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Examples of Enterprise Innovation & Transformation Success

Enterprises are improving business outcomes by –

A. the organization becoming more digital / increasingly using digital platforms

B. having a meaningful presence in mobile

C. personalizing services and being more sophisticated in the delivery of information services with AI, Machine Learning, Analytics, AR, VR, etc.

While there is a tendency to assume all innovation and transformation is technology centric, the distinguishing elements are –

I. Leveraging Technology – is mainly about improving and modernizing processes, products, and services

II. Disruptive Innovation and meaningful Digital Transformation – is mainly about developing new capabilities, products, services, and processes

– which are often predicated on deeper shifts in the organization or industry with very successful initiatives often arising from new opportunities, vision, crises, or a new company culture

Examples of enterprises that have successfully repositioned themselves as growth companies after rethinking their core focus, strategy, structure and opportunities to facilitate enterprise-wide innovation and transformation are –

1.  In the early 2000s, Microsoft shares were languishing around $20-30. The company seemed stuck in the past, and struggled to compete with other tech giants such as Apple and Google. In 2015, Microsoft took a huge step and reoriented the business. It shifted from concentrating primarily on high margins in the established business to focusing on growth. Under the leadership of CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft rediscovered its roots as a fierce competitor and transformed itself with new capabilities and attitudes to compete in modern markets and address new opportunities. Nadella shifted the company from “ a ‘know-it-all culture ’ to a ‘ learn-it-all culture ” – to better position Microsoft to win new business. With this, Nadella deprioritized Windows and refocused the strategy on cloud services, artificial intelligence, and gaming. In conjunction with this change, Microsoft acquired 49 companies since 2014 – including LinkedIn and the software development platform GitHub. Today, Microsoft trades at over $100 per share.

2.  As one of the first successful automobile manufacturers, it would have been easy for Ford Motor Company to stay within its comfort zone. After nearly filing for bankruptcy in 2009, however, Ford realized that it needed to rethink its approach.In 2017, Ford brought on Jim Hackett, formerly CEO of the furniture-maker Steelcase, as its new leader. Hackett has implemented design thinking principles across the company to ensure that Ford is truly delighting its customers, and is now spearheading an $11 billion, multiyear corporate restructuring that will transform it from a 20th century automaker into a 21st century transportation services provider. As ride-sharing and autonomous vehicles point the way toward Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS)—an industry which is expected to grow to $1.75 trillion in 2028—Ford is cutting product lines and working to develop an ecosystem of mobility solutions and providers. While that effort has had its fits and starts, Ford is on the path to reshaping itself and once again emerging as a global transportation leader.

3.  Procter & Gamble was founded in 1837, but its longevity offers scant protection against intense competition in the globalized market for consumer goods. In 2014, P&G began to streamline and simplify the company, reducing its brand portfolio from 170 to 65 and building out its e-commerce business with companies such as Amazon, Alibaba, and Tencent. P&G also dismantled its matrix organization and replaced it with a simpler structure, resulting in speedier decision-making and greater end-to-end accountability. The results of P&G’s transformation are consistently better top-line and bottom-line numbers, including dramatically improved core operating margins. Its stock price has climbed steadily, reaching historic highs in 2018.

4.  Walmart recently partnered with Microsoft and Google to provide shoppers with the kinds of convenient digital experiences they’ve come to expect from e-commerce retailers such as Amazon and Alibaba. At a June 2018 shareholder meeting, CEO Doug McMillon described Walmart as a “technology company”. Unquestionably, Walmart has seen the writing on the wall and is repositioning itself as customer-focused and digitally adept. Walmart’s use of Microsoft Azure for cloud services and Google Home for voice-activated shopping demonstrates its commitment to catching up with its tech-savvy competitors. Walmart also invested heavily in acquiring reputable firms with proven e-commerce platforms, such as, Bonobos, and Flipkart, India’s largest online store. Walmart’s transformation isn’t just about enhanced digital customer experiences—it’s also about increasing the company’s scale, reach, and scope of services. Clearly, Walmart intends to remain competitive, and is investing in the resources it needs to maintain its role as the world’s leading retailer.

Key Innovation and Transformation Drivers

The examples above demonstrate that success is often enabled by technology and one or more of the following drivers –

People  To develop and execute full-scale transformation, an organization must have the right talent, skill, experience, and incentives in place.

Encouraging people to adopt and continually reinforce a growth mindset can empower them to pursue opportunities and take calculated risks by investing and developing new capabilities. The tone from the top and the echo from the bottom are important indicators to monitor.

Focus  As industries evolve into ecosystems, companies have the opportunity to reconsider their ultimate aim, purpose, and approach.                                                                           .

Some of the most fascinating transitions involve shifting a company’s strategic focus from selling products to providing very engaging customer experiences and optimal services.

Fortitude  Strategic change is a complex and resource-intensive process.

Retooling the organization, processes, and reward systems can help companies maintain the patience and discipline required to push through blockers as well as celebrate wins along the way.

Horizon  Organizational renovations are not “ one-off ” projects. They are multiyear ventures with deep and far-reaching consequences for stakeholders at every level of the enterprise.

Fixating on short-term results can erode long-term efforts, which often involve months or years of testing, refinement, and optimization.

Openness   Successful enterprise innovation and transformation requires high levels of self-analysis and candor.

Bringing transparency to the leadership team is important to sustaining an organization-wide transformation strategy.


Ford’s CFO, Bob Shanks, is straightforward when he talks about the company’s ongoing restructuring: “ This type of profound redesign will take time ”. This is true of all meaningful innovation and corporate transformations where there are no overnight successes with moments of failure and despair. Successful organizations will be those that are relentless in pursuing where they want to be and have the Customer at the center of every decision.

March 13, 2019    CAIL Innovation Commentary    – from Beth Devin – Head of Innovation Network & Emerging Technology, Citi Ventures