Tag Archives: operating model transformation

What Have We Learned About Digital Transformation?

What Have We Learned About Digital Transformation?

GUEST POST from Geoffrey A. Moore

We are well into our first decade of digital transformation, with both the successes and the scars to show for it, and we can see there is a long way to go. Realistically, there is probably never a finish line, so I think it is time for us to pause and take stock of what we have learned, and how best we can proceed from here. Here are three lessons to take to heart.

Lesson 1: There are three distinct levels of transformation, and operating model transformation is the one that deserves the most attention.

Geoffrey Moore Three Models

The least disruptive transformation is to the infrastructure model. This should be managed within the Productivity Zone, where to be fair, the disruption will be considerable, but it should not require much in the way of behavior change from the rest of the enterprise. Moving from data centers to cloud computing is a good example, as are enabling mobile applications and remote work centers. The goal here is to make employees more efficient while lowering total cost of IT ownership. These transformations are well underway, and there is little confusion about what next steps to take.

By contrast, the most disruptive transformation is to the business model. Here a company may be monetizing information derived from its operating model, as the SABRE system did for American Airlines, or overlaying a digital service on top of its core offering, as the automotive makers are seeking to do with in-car entertainment. The challenge here is that the economics of the new model have little in common with the core model, which creates repercussions both with internal systems and external ecosystem relationships. Few of these transformations to date can be said to be truly successful, and my view is they are more the exception than the rule.

The place where digital transformation is having its biggest impact is on the operating model. Virtually every sector of the economy is re-engineering its customer-facing processes to take advantage of ubiquitous mobile devices interacting with applications hosted in the cloud. These are making material changes to everyday interactions with customers and partners in the Performance Zone, where the priority is to improve effectiveness first, efficiency second. The challenge is to secure rapid, consistent, widespread adoption of the new systems from every employee who touches them. More than any other factor, this is the one that separates the winners from the losers in the digital transformation game.

Lesson 2: Re-engineer operating models from the outside in, not the inside out.

A major challenge that digital transformation at the operating model level must overcome is the inertial resistance of the existing operating model, especially where it is embedded in human behaviors. Simply put, people don’t like change. (Well, actually, they all want other people to change, just not themselves.) When we take the approach of internal improvement, things go way too slowly and eventually lose momentum altogether.

The winning approach is to focus on an external forcing function. For competition cultures, the battle cry should be, this new operating model poses an existential threat to our future. Our competitors are eating our lunch. We need to change, and we need to do it now! For collaboration cultures, the call to action should be, we are letting our customers down because we are too hard to do business with. They love our offers, but if we don’t modernize our operating model, they are going to take their business elsewhere. Besides, with this new digital model, we can make our offers even more effective. Let’s get going!

This is where design thinking comes in. Forget the sticky notes and lose the digital whiteboards. This is not about process. It is about walking a mile in the other person’s shoes, be that an end user, a technical buyer, a project sponsor, or an implementation partner, spending time seeing what hoops they have to go through to implement or use your products or simply to do business with you. No matter how good you were in the pre-digital era, there will be a ton of room for improvement, but it has to be focused on their friction issues, not yours. Work backward from their needs and problems, in other words, not forward from your intentions or desires.

Lesson 3: Digital transformations cannot be pushed. They must be pulled.

This is the hardest lesson to learn. Most executive teams have assumed that if they got the right digital transformation leader, gave them the title of Chief Transformation Officer, funded them properly, and insured that the project was on time, on spec, and on budget, that would do the trick. It makes total sense. It just doesn’t work.

The problem is one endemic to all business process re-engineering. The people whose behavior needs to change—and change radically—are the ones least comfortable with the program. When some outsider shows up with a new system, they can find any number of things wrong with it and use these objections to slow down deployment, redirect it into more familiar ways, and in general, diminish its impact. Mandating adoption can lead to reluctant engagement or even malicious compliance, and the larger the population of people involved, the more likely this is to occur.

So what does work? Transformations that are driven by the organization that has to transform. These start with the executive in charge who must galvanize the team to take up the challenge, to demand the digital transformation, and to insert it into every phase of its deployment. In other words, the transformation has to be pulled, not pushed.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There is still plenty of work on the push side involved, and that will require a strong leader. But at the end of the day, success will depend more on the leader of the consuming organization than that of the delivery team.

That’s what I think. What do you think?

Image Credit: Pexels, Geoffrey Moore

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to join 17,000+ leaders getting Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to their inbox every week.

3 Flavors of Product-Service Shift

Which One is Yours?

3 Flavors of Product-Service Shift

GUEST POST from Geoffrey A. Moore

The most profound change in enterprise computing in this century to date has been the shift in value delivery modality from product to service and the corresponding rise is XaaS or Everything-as-a-Service. The current bull market leaders in the tech sector take this for granted, and the prior generation of incumbents are still scrambling to get themselves onto the new model. For consumers this is an all-upside proposition; for enterprises, it is a balancing act of open fluidity versus secure compliance. But everyone seems to know their place in the new order—or do they?

As the product-service shift unfolds, it can manifest itself at three very different levels of value delivery, each of which has its own priorities. When you are looking to help your organization navigate the transition, it would be good to get clear as to which path you are on:

1. Infrastructure Model Transformation

This is the easiest to absorb, the impact for the most part contained on the vendor side within Finance and Legal and on the customer side within the IT organization itself. Basically, all you are doing is changing the contract from a license to a service level agreement, and staging a series of leasing payments out of op ex instead a one-time purchase out of cap ex. For clarity sake, think of this as a move to subscription, not yet to For most people in the organization, it is a non-event.

2. Operating Model Transformation

This move has the most impact on incumbent vendors and their installed base. As Todd Hewlin and J B Wood described in Consumption Economics, the shift is based on a change from the customer to the vendor as the one who must absorb goal attainment risk. In a product model, once the customer has bought and paid for it, the customer owns virtually all the risk. That can readily lead to a lot of drive-by selling, the sort of thing that built out empires of shelfware in the late 1990s. In a service model, by contrast, the vendor can never stop owning the success of the offering, not if they want to protect against their installed base churning out from underneath them. This is the true product-service shift, and even now it is sufficiently novel that both customers and vendors are still sorting out the implications for what staffing and expertise is needed on both sides of this relationship.

3. Business Model Transformation

This is the most impactful for venture-backed start-ups and the incumbent franchises they are looking to disrupt. Typically the former are re-architecting an established but aging value chain by substituting digital services for physical-world interactions. The biggest disruptions we have seen thus far are in retail, print media, financial services, transportation, hospitality, and communications, with lots more to come. They all represent daggers pointed at the heart of established enterprises because even when the latter can find ways to re-engineer their own offers to match the new paradigm, it is still painfully hard to bring the rest of their ecosystems up to speed to deliver the whole product. And to a lesser extent, the same goes for their customer bases. That is why disruption usually starts with targeting customers who have been disenfranchised by the old solution. It is only over time that the Innovator’s Dilemma bill comes to for the established vendors, but when it does, it hits with a wallop.

For most companies, the path you want to double-click on is the Operating Model Transformation, and in the next post, I want to dig in a lot deeper there.

That’s what I think. What do you think?

Image Credit: Pixabay

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to join 17,000+ leaders getting Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to their inbox every week.3