic value of data diminishes quickly over time, so understand the shelf life of each segment of data and maximize its business value.
  20. Customer Knowledge - Digital winners know how to provide the desired experiences, products and services at the right convenience and price level.  How do they know?  They find a thousand different ways to ask.
  21. Speed to Action (STA/OODA) - Winners won't require a long series of mind numbing meetings to respond to new data.  They have game plans already drawn for different scenarios.  They have frameworks to respond in advance of receiving new data.
  22. Human-Robot Pairing - Increasingly organizations must determine what tasks are best performed by humans, and what tasks are best performed by RPA (robotic process automation) and other AI systems.
  23. Social responsibility as an advantage - Employees and customers are increasingly making decisions to spend their time and money with brands that represent inspiring values, ethics and social responsibility.  That means brands should be always looking to organize and create inspiration from within their own ecosystems and supply chains.
  24. Loyalty and customer success as a competitive advantage - As privacy laws increasingly restrict traditional marketing operations, keeping your current customers happy, engaged and loyal is increasingly important.  Understand how to use operational and experience data to measure, personalize and automate customer success operations.
  25. Digital Friendly Business Models - Many companies are still wrestling with legacy business models, processes and compensation plans that prevent, slow-down or limit new digital friendly low cost subscription models available from competitors.  Businesses must quickly offer versions of their solutions that can compete in this environments or they will lose.
  26. Digital transformation doctrine (DTD) - An organization’s DTD must be capable of leading them successfully through massive and accelerating changes.  An organization’s DTD should influence all of their strategies, how they operate and the tactics they employ to compete.

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Interviews with Kevin Benedict