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Recognizing the Barriers to “Innovate for Impact”

Meaningfully improving business outcomes from Disruptive Innovation and Digital Transformation is very challenging in many enterprises because of:

Source: Cornerstone Advisors

Why is this?   Because very few senior decision makers in enterprises today have any:

  • background in technology
  • understanding what is needed to deliver a great Customer experience
  • experience in creating new digital services
  • knowledge of how to monetize digital value creation
  • ability to manage the changing nature of risk

So while decision makers have many good qualities (which is how they became C-Level Executives), it’s an increasingly difficult situation since:

  1.  the business landscape is changing… and becoming even more digital
  2.  User expectations are rising… with the need for personalized services as well as very responsive and always on systems
  3.  the need is to be very entrepreneurial because the windows of opportunity are “opening”  and “closing”  faster
  4.  having high competencies with the above skills is essential for success going forward
  5.  great look ahead, innovating for impact, expanding revenue streams, and evolving the business model are critical differentiators to build brand value

Put another way, the problem typically isn’t the underlings who “just don’t get the need for change.”  Rather, it’s with those with 30 to 40 years of industry experience – the many current leaders having deeply ingrained habits and beliefs about how their organization and the industry works.

While there is a growing number of Executives who recognize the need for their own beliefs to evolve, it’s a lot easier said than done. This is especially the case when it comes to being good at Disruptive Innovation.  For example, how does a business Executive decide on the opportunity and risk associated with a $10M new initiative to identify, develop, and make good on a new digital service ?  …. when they have little feel for User expectations, what’s needed to deliver a product / service with high appeal, size of the opportunity, the options to monetize new capabilities, the needed IT infrastructure, etc.

This situation occurred in the 1980s when many organizations were slow to adopt personal computing. The real uptick in usage didn’t happen until business people realized the PC potential to address a variety of new needs quickly and economically – and they controlled the process (not the IT Dept)  +  Baby Boomers took over the C-suite.

Because of this, Innovating for Impact and Digital Transformation in many enterprises isn’t going to happen until there is:

  • a crisis
  • the threat from a digital based business
  • an inability to identify and make good on a significant new opportunity
  • a challenge to attract top talent
  • there is the ability to quickly and easily deliver new capabilities
  • Gen Xers and Millennials are making decisions and dominating the C–suite

In reality, the path to being good a disruptive innovation and digital transformation isn’t a straight line – but rather periods of significant change followed by slower progress as enterprises adapt.

With this, decision makers who think “ We’re good “, or “ We’ll change fast”, or  “ We’ll follow the process “ are tell tale indicators it’s time to change the “ Mindset “ –  if the objective is to meaningfully improve outcomes.

July 20, 2020  –  by CAIL and Ron Shevlin, Managing Director of Fintech Research at Cornerstone Advisors as well as author of the book Smarter Bank and the Fintech Snark Tank on Forbes.