Rethink technology and organization for commercial success


With new trends and digitization changing the way people and businesses buy products and services, the secrets of commercial success are shifting. Marc Andre Lein and Simon Andreas Hoffmann from the management consultancy Impulssum outline why a renewed approach to technology and organization is at the core of economic success.

Technology that changes the game

Digitization is changing the way we do business. Let’s take a look at the world’s largest companies in 2006. The top three places were taken by ExxonMobil, General Electric and Gazprom. At the top of the list today are players like Microsoft, Google and Amazon. In just a few short years, these “digital” players have amassed unprecedented fortunes by leveraging new business models or disrupting traditional business models.

The word ‘digital’ is used in many different contexts and it seems difficult for most companies to fully understand what ‘digital’ means to them.

Taking a step back, digital is not about digital, it is simply about an enabler that enables us to meet the needs of customers. Often these needs are not addressed by existing players, and the catalyst that opens up new opportunities is an advance in technology. These advances are enabling companies to (better) address previously unmet needs, and we’re seeing companies capitalize on this opportunity in virtually every industry. Success belongs to the companies that understand this change and take advantage of it.

Upon closer inspection, most of the fast-growing and dominant companies share an unrelenting obsession with the customer that puts them at the center of everything. To quote Jeff Bezos on Amazon’s success, “The #1 thing that has made us successful, by far, is our obsessive customer focus.”

The same principle applies in both B2C and B2B environments, where the individual recipients of your product or service are your consumers and their expectations are shaped by frontrunners across all industries (e.g. services in a D2B order portal, if I’m used to it to rely on reviews in my private searches”).

Business-oriented technology and organizational structure

The above dynamic can only be meaningfully used to your advantage if the technology and its business application are at the center of your organization. There are some guidelines for dealing with technology:

Technology should be viewed as a growth driver, not a cost factor. This contains:

Increasing & structural IT investments, which are spent on innovation and linked to business metrics (e.g. revenue) instead of variable IT investments that are subject to cost pressures and lead to longer use of legacy systems (high maintenance). Technology development must be continuous and adapt to changing consumer needs and technological advances.

Management & allocation of IT budgets are traditionally conducted on a case-by-case and hierarchical basis, with management teams having a fragmented wish list and teams struggling over budget. Management teams in Digital Winners determine strategic areas, prioritize them and allocate budget pools.

Business and IT departments are traditionally separate and not integrated. IT requirements arise in the company, are added to wish lists, checked and approved. Digital winners do not separate business from IT and vice versa. IT requirements arise and are immediately implemented (budget already in place) within the business teams (which also include technology experts). These winners typically don’t cause IT departments to report to the CFO, where the CFO is often viewed as a cost center.

You should also consider business metrics across the organization. We are often trained to think in terms of what was right in the past. The new environment may require you to look at slightly different metrics — for example, set goals for marketing ROI instead of marketing budgets.

Additionally, some metrics may have different healthy values ​​on the pitch, e.g. e.g., revenue per FTE tends to be higher in an online or omnichannel environment, e.g. B. Salaries tend to be higher for specialized talent. On the other hand, the impact per FTE may be more scalable.

Basic Success Criteria

There are three basic criteria for success that every business must adhere to:

  • Customer focus: You have to offer the best (end) customer experience that meets the most important (unmet) needs and expectations. Understand your customer and act accordingly.
  • Be self-learning: Own the (end) customer data and continuously generate data-driven business improvements. Apply a business-centric, data-driven approach to first prove value, then scale insights.
  • Have a high learning speed: Adapt structurally and quickly to evolving consumer/end customer needs and expectations. Faster learning speed means staying ahead of the competition.

Marc Andre Lein is a partner at Impulssum in Amsterdam, while Simon Andreas Hoffman is an associate partner in London. Impulssum is a consulting firm specializing in customer focus and commercial excellence.


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