Planning your digital future “Under the Covid Sun”

by | Jul 9, 2020

In the 2003 film “Under the Tuscan Sun,” Diane Lane’s character attempts to create a new life by chucking it all and moving to Tuscany. Marriage, love and children, she vowed, would each be reimagined. The plot was a story of transformation and adaptation: Her goals were realized, but with outcomes quite different from what she had planned.

So, too, has today’s Covid-19-impacted environment thrown businesses’ plans for 2020 asunder. We know this much: Your outcomes will differ from where you started the year.

Most companies will tactically muddle through the current daily pressures and prioritize accordingly. Smart leaders, however, will launch strategies for coming out of all this that will shape their own new normal. Like Lane’s character, this moment of disruption puts some slack time in the system. Here are five ways in which you can put that time to work:

Stakeholder analysis

Take a look at the stakeholders in every aspect of your enterprise. What effect has the pandemic had on relationships, activities and advocacy?

Employees bear special review, along with customers and trade partners. Being homebound during the crisis means your staff have been increasingly interacting with the enterprise much as a customer would. Take advantage of this outside-looking-in perspective and ask:

  • Which staff became advocates and evangelists for you, proactively responding to customer struggles with answers, action, and advocacy?  Find, encourage and reward them.
  • Which customers did the same on your behalf? Ditto to the above.
  • Which trading partners pulled through for you; which supply chains “made it work” despite it all?

Use these insights to mold a new CX (Customer Experience). It will take more than broadcasting yet another “we are thinking of you during this time” email blast.  Look here for more thoughts on Covid  and customers:   Customer feedback lessons from the lockdown.

Platform strategy and execution

In the Tuscany flick, Lane’s character discovered that “plumbing is important.” Perhaps you have made a similar discovery. Was your enterprise correctly piped for new and changing conditions? Customers and staff alike went remote. Did your technical architecture flex appropriately, or bust from rigidity? Could access, process, distribution and economic structures move with your market?  Like plumbing, flexible architectures are just “there” when all is well and then can save your business when the world is upside down.

The Covid crisis reminds us that business rides on a series of interconnected platforms. Too many legacy structures are built-in, based on false premises, technically rigid (if not obsolete) and not scalable in new dimensions. Platform-based approaches are needed, both to rebuild/recover from today’s world and to anticipate the next challenges. 

Platform thinking is change, and it is essential for the long run. But the path is knowable and doable:   Platforms for growth provide business models for a digital world.

Clean up your data

The diminishment of direct human interactions brings forward a reliance on the data available in the enterprise. How has that been working out for you? Good times have always been a salve for bad data and getting resources to address MDM (Master Data Management) and data quality programs are historically a struggle. Perhaps we have now learned better. 

Take steps to clean up your data. How many records exist in your CRM for the same customer?  How many addresses are incorrect? Data is an asset. In fact, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) occasionally stirs a pot by assigning an enterprise accounting value for data. Perhaps this means future CFOs will “own” data and need to attest to its integrity. Does that scare you?

All best practices here dictate that someone must carry responsibility. But beware: Some data governance is better than none, but too much governance is often the path to paralysis.

Leveraged automation

As you analyze your stakeholders, platforms and data, take time to review automation opportunities.  Although tarred by a current round of hype, benefits can be had from thoughtful application of machine learning, artificial intelligence and robotic process automation. These are not the same things and they are applied for differing circumstances. Each can be a subject for future Insights, but let’s summarize a bit for purposes of differentiation:

  • Machine Learning (ML) is seeing notable success in industrial settings where, literally, machines can recognize differences (planned or unplanned) or assure desired patterns of compliance are the result of a monitored process. It is often seen in environments which leverage IOT (Internet of Things) technology.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) examines large, often disparate pools of data, finding correspondences and making statistically based predictions of actions or outcomes. Consumers and your salespeople see these capabilities as the output of “recommendations” – what someone is likely to buy next or might be upsold. Future maturity in this area will see ever-increasing automated processes for investments, product selection, customer lifetime value and autonomous vehicles.
  • Robotic Process Automation (RPA) loves a well-defined, currently labor-intensive, repetitive process.  Look here for transformation opportunity before just bringing back hundreds of “processor staff” to run spreadsheets, process claims, analyze financials or enter orders.  Success can be real but it’s not automatic. See our blog posting on process automation lessons learned.

Program execution

Making change occur is hard.  The initiatives described above are not quick fixes, although enlightened execution does target quick wins as a deliberate strategy. Most likely, some sort of program structure and method is needed to carry them out. And yet, while there is science involved to structure and manage such programs, the art is in driving enthusiasm and adoption. Here, organizations differ widely and getting the right mix of techniques, participants, tactics and tools are all critical success factors. 

We can help

At Mod Op Strategic Consulting we bring proven, deep and hands-on experience to solve your most pressing digital challenges, while helping you develop an essential and wholistic view of your strategy and execution needs. Our approach includes bringing critical thinking and action plans to each aspect of your digital journey when and where you need it most, from stakeholder analysis, to platform evaluation, data integrity and governance, and automation.  Backed by our program management processes, we enable you and your teams to coordinate and execute on specific components of your strategy with a laser-like focus on engagement and measurable results to achieve and sustain overall business growth.

Here is a collection of thoughts on doing programs the “Digital Prism Way”:  A checklist for successful transformations.

Covid-19 has indeed challenged all businesses to re-think what it means to “be digital.”  Contact us today for a conversation on how we can build resilience and improve your organization’s ability to adapt and respond to the challenges ahead, preparing for your “day in the sun.”

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Mark Carberry


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