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Deloitte: Rapid innovation at speed top priority

Digital maturity is essential for organisations to innovate quickly for future challenges during this era of uncertainty, reports Deloitte

Janet Brice
|Oct 9|magazine10 min read

 Rapid innovation to repurpose existing knowledge, resources and technology helped many organisations adapt to the COVID-19 crisis, report consultants Deloitte. 

It highlights how companies who are digitally mature may have an edge on their competitors to quickly adapt their services and goods to cope with global uncertainties - today and tomorrow.

Deloitte reports that global spending on digital transformation is projected to grow by 10.4% in 2020 to US$1.3 trillion. The pandemic has highlighted how critical agility and rapid innovation is vital for organisations to navigate their way through the ‘new normal’. 

Researchers at the International Monetary Fund and Stanford University sight three decades of rising uncertainty. The COVID-19 pandemic caused an obvious spike but it hasn’t changed the direction of the trend which means organisations have to prepare through innovation.

“We believe this is one reason why corporate investment in digital transformation remains strong,” says the report. It is “one of the few bright spots in a year characterised by dramatic reductions in overall technology spending.

At a time of rising uncertainty, an ability to innovate rapidly has never been more important. Innovation is complex and many factors influence an organisation’s innovation ability. Digital maturity is a key factor.

Rapid innovation during COVID-19 included:

  • Use of existing drugs to tackle symptoms of the pandemic 
  • Cosmetics and whiskey distilleries producing hand sanitiser
  • Manufacturers shifting production capacity to ventilators or face shields and masks
  • A passenger airline shifted to cargo-only flights
  • A hotel chain offered workspaces at day rates to professionals
  • A movie studio released a new film directly to its streaming service
  • A mobile car cleaning service went national in two weeks instead of two years
  • A pharmacy chain used drones to delivery prescriptions to a retirement community 

Most of these moves occurred a few weeks after the World Health Organisation declared the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the report these companies were successful in repurposing existing knowledge, resources, and technology.

Agility and speed key to the future

While the current pandemic will subside, there is little sign that the future will be any more stable or predictable, reports Deloitte. High uncertainty and rapid change tend to reduce the relevance of the data that companies may have traditionally used for planning. Above all, they will need a capacity for rapid innovation - every day, not just in a crisis.

Professors of strategic management and innovation Georg von Krogh, Burcu Kucukkeles and Shiko M. Ben-Menahem suggest that organisations may be able to use repurposing to achