Articles Tagged with: Digital Transformation

It’s time to eliminate your IT dinosaurs and Jurassic processes

It’s time to eliminate your IT dinosaurs and Jurassic processes

James Rogers
Former VP Global Revenue | March 20, 2020


This is a vital moment for businesses large and small. As we find ourselves grappling with a harsh global reality, the time is now to bring together people and utilize the right tools to continue moving the business forward.

Unbelievably organisations aren’t just facing challenges from the inability to read & write emails from home, nor utilize widely accepted video conferencing mediums such as Zoom, Hangouts among others. The biggest challenge stems from within!

Now is the time to push the pedal on innovation and revenue model fortification efforts. You cannot maintain your strategies and existing resources in hopes of riding the tide. You need to eliminate that which is holding you back from being agile and innovative. Chances are it’s your set-in-their-way IT team.

It’s time to eliminate your IT dinosaurs and Jurassic processes

How often have you heard your IT managers and administrators tell you that a new tool, regardless of its capability to transform your day-to-day business and impact top line growth, is not feasible due to implementation challenges that range from integrations with legacy systems and data security? Have you also been told that it’s perhaps better to simply ‘build the tool internally’ than invest in something that’s commercial and off-the-shelf? If yes, then you are working with tech dinosaurs trying to justify their own existence. Period.

As industries become more dynamic, complex and heavily technology-driven, legacy processes and IT models do not cut it. “Build only” mentality rarely accommodates disruptive trends and, during particularly tumultuous times, lengthens your effective response time significantly. None of this is desirable. If your goals are ambitious and the times are fast-changing and challenging, you cannot hope to build solutions from scratch every single time. In fact, it is down right ridiculous to choose to build a solution when something tried-and-tested is available commercially and works to your agenda. Why are you willing waiting 6-18 months to deliver a halfway capable solution (that very likely won’t deliver on time) when you could be up and running in weeks?

When growth is halted by [IT] hesitation

Allow me to share our typical experience with S&Ps in Southeast Asia – a hotbed of hyper-growth and super-app leadership.

While seemingly tech-forward, many traditionally large enterprises here, across sectors like FSI, Insurance, and Telco, display restraint when it comes to showing SaaS leadership. At Perx, having worked with large scale enterprises all over Southeast Asia, we have realized that by and large, companies are holding back when it comes to SaaS adoption not because of the apprehensions of top management but because of the middle layer traditional IT (through which most department heads must go through) that continues to be anchored to the idea of on-premise, hosting solutions and internal archaic regulations.

It is easy to assume that mid-level IT exists only to ensure the status quo – day-to-day operations, work on business continuity and contribute to incremental change efforts. When in fact, they are critical change leaders and change drivers, especially in large setups.

When tasked with the challenge of driving digitalization efforts of scale, mid-layer IT, speaking anecdotally, often shows an aversion to integrating commercially available, battle-tested solutions and an acute preference, almost instinctive at times, for building tools internally and deploying on-premise.

We encounter these hesitations almost on a daily basis, even from companies who claim to be ‘SaaS’ savvy. They cite red herrings like security and poor server utilization as the reason for why they’d rather build than buy. And this is most typically at the recommendation of their IT hubris.

We get it.

Writing the big cheques for a new system is a big deal and must be done with due diligence but is the same due diligence given to what your existing set up is costing the business from moving forward?

Before even treading on that path, there needs to be a recognition of the fact that new-age innovative SaaS tools can add tremendous value to the company and fast. One of the things I always caution large enterprises about is that if they’re not adopting innovation and using innovative tools now to upgrade the way they do their business, it is guaranteed that another company, possibly a competition or a disruptive upstart, will take the lead in adopting new-age tech to capture markets quickly and eat into their revenues faster than their ability to play catch-up. This is just how it works today (and why Perx only works with challengers and innovators vs. traditional industry giants). Do you really think you are too big to fail? Haven’t we all learnt our lessons by now?

Sadly the IT hubris continues to play by the convention. This arm of the company, I have come to understand, is the most risk-averse entity in any company, when in fact it is possibly the only department that can take calculated risks for moving a company forward by advising on and investing in product trials and controlled experimentations of scale. Instead, when tasked with making an IT purchase, hardware is almost always at the top of the wishlist. Existing software renewals, server upgrades, storage and more such take another big portion of the budget. Little of whatever remains is then assigned to buying new projects, technology, and tools. And if it comes down to it, there’s that inherent bias towards investing in building in-house capabilities.

Building creates equity, but it’s not fast nor cheap

Somewhere between being enterprises that stored important business information on paper to computer systems, we welcomed the age of computing and IT. And with the emergence of SaaS, we ushered in the age of IT productivity.

Today, nearly 80% of all businesses in the world rely on some kind of SaaS stack to run their day-to-day functions and operations. And two of the biggest reasons for the widespread adoption of SaaS is the ease of service delivery and cost-effectiveness. Time and again it has been proven that good SaaS can quickly transform an organization’s systems to future state and help them achieve more in a short period of time. Yet, it seems organizations – typically large, conservative setups – even in this day and age find SaaS threatening.

We often hear from conservative companies that a new-age technology like AI is an indulgent risk. Alongside, a belief that runs deep-rooted is that traditional companies cannot (and perhaps should not) solve a problem – especially an old one – with a tech that is either too new or too complex. Then, there’s also a prevalent notion that SaaS is, by and large, costly no matter the area you are applying it to in addition to being insecure, unstable, difficult to customize and time-consuming to integrate. Which is why they’d rather prefer to build, not buy.

Yes. Rewards for getting it right are high, but the pitfalls of failure can drag these companies down far and deep. At this point in most conversations, we also ask these companies and their IT teams to consider the following:

It’s time to eliminate your IT dinosaurs and Jurassic processes

It’s a known fact that only about 34% of IT projects finish on time and run 45% over budget on an average, delivering nearly 56% less value than what set out to achieve. Keeping aside what’s lost in terms of productivity and motivations, the objective cost of a failed project is too high and therefore too risky.

Furthermore, when building from scratch, large companies often ignore not only the high cost of actual development and tool maintenance but also the opportunity cost of such efforts.

When dealing with the global, fast-changing, mobile markets, companies today need to be ready at all times for whatever the world throws at them. Imagine having to build a stable, functional martech tool in time to respond to a market disruptor? With the average CMO contract being 18 months, large cos cannot afford to deliberate internally on on-premise vs. SaaS or build vs. buy. Keep in mind that disruption often occurs around the edges and far from the line of sight. And consumer industries – retail, banking, insurance, utilities – are almost always more rife for disruption than any other. As mobile becomes more and more prevalent, consumer companies will want to quickly invest in new dimensions of scale and sophisticated strategies for growth, revenue and customer engagement. In these conditions, inaction will cause organizations across these sectors to become obsolete – as many as 75% of laggard S&Ps therein – within the next 10 years flat!

It’s time to eliminate your IT dinosaurs and Jurassic processes

Source: Accenture Research: Industry movements on current disruption and susceptibility to future disruption, 2011-2018

All of this points to a simple fact: Unless a large organization can get-to-market fast and effectively so, building a tool is almost always going to cost them and in more ways than imaginable.

It’s time to eliminate your IT dinosaurs and Jurassic processesSaaS and getting to a state of viability fast

Imagine if a company could simply pick a battle-tested tool, one that could be implemented fast and gives them the confidence in its ability to live up to staunch SLAs for performance and stability. Imagine having the ability to roll out the capability fast and in-time to tackle a new market reality, whichever way the wind blows.

This is what good SaaS does. Period.

SaaS creates a level playing field between a disruptor and an incumbent.

SaaS allows companies to add transformational value to their customers fast.

SaaS allows companies to respond to market changes in a timely and cost-effective manner.

When SaaS aligns with the digital transformation strategies and systems of an organization, it can become a source of extraordinary competitive advantage.

When aligned with digital transformation strategies and systems of an organization, especially in the face of disruption, SaaS ought to be a frontrunner in IT budget spend efforts. As per a Deloitte report, higher-maturity organizations are 3x more likely than lower-maturity organizations to report net profit margins and annual revenue growth by investing in digital initiatives this year.

As a SaaS platform leading the way in aiding digital transformation efforts, we want to champion IT departments and help them succeed, rather than focus on their shortcomings. Here, we understand as do our clients that the customer needs to be owned by the business, and not IT. Marketing and CX roles, for that matter, are in place to put experience and the centricity of the customer FIRST. This is not something that is lost on our customers, frankly, when they leave IT to have the last conversations. They understand that only if the business stands to truly benefit and reep the rewards of a new tech will they have any chance of getting the much needed and well guarded sign off of IT. The onus is then on the IT teams to take the decision on much the same lines, instead of trying to adhere to conventions and playing under known biases.

