Companies widely recognize the potential power of artificial intelligence (AI). They instinctively understand that it feels like we’re on the cusp of something that will change our lives and our businesses in a profound way. Yet, many struggle with where to apply it. Executives can’t shake the feeling that they should have use cases for AI and use it productively today, even recognizing that AI is not mature yet and will be far more powerful tomorrow and in the future. If you’re looking for how and where your company should use AI, let me give you a perspective on a great application of AI today: your digital platforms.
In today’s ultra-competitive marketplace, every company whether they realize it or not, is creating multiple digital platforms. Why? Because platforms transcend traditional value chains and enable companies to create new business value. What this really means is companies are moving away from processes to platforms to create competitive advantages. The top 10 Fortune 500 companies are platform companies (Apple, Facebook, Google and Salesforce, for example). Moving forward, companies that master platform thinking and design will be the champions. Such is the power of this new way of thinking that most if not all firms are in the process of assembling and refining., If you and your company are to fully benefit from them, you need to understand why this is happening and how you can take advantage of it.
Digital transformation disrupts the way companies create value that improves the customer, employee or partner experience. But it involves a multiyear journey and changing a company’s operating model, which is painful and difficult. Building executive and organizational conviction on the vision for what the transformation is and sustaining it over a three-to-five-year journey requires thinking differently about business transformation and its challenges. Let’s look at the “moments that matter” in how your company must handle challenges on that journey and sustain the conviction that the pain is worth it.
When your company undertakes digital transformation, undoubtedly a primary activity will be building a digital platform. As digital transforms companies, their digital platform becomes a differentiator. Building your platform is a crucial activity, as it will enable your company to change to a new digital operating model, and that model is how your company will create new value and new competitive positioning. But digital operations and technologies are still new and evolving quickly, and the business world lacks 10-20 years of experience and benchmarking data that could help your company determine the effectiveness of your platform’s performance. This is one of the reasons so many initiatives fail. To avoid that risk, let’s look at how to understand whether your digital platform will deliver your intended outcome.
Digital transformation gives companies new opportunities to change their competitive position. Typically, the objective for using powerful digital technologies is to create new value that changes the customer experience, the employee experience or the ecosystem partner experience. However, executives become frustrated when they need to communicate to their boards or peers on how quickly they can deliver on the promises of digital transformation. We live in a world of instant gratification, agile methodologies and sprints. This leads to an impression that a company can quickly achieve a new competitive position in the marketplace or quickly get meaningful benefit from the investments. Inconveniently, this impression is not the truth.