It might come as a shock to some people in marketing to find that business transformation, or “business change” as I prefer to call it, is neither new nor driven solely by digital transformation initiatives. Indeed, research carried out by Freeform Dynamics back in 2011 could, in many respects, almost pass muster as hot off the analyst’s keyboard today.
That report showed that, then as now, many of the drivers of change were common across industry types, namely improving profitability and increasing staff efficiency. Naturally enough, reducing costs and retaining customers and gaining new ones also featured strongly across different types of business.
The similarities between a decade ago and now went even deeper, with a strong recognition that it was challenging to recognise when to trigger significant change. As the report said, “get it wrong and opportunities can be missed or unnecessary time, resource and money spent”. Today, this pressure, in particular, resonates even more strongly as businesses face rivalry from competitors old and very new.
The report went on to highlight that, rather than relying on major transformational changes, adopting a continuous improvement approach can be more effective to improve performance. This was also reflected in the recognition that high achievers were more likely to be taking advantage of IT to improve and automate business processes.
Workforce enablement is back on the agenda
It was especially interesting to see that those achieving the best business benefits were highlighting the importance of workforce enablement and creating the best working environments they could. This is an area that has had renewed focus over the last year or so, with the dramatic shift in working patterns forced on many by the pandemic.
So whilst many of the factors mentioned above continue to resonate in the enterprise world today, it is appropriate that the report had one final point to make concerning the biggest challenges faced by respondents in 2011.
Back then, as today, there was a lot of noise that “IT” and “The Business” needed to work together better, but the report’s results showed that disjoints and conflicts between different business units were far bigger barriers to change. Indeed, the biggest differentiator between high achievers and the rest was found in having a cultural willingness to change and try new things. Fail-fast has a long history.
If you have time for a bout of déjà vu, please take a look at the original report here.