Even before the pandemic, business decision-makers were looking for new and unique ways to achieve growth in an increasingly connected, rapidly changing, unpredictable and complex business environment. The current global crisis intensifies the need for businesses to cooperate with each other more broadly and develop new business models to stay in the game.
Enterprise innovation is moving beyond the walls of an organization as the “OneEcosystem” emerges, where like-minded organizations with common objectives collaborate to find entirely new sources of value. We introduced the concept of the “OneEcosystem” earlier this year (read here), and now we are double-clicking on it:
“OneOffice” is the core of the “OneEcosystem” as people and culture even trump technology in today’s talent-starved environment
While “digital transformation” focuses on resolving (often) decades of technology debt, the OneOffice mindset (end-to-end organizational alignment across the front, middle, and back offices to drive a great stakeholder experience) allows enterprise leaders to manage the ballooning talent and process debt that continues to be overlooked by many. It is one thing to invest in the shiny new tech, but if you fail to bring your people together with shared goals and incentives, motivated by a common set of values and mission, you will struggle to survive in today’s business environment. The pendulum has swung firmly towards talent and culture over technology in most organizations that are hurrying into this new future.
The clearest barometer that shows the major changes facing Global 2000 enterprises over the next 12-18 months (see below) are the clear priorities to develop “Digitally Fluent” workforces to be best equipped to function effectively in the cloud.
Digital Fluency describes the ability to drive the seamless interplay between business and technology:
- Ability to translate the understanding of digital tools to create new ways to serve customers’ needs and drive value;
- Ability to consider how digital technology will impact every aspect, every functional area of the organization;
- Ability to examine the organization’s business model, strategy, and operations in the context of digital technology.
Enterprise Success = CX + EX + PX
In our obsession to deliver the best CX in pre-pandemic days, we ignored EX, and the current talent retention predicament which is creating unprecedented challenges to keeping many enterprises functioning. Hopefully, the “Great Resignation” has already become the burning platform in 2022 to resolve our talent equation as enterprise leaders. But we are still missing an important stakeholder – the PX (Partner Experience). No-one-can-be-everything-to-anyone and the OneEcosystem brings our partners to the forefront, along with customers and employees.
Enterprise innovation is also defined at the intersection of Customers, Employees, and Partners.
- Supply chain (or supply network) innovations such as servitization of manufacturing or direct-to-consumer in CPG are increasingly aimed at getting closer to the customers to deliver unmatched CX.
- Enterprise processes need to be designed around employees as well as enterprise partnerships with hyperscalers, SaaS vendors, IT and business service providers.
- The ability for employees to not only react but anticipate Customer expectations is the key to driving product / service innovation
“Data-as-an-asset” is the OneEcosystem strategy and rapid technological innovation is making it a reality
The scalability, flexibility, and faster speed-to-market promised by a hybrid cloud and edge computing environment is allowing enterprises to get a handle on their large underlying data-sets that previously required huge investments in storage and servers. Machine Learning (ML) and more advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms allow enterprises to make sense of their humongous data-sets that makes humans far more efficient, drive data-based decisions, and enable autonomous processes. The emergence of blockchains is starting to make the vision of OneEcosystem a reality by enabling distributed and trustworthy information. Blockchain’s “six-pack” makes it an attractive ecosystem technology – distributed shared data, automated smart contracts, hash-based cryptography, consensus-driven trust, permissioned and permissionless options, and immutable transactions. Ubiquitous connectivity from 5G with much faster speed and lower latency allows for the creation of virtual networks where large amounts of data can be shared at real-time speed. The exciting emergence of Web 3.0 will allow further allow decentralization of data.
Don’t forget culture and mindset
The pandemic has further exacerbated the need for ecosystems. The escalating global crisis requires us to cooperate with each other and develop new models that enable us to succeed as a society. Post the pandemic shock, the individualistic capitalist economy (where shareholder value supersedes stakeholder value) is also starting to get questioned. People want to partner with (or work for) organizations that have a purpose beyond profit, whether it’s aligned to philanthropic goals and/or highly invested in sustainability or diversity or other purposes.
Organizations must be designed to develop a sense of community
Organizations will become more networked (decentralized and flexible where managers coordinate both internal and external relationships), matrixed (where people with similar skills are pooled together, resulting in more than one manager), and flatter (eliminating many levels of middle management). Finding common ground and designing shared goals and incentives for all partners are critical success factors to establish the OneEcosystem.
The Chief Executive Officer should be the leader who drives the infinite mindset across the organization and its ecosystem
He/she must continuously define the purpose for the organization and relentlessly drive a fearless collaborative culture that values stakeholder value beyond shareholder value. As a leader, it’s so easy to obsess with operational functions of the business during times of disruption or distress – in this case, a global pandemic – that it can create knee-jerk, often short-term decisions that could inherently damage your long-term vision, your business’ culture and your raison d’être. With no defined time horizon, no clearly-defined rules, and with players that may enter and exit at any time, the primary objective of an infinite game is quite simply to keep playing. The goal for businesses is to have the will and resources to stay in the game, through thick and thin.
