In digital transformation, there’s a fine line between fearlessness and foolishness. Bad decisions can have all the trappings of a bold new strategy: a costly acquisition suddenly pivoting to an unexpected new product offering that’s an ambitious new vision for the future. Similarly, when consumer media hypes a new business model that will “disrupt” an industry, some leaders will see a shortcut to transformation — envisioning a bet with a big potential upside.
Fearless transformation takes careful, deliberate strategy, and it begins with customer obsession. By contrast, foolish transformation means chasing digital natives and gambling on the new, shiny trend. Digital itself isn’t a panacea for your business — and digital for digital’s sake almost never turns out well.
Digital business leaders need to develop the confidence — and skills — to transform fearlessly. It starts with identifying gaps in consumer experience and looking for ways to fix those, either internally or externally. There’s no shortage of innovative solutions that would improve customers’ experiences. However, true innovation requires testing and learning — and a laser focus on adding value for customers.
Years ago, Amazon identified order fulfillment as a critical component of customer experience that it could transform. Amazon tested Kiva before making the company its second-largest acquisition (at the time). Since then, Kiva’s robotic technology has helped Amazon set a new standard for delivery speed and has entirely reset shoppers’ expectations.
At Forrester’s Digital Transformation Forum in Chicago next week, I’ll speak about leading fearless digital innovation. I’ll have three retail industry veterans joining me to share their experiences and insight: Joan King from Crate and Barrel, Shweta Bhatia from Kohl’s, and Bill Kiss from Ace Hardware. We’ll discuss how their companies identified customer needs and transformed their strategy, culture, and technology to capture those opportunities.
See you next week in Chicago!