Recalibrate or retire: Fostering innovation during COVID-19

by | Nov 4, 2020

We’ve been hard at work analyzing the responses from the latest wave of Mod Op Strategic Consulting Digital Maturity Index (DDMI) participants, and one trend has become startlingly apparent: In the era of COVID, Culture and Innovation (C&I) – one of our seven DDMI focus areas – has become more important than ever.

We define C&I to be an organization’s capacity to respond, adapt and innovate as the needs of its consumers (and the functionality of its products and services) change over time. In short: Culture and Innovation represents the ‘digital savvy’ of your organization. Compared to our benchmark of results from previous iterations of the DDMI, C&I has seen by far the greatest category-level growth. Consider this:

  • For our latest batch of respondents, category-level maturity scores for C&I have improved by 20% compared to our existing benchmark of results.
  • In this batch, as well as just its top quartile, C&I is now a top two category from a maturity perspective.
  • Compared to our existing benchmark, these latest respondents also consider C&I to be 3x as important from a resource allocation perspective.

The need for a culture of innovation

I imagine that for some of you, these results won’t come as a surprise. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced many companies to completely redefine the scope and branding of their products and services – bluntly, to either innovate or die trying.

What does this mean for your organization? To meet the needs of your customers in the long term, it’s almost certainly time to recalibrate your organization’s product set.


If your organization relied to any extent on revenues from in-person interaction with your clients (be they attendees at your annual convention or patrons of your high-end nightclub) COVID has almost certainly posed challenges to your business model. Survival means recalibrating – namely, evaluating and adjusting – your organization’s institutional priorities, category spend, and customer personas to meet your customers where they are now (which, more likely than not, is at home).

  • Short-term rental giant Airbnb kicked off its “Go Near” initiative earlier this year, focusing its suggested stays and experiences on locations within driving distance (read: no flying required) of the user.

Whether it’s a room, a meal, or a shot at love, these companies are all selling the same product they were selling before COVID. What’s been recalibrated are the details:

  • A five-star chef prioritizing high-end, heat-retaining delivery containers over lounge musicians for their Q4 2020 budget.
  • A head of product at Bumble prioritizing on-platform video chat capabilities over in-person meetups for their next software update.
  • Or a marketing executive at Airbnb prioritizing a local getaway over an exotic, international experience in their next ad campaign.

To stay ahead of the competition during COVID (and beyond), the answer is simple: Recalibrate, or retire.

Want to figure out how your organization’s maturity within C&I stacks up against the competition? Take the DDMI today and find out.

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