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Digital latecomers can seize the day

Navjit Gill

Stripped to its essence and shorn of jargon, a well-defined digital strategy allows you to be closer to the customer. Digital initiatives are more a revenue play than a mere cost-optimization exercise. This is as true of a cloud initiative as of a CRM implementation, since the former should make the organization more agile in responding to customer needs.

Growth, profits, and, consequently, long-term shareholder value ostensibly drive corporate behavior. Unfortunately, conventional wisdom goes out the window in times of market pressure as sales start to get squeezed. Cost-cutting is a safer bet if you want the street on your side.

The current COVID-19 crisis is slowly showing the resiliency of digital-first organizations, and the challenge for most stragglers is two-fold: 1) how to prove out the growth as well as cost impact of an initiative, and 2) how to bring the organization along on the journey when clinical cost-reduction is the reflex for most C-suite execs.

Dealing with the first requires working with your broader partner and supplier ecosystem to emphasize counter-intuitive revenue and cost affects that can be expected from a digital initiative. Take the example of an analytics program on the cloud – you will need more than market benchmarks that focus on the revenue bump from, say, more dynamic forecasting using AI to prove out value. The value outcomes will need to emphasize the short-term cost savings (or, at the minimum, cost avoidance) that the cloud partner can help engineer.

Meeting the second challenge requires internal marketing. CDOs in slow-paced organizations were likely already struggling to get converts to the cause. Their task just became that much harder as they try to accelerate digital programs such as integration with online marketplaces. Luckily, two trends should help these digital evangelists make their pitch relevant to the times.

  • Data is emerging on the resiliency of organizations that embraced a digital mindset early, and analysts should soon be able to correlate last quarter’s earnings and future guidance to the maturity of internal digital programs.
  • The real possibility that more remote working is the new normal. All organizations will want to squeeze every ounce of productivity from digital communication and collaboration techniques. From there, it is a shorter leap of faith to realizing how business value is created in every digital customer journey.

This is the carpe diem moment for all believers struggling to make a mark in their organization.

Navjit Gill is a Strategy and Transformation expert and works at the confluence of business and technology for some of our biggest clients in North America. You can contact him at