Having lived and worked through four recessions, we understand the rapid change in leadership mindset that can occur when a firm goes from peacetime and growth to one of survival and all-out war. According to author Simon Sinek, people look to leadership to serve and protect, to “set up their organizations to succeed beyond their lifetimes.” But in the modern landscape, most organizations place an unbalanced focus on near-term results that may ultimately prove to be self-defeating, like casting aside your umbrella in a storm because you haven’t been getting wet. In short, business is no finite endeavor. This pandemic lays plain for all to see the game we are really playing.
The CEO is the ultimate collaborator, forcing the change that is needed and balancing the desires of the various stakeholders (the board, key clients, key partners, the employees). His/her team to make this happen must be responsible for the full gamut of their customers, employees, and partners, working with a transformational wizard to bring together the process and technology with the real innovation ingredient: the people.
The Chief Transformation Officer must link front to back office and ensure processes run smoothly across functions to deliver the data/outcomes the organization needs
This should ideally be someone who understands the challenges of enterprise operations, and how to align them with the market facing/client impact areas of the firm. Forget the old GBS head / shared services head role, as this just has repeatedly failed to get out of the transactional back-office world and the “finance factory”. This person must oversee both technology and operations, understand the value of automation and AI, be able to design and implement change programs and work closely with the employee experience leader to eliminate the back office mindset from antiquated business functions into one that is aligned with the direction of the business.
The Chief Customer Experience Officer lives and breathes the world of the customers and obsesses with how to engage them as effectively as possible – right across the entire customer life-cycle
This ideally is someone who understands how to design customer interfaces, how to service customer needs leveraging both digital tools and physical support and ensuring the entire employee base is unified around (and incentivized on) driving customer impact. In addition, the CCXO must ensure the marketing mindset is to communicate with the customer, educate the customer, and to develop specific programs that have a real impact on driving customer engagement and business growth.
The Chief Employee Experience Officer is responsible for making the company a great, energizing place to work, where staff of all backgrounds, ages, experience levels cultures are energized by the values and desired outcomes of the firm
This individual must be the person who can manage the expectations of the board, the CEO, the shareholders to create a company culture and values that everyone believes in. Moreover, the CEXO must be intimately involved in the creation and execution of training programs across the firm to attract talent who want to work for a company that will develop them, as well as establishing a culture and values they can identify with. This should ideally be a strong leader with broad experience of the business and staff development, who knows what it takes to be successful, and who understands how to motivate people beyond pure compensation. The best leaders today are also great people managers – and the CEXO role must be at the core of the business leadership, not some ancillary executive painting lip service and not having any real impact.
Chief Partner Experience Officer must become a prominent leader in the OneEcosystem organization
As the OneEcosystem environment evolves, the need to collaborate with entities with common objectives, across the entire customer value chain, has never been so prominent. Net-net, your partners are no longer just your suppliers. Suppliers are essential partners to deliver your goods/services, but the OneEcosystem looks at the collective organizations more holistically, where they play critical roles in providing the customer experience across the entire customer lifecycle.
Bottom line: EcoSystem is not some sci-fi movie. It is happening right now.
Building a successful ecosystem strategy is challenging. Creating the elusive network effect is not easy. Then there are regulatory and compliance issues, fear of the loss of proprietary information, and concern over the ability of competitors to cooperate. However, these challenges are not insurmountable if there is a business case, shared goals, and common purpose. Consider the following examples:
- Decentralized Trials and Research Alliance (DTRA) enables collaboration of stakeholders to accelerate the adoption of patient-focused, decentralized clinical trials and research within life sciences and healthcare and boasts of 60+ members across pharma, medtech healthcare, technology providers, and service providers.
- trade is a joint venture owned by 12 European banks and IBM focused on trade finance.
- Known Traveller Digital Identity (KTDI) is a World Economic Forum that brings together a global consortium of individuals, governments, authorities and the travel industry to enhance security in world travel.
- Gaia-X is focused on creating the next generation of data infrastructure: an open, transparent and secure digital ecosystem, where data and services can be made available, collated and shared in an environment of trust.
- Fnality has a core objective to create a digital coin that can be used to settle international money transfers instantly, cutting out intermediaries and lowering transaction costs. It now boasts 15 major institutions as shareholders.
OneEcosystem is unraveling right in front of our eyes if we are willing to open them and see the change.Don’t be an ostrich with your head in the sand. Start collaborating. Get going. EX+CX+PX = Innovation…