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Digital Transformation: Visualize Your Journey, Not Your Rival's

This is the second post in this series - read post one here.

Marcel Proust wasn’t ruminating about digital transformation when he said, “We don't receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us.” But this statement could well align with what businesses face in their DX evolution. Putting a new vision to work — and ultimately altering the fabric of your business — is a process that will be different for every organization.

That means you really can’t just copy what your competitors are doing and try to do it better — because by the time you’ve emulated them, they’ve moved onto the next digital iteration of their business. Instead, you need to model your journey based on your own DNA — factoring in people (the entire ecosystem, including your people, customers, partners, etc.), your products and services (existing and planned), current and future vision, and the list goes on.

With DX, however, your outcomes will never exactly mirror even your best-laid plans — instead, you’ll find yourself consistently unleashing new initiatives, shifting channels and partners, and realigning your business (perhaps more frequently than ever) to put the right people in the right places at the right time.

Discovering the Unknown

Take Jaguar Land Rover, the largest automotive manufacturer in the UK and a truly globally renowned brand name. They kicked off an initiative to exploit the unknown, by connecting all their databases to find problems that they didn’t knew existed.

Through this process, which included transformational capabilities such as mathematical optimization and machine learning, they found hundreds of data correlations previously hidden to their business. For example, one correlation helped identify a faulty accumulator in a set of 96 machines making cylinder blocks. As a group their performance was in the normal range, but closer analysis of energy consumption vs. productivity suggested there were outliers of “unusual transactions” – and the team discovered that an accumulator was working inefficiently, drawing excess energy.

In this regard, Jaguar Land Rover set off on an approach that was truly unique to their organization, because they didn’t know what they would find once they started looking. That’s what we mean when we say “visualize your digital business” – likely, the company’s competitors would, given a similar set of circumstances and strategies, uncover very different unknowns, and thus head down a different path of discovery and, ultimately, transformation.

So while it’s valuable to study what others in your industry are doing (and even cross-industry, with so much convergence happening today – witness Amazon acquiring Whole Foods), it’s valuable to remain mindful that the specific DNA within your business may not be applicable to emulating someone else’s success. Taking a trip down the path to the unknown, as Jaguar Land Rover is doing, will likely create your own successes that indeed, others will want to emulate.

For more on the Jaguar Land Rover “Exploiting the Unknown” discoveries, check out this article in The Manufacturer.

Next post, we’ll cover unleashing the knowledge hidden within your most critical assets – your people.

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