It’s time to ask: Is your IT team taking heed or are they keeping your digital transformation as tomorrow’s plan when it should have been yesterday’s execution?

——-

Over the past 90 days, we’ve been monitoring the digital revenues our large B2C clients have generated with the Perx Customer Engagement & Loyalty Platform. Even in this time when uncertainty and doubt fill the minds of the uninitiated, there has been a 50% increase in revenue and steady trajectory of MAU (Monthly Active Users) for our existing clients.

When the dust settles and a new economic reality is upon us, where will your business stand?

CUSTOMER SUCCESS STORIES

How startups are disrupting and innovating at a higher speed than large organizations

Responding to Disruption with Innovation

How startups are disrupting and innovating at a higher speed than large organizations in the loyalty management space

Responding to Disruption with Innovation – What did we Learn from Large Enterprises?

Amrith G
VP, Marketing | January 13, 2020


3 years, 7 nations, 25 large B2C clients and 50 million consumers later, if there’s one thing we’ve learned about big companies it is that across sectors and spectrums, most struggle with innovation.

It’s widely held that innovation is an obsession reserved for entrepreneurs and startup founders. In fact, in most large enterprises, having an innovation mindset is equated with having a rabble-rousing personality that’s likely to stir a stable system designed to uphold the delicate fabric of interlocked systems and stakeholders. Buy-ins happen for anything new – new tech, new people, new processes – to mesh into the grand tapestry of the enterprise. This is also what often culls, complicates, and significantly lengthens the time to select and implement anything innovative. And so, there’s an almost natural bias towards maintaining the status quo.

The problem arises when fresh-from-the-valley disruptors enter the field of play claimed by a large co with their striking innovations and new age propositions.

“With the explosion of internet companies, which is in part due to the ease of starting one in the present day and age (thanks to cloud infrastructure, business scaling technologies and enhanced connectivity of systems and people), ‘challengers’ are no longer an exception in any sector.”

Those that end up making a dent are almost always startups whose vision and value proposition not only improves but exceeds the set market conventions in one way or more, inevitably upending the status quo in their favor and away from an established big fish.

A startup that wins in an established market with legacy players is defined by one critical trait: they are exceptionally external-looking. Unlike a large enterprise, which tends to be internally focused, startups have little they need to preserve inside their realms. Turning their focus, innovative startups win by having an external bias, working with ample user data points, and focusing on iterative innovation. Plus, they put unprecedented emphasis building deeply personal and meaningful relationships with their customers in an effort at delighting them, retaining them, and driving positive unit economics.

Signalling a reckoning, the arrival of challengers in a market means an incumbent has very little choice other than to make a weighted move in the direction of innovation. Especially, if they hope to have any chance of surviving the turning of the tides.

Failing to respond: The paradox of choices

Responding to Disruption with InnovationRemember Sears? The once major american retail brand, which quite literally changed the way people shopped, Sears today is cash-starved and struggling to keep it’s less-than-1000 stores worldwide operational. Industry experts say that the biggest reason the incumbent stumbled to this low is that it failed to renovate its revenue model in the light of the advent of online shopping.

Disruption-caused casualties of similar size are common across industries – Airlines (AA) to telecom (RIM) to pharmaceuticals (Walgreens). These enterprises flatlined quicker than their ascent to great heights, as challengers in their category moved in fast and gradually accelerated changes in the existing system of checks and balances, causing near-permanent shifts in the way of market paradigm.

Over the years, we’ve learned that the pattern of downfall is near-alike.

1. Incumbents are late to realize that the status quo has changed

Innovation mindset is hard to develop for an enterprise set in its ways. Because it demands assuming that new can be better.

When, in fact, the kind of reflective innovation that needs to happen at the incumbent’s end can only happen when they attempt a peek into the future. But because large enterprises are inherently inward-looking biomes focused on maintaining the status quo irrespective of conditions outside, their peripheral vision captures too little too late.

