"How's our digital strategy doing?" A question that is easy to ask but difficult to answer.
It's no secret that many organisations, especially large enterprises, have faced challenges in transitioning to the digital world.
Staying on the cutting edge of technological advancements is tough, and defining a solid digital strategy is even harder. Nevertheless, companies like MassMutual are not only proving the viability of executing digital transformation on a large scale, but they are also demonstrating that it's essential for remaining competitive in 2023 and beyond.
CEO of MassMutual, Roger Crandall, says:
“Our “aha” moment was realizing that we needed to build an entire digital insurance company.”
In this article, we’ll delve into how companies like this one successfully achieved their digital transformation goals, how to find your “aha” moment, and why the guidance of a digital strategy consultant can instil confidence and yield positive results throughout the journey.
Keeping up with the future…
No matter what sector you work in, from retail to finance, you’ve no doubt been swept up in fervent internal conversations around digital strategy. Positive affirmations for tech are everywhere.
Today, we’ve become accustomed to seeing advertisements on public transport about automating workflows to make project management easier, reading Forbes articles claiming that AI chatbots are a necessity, and receiving sponsored ads for smart trackers on customer acquisitions.
It’s easy on both a personal and professional level to experience a degree of tech fatigue, as well as anxiety that you aren’t investing in enough innovative programmes and tools.
But equally, we know that technology is important for growth and for staying competitive. That’s why 96.2% of organisations are investing in “Increased adoption of new and frontier technologies” in a bid to drive transformation - as shown by the Future of Jobs Survey 2023.
In the chart below, you can see the macrotrends driving business transformation, with the associated percentage representing how likely organisations are to adopt a particular trend.
The graph shows that the second priority to organisations also falls within the digital sphere, with 86.1% interested in “Broadening digital access”.
Within the same report, data revealed what type of digital change organisations were expecting to invest in during the next five years. The survey concluded that a huge 86.4% were looking into their digital platforms and apps, while climate-specific technologies were also in the top 10 priorities.
The top 10 most likely technologies that organisations will invest in (2023-2027)
Digital platforms and apps (86.4%)
Education and workforce development technologies (80.9%)
Big-data analytics (80%)
Internet of Things and connected devices (76.8%)
Cloud computing (76.6%)
Encryption and cybersecurity (75.6%)
E-commerce and digital trade (75.3%)
Artificial intelligence (74.9%)
Environmental management technologies (64.5%)
Climate-change mitigation technology (62.8%)
So, how can organisations manage the convoluted tech shelves and align their corporate goals with the appropriate digital tools?
The digital strategy consultant argument
Do you want to increase your profit by 10% in the next two years? Sustain fifty more employees? Build sector dominance? Your digital goals need to align with your corporate strategy, or you’ll fuel confusion with misaligned and even redundant metrics.
Of course, you’ll also need to consider what tools are most appropriate for different departments; your marketing team might need text and image processing tools, and your sales team might need AI to summarise client briefs.
And then your goals and vision come into play. Are you trying to become carbon neutral? In that case, you might need sophisticated CO2 trackers for your supply chain.
Digital strategy involves lots of different stakeholders, departments, and expertise. In many cases, it’s useful to have one person to align all of these variables: a Digital Strategy Consultant.
A digital strategy consultant helps organisations to leverage digital technologies to achieve their goals. They do this by assessing the current digital landscape, developing strategies, and providing guidance in areas such as content, marketing, data analytics, and customer experience.
Consultants also address risks, offer training, and continually improve strategies while staying updated on digital trends. Their goal is to help clients to succeed in the digital age.
Be bold and innovative
Know when to optimise, not just create
Invest in exciting talent
We explore more of these benefits below.
1) Be bold and innovative
Innovation is a core determiner of business resilience. And strategic innovation does more than respond to the current world; it predicts a need for the future.
Ian Bremmer, political scientist and strategic thinker, summarises it as below:
“The world changes so quickly, and yet people don’t revisit their worldview nearly as quickly as the world changes.”
A consultant’s job is to consistently refresh their worldview, taking the burden from you. They can conduct data analysis, organise innovation workshops, and emphasise user-centric design. Consultants play a pivotal role in helping organisations stay competitive and adaptable in today's digital landscape by fostering innovation across various facets of their operations.
One good example of digital innovation over the last few years is MassMutual.
How MassMutual is adopting new technologies
Few companies can boast a lifespan of 172 years, but the Massachusetts-based life insurance company MassMutual has done just that.
Innovation is often at the heart of longevity. And throughout the years, the company has navigated various digital transformation initiatives, earning a reputation as trailblazers or ‘disrupters’ in the insurance industry. In an interview with McKinsey, MassMutual's CEO, Roger Crandall, articulated their journey, stating:
“...we had been making investments to build a fully digital insurance company from the first interaction with a client through a machine learning–driven underwriting model, through policy administration, and ultimately to paying the claim.”
By building digital programs around the integration of AI into voice experience and automating less complex customer service inquiries, the company maintains their competitive advantage.
Operating a digital team, which includes many digital consultants, helps. And with total sales of $39.3 billion in 2022 (an annual increase of 26%), the margins speak for themselves.
2) Know when to optimise, not just create
Sometimes, digital change is less about adopting the newest technologies and more about improving the systems you already have. Context is everything, and you have to consider the relevancy and cost of digital change.
Equally, modernising isn’t always an obvious solution, especially when you are comfortable or accustomed to particular systems and tools; sometimes, having a third-party perspective can provide needed clarity.
Digital consultants minimise waste by optimising processes, automating tasks, and leveraging digital solutions. They employ data-driven decision-making, reduce energy and resource consumption, and promote paperless workflows. Strategies might include cloud migration, supply chain efficiency, and inventory management.
Consultants also improve marketing targeting and enhance collaboration. The goal is to enhance efficiency, reduce costs, and minimise environmental impact.
3) Invest in exciting tech startups
Acquisition as an innovation strategy can be effective if executed thoughtfully.
It offers access to new technology and talent, accelerates growth, and can disrupt markets. For large organisations that don’t have an innovation department, acquiring can give you:
External expertise that might not exist in-house
Speed; as startups are typically smaller, more agile, and less burdened by bureaucratic processes
Risk mitigation as ideation and testing happens externally
Talent attraction for those who are looking for a more modern company
Market edge, especially if the product isn’t already being used by competitors
However, challenges in integrating different cultures and processes can hinder innovation. Financial risks and the need for a strategic fit should be considered.
This is where a digital consultant comes in. They can aid in acquisitions by conducting digital due diligence, data analysis, and tech stack assessments.
Consultants also facilitate the integration of digital marketing, websites, apps, and e-commerce, optimising digital assets and operations. They’ll be more comfortable with change management, and because of this, they’ll offer expertise on the alignment of digital strategies, compliance with data regulations, and online reputation management.
Final thoughts on digital strategy consultants
Digital transformation is a strategic imperative for businesses wanting to remain resilient in the face of turbulent economic conditions - the past five years have given us evidence of this.
But it’s not only about survival; optimising your digital landscape can be an exciting and optimistic period of business growth. Utilising innovative tools gives both businesses and consumers a glimpse into the future.
So, if you are considering a transformation and want objective assurance on the risks and rewards of digitalising, need creative ideas on which business areas would benefit most and give insight into the most effective strategy moving forward, consider a Digital Strategy Consultant.
Stay in the know - access our Digital Disrupters article below.