With Connected leadership, companies can respond to the rapidly changing world

Change is a constant in the business world, and its speed is increasing exponentially. New customer needs, technology and a changing competitive landscape: the coronavirus pandemic has kicked it up a notch. "Companies will only stay relevant if they transform their business and embrace digital transformation," explains Stéphanie Porteman, Belgium Lead Digital Transformation at KPMG. "And in doing so, the customer must always be at the center."

According to the KPMG 2021 CEO Outlook Pulse Survey, three quarters of companies have accelerated the digitization of operations and processes as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. "Organizations must evolve into a Connected Enterprise, taking a customer-centric and organization-wide approach to digital transformation," affirms Stéphanie. "Profitable growth starts and ends with the customer. In every process, function, and professional relationship, the central focus should always be on how to best meet your customer’s needs. Digital transformation is not just about technology. It's mainly about building the future of your company in the new digital reality."

Spider in the web

"Actually, we've been saying for years that the world is ever changing, uncertain, complex and ambiguous," says Stephanie. "And today, that reality is more acute and concrete than ever before. If you want to survive in an uncertain world, you have to be like a spider at the center of a web, capturing important signals from your market and making connections with all stakeholders who have an impact on your organization: your customers, suppliers, but also your employees and partners. Only then will you be able to adequately react to changes and steer your organization in the right direction. An organization is not an island – it’s part of an ecosystem. So, if you want to ensure a seamless, consistent, and positive interaction with your customer, you need to be connected to all your stakeholders."

"The main challenge is keeping up the pace of transformation and continuously adapting to changes in the market. The new consumer is digital savvy and embracing digital like never before. Many companies have made huge investments in innovation and improved customer support in the past year. During the pandemic, this was a necessary change for survival, but we certainly cannot go back to the way things were before, because customers are now used to new levels of service and interaction. Organizations must continue to focus on those two pillars, because customer expectations are evolving at lightspeed."

Outside-in

"A second important challenge: we need a new leadership style. Since you can't control everything, you need to develop a connected leadership to pick up signals, interpret them and deftly respond to them. This allows you to steer your organization in the right direction, especially since you don’t know what the world will look like in five years. A connected leader is someone whose main task is synergy: bringing people and departments together, engaging partners in the ecosystem, breaking down traditional silos and implementing a customer-centric culture everywhere. Inside the organization and outside."

To achieve that customer-centric culture, you have to think outside-in. To put yourself in the shoes of your customer. Only then can you be connected to what is happening externally. Also, analyze the driving forces in your market, the major evolutions, the disruptions. And once you've mapped all that out, you need to determine where you want to be in that playing field. Based on those insights, you can define your strategy according to what your customer wants: a perfect and consistent experience, from product to service, from front to back office."

An agile mindset

"You can't be a connected enterprise without an agile mindset. According to 67% of participants in the CEO Outlook Survey, agility is the new business currency. Because your customers are more demanding and connected than ever, you need to stay ahead of those rising expectations, so it's important to cultivate agility throughout your entire organization. That doesn't mean you have to abandon your strategy: you need a clear picture of where you want to go - eyes on the prize - and within that strategy you have to be able to respond agilely to changing customer needs and evolving market signals."

Digital transformation is all about people

"We often mistakenly assume that digital transformation is exclusively about technology. Of course it's about technology, but it’s even more so about people. You need an organization that adapts to change, a customer-centric culture that inspires employees to exceed customer expectations. That customer-centric culture and agile mindset are the two building blocks that determine success."

"Don’t get me wrong - technology has a fantastic power to transform companies and strengthen customer relationships. With technology, almost anything is possible. But, if you want to be successful with digital transformation, or with your strategy in a digital world, you first need a good understanding of your market, your customer and their needs. Otherwise, you can't fully harness the power of technology. A connected enterprise bridges the gap between strategy, goals, customer needs and the power of technology. Only when you connect all of that together can you truly harness technology for what it was intended: as a lever for optimal customer experiences.

Eight capabilities that make an impact

"KPMG has identified eight capabilities that increase the likelihood of a successful digital transformation. These capabilities are linked to each other and based on independent research by Forrester. According to that research, companies that have developed these competencies are twice as successful as others. Depending on your objectives, you can choose which competency to focus on first. If your technology architecture is not up to speed, this limits the level of service you can deliver to your customers. In which case, you should first focus on the 'Digitally-enabled technology architecture' capability, with an eye on your strategy and innovative mindset."

"Do you lack sufficient insight into how your company is performing? Then it's best to start with the 'Insight-driven strategies and actions' capability. That way, you can use data analysis to generate those specific insights that expose your pain points. Of course, you also need to have the right skills in-house to control, analyze and interpret the right data."

"By benchmarking yourself against other companies in your sector, you can better determine your priorities and get focus. Suppose your main objective is to attract and excite customers. Then you should choose 'Innovative products and services' as your next step. ‘Innovative’ doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to bring in new technology, it can also mean introducing new processes or ways of working. You have to continuously innovate to keep surprising the customer."

"The eight capabilities are always transversal and connected and form a canvas to grow your business with your customer as the focus. Consumers are placing more and more importance on trust: they are looking for companies that are reliable and share their own values. As a company, you need to exude that trust. This means setting a clear course and consistently aligning all your support functions accordingly. That's why it's important to get to work on your digital transformation now and develop a 'Connected Enterprise' mindset."

Eager for support to help navigate your transformation journey? Or would you simply like to learn more about the eight capabilities? Don’t hesitate to contact our experts for more information.