One 6-decade old retailer we worked with recently found themselves on the brink of an inflection point and quite suddenly too, after realizing that new age consumer startups had chewed away close to half of their market just by replicating the company’s business model and making it heavily customer-oriented, unlike theirs, which was now rather shareholder-oriented. The signs were there all along – a challenger’s quick ascend to the limelight, VC validation, customers claiming superior service, and competitive price points – but the urge to resist was far stronger than the one to chart a response, especially since that would mean putting in question the entire business model and strategic choices that had been made up until then under tight scrutiny and causing shareholder tension. None of which is desirable.

2. Big players struggle with figuring out the right strategy fast

A company’s strategy, especially in the face of a major change – internal or external – plays a key role in determining the future of the establishment.

Resources, if deployed correctly, in a timely way, and at a desirable scale, yield revenue and profits. In many large companies, however, we’ve seen choice paralysis creep in when there’s change looming on the horizon. Often, given their size and scale, a large company almost always finds itself at crosshairs with various factions of the organization – product, accounting, supply chain, marketing, sales and more. Choosing a strategy fast, then, quickly turns into a game of tradeoffs.

A South-Asian financial services conglomerate we worked with a few years ago was struggling to choose the right way of leveling up with challengers in their category who were capturing their market through aggressive user acquisition strategies. The incumbent, a multi-billion dollar MNC, had a sizeable audience base but was unable to ascertain the best move to keep their long-standing customers. Their shareholders were on an edge about the declining profitability and playing on cost was out of the question. And to lead with innovation, just the thought of it, at a time when purse strings were tight and resources limited, felt nothing short of indulgent.

3. They find themselves having to make choices with no right answers

‘To buy or to build’ is the most common and the most difficult choice a large co must make when challenged to innovate.

Also given that this pressure comes with the need to develop fast and develop well (while keeping costs contained), a company of size often ends up spending a lot of time and energy trying to figure out the right ingredients and combinations thereof to become innovative.

However, in our experience, a sure-fire way large organizations can choose well is to choose the option which allows them to retain their focus on the winning parts of their business without straining or distracting resources.

At the end of the day, the effort to innovate is not meant to be a response to competition but an opportunity to become and stay relevant and meaningful to an end-user.

Lest they forget that they have the advantage of scale on their side, large companies fare well when they direct their energies to making stronger their customer-facing value proposition and refreshing their revenue models in the face of stiff competition and disruptive/restrictive trends.

Take for example one of our long-standing clients, a major multinational investment bank, who, while the 7th largest in the world, happened to be a challenger in one market. Faced with the challenge of measuring up to the gatekeepers of this new market and their conventional ways, the bank, unlike their competition, decided to put focus on stimulating customer engagement and loyalty-building campaigns.

At this point, they were not quite in a position to align their internal resources to build for this new market, and because the cost of opportunity lost was too high to ignore, they instead decided to work with Perx technology on this particular quest. This decision was consistent with their situation – it wouldn’t put a strain on their existing resources, keep the resources aligned to core parts of the business while enhancing their ability to create and take engaging, business-essential programs to market fast.

Using Perx to roll out a series of one-of-a-kind gamified customer engagement programs, this bank issued 2.5 million unique rewards over the course of a year that translated into not only highly engaged customers (more than 100,000 unique users were engaged in just under a month!) but also – for the first time – new revenue as a result of reward redemption. What’s more is that even after pausing this program for a few months, once the bank re-initiated rewards roll out, their engagement numbers picked up from where it was last and continued to chart its way north.

Remarkably enough, rolling out creatively designed and quickly executed rewards programs for their target market made the bank appear fresh, relevant and current, causing their customer engagement rate to go up from 3% to 99.8% overnight, while also significantly reducing their reward points debt.

What’s subtly underscored among all this is that at that moment instead of giving in to the anxiety that underlines most decisions related to buying and building capabilities, the bank chose well by choosing to focus on the core parts of the business and outsourcing everything else to someone with a clear competitive edge.

TL, DR

Responding to Disruption with Innovation

  • The circumstances are such that small and nimble startups, leading with innovation, are quickly shaking things up in a market bottom-up.
  • They displace established cos to the sidelines overnight and large enterprises can do very little other than to quickly organise tools (digital) and capabilities that help them respond to external market changes efficiently.
  • There’s an advantage in size and in having built and deployed systems and processes at scale.
  • In our experience, to fight a gatekeeper or to keep with the disruptors of the day, the best bet a large co can make – in the short term – is to buy the right tools to be able to engage the market effectively, go from insight to action fast, and win big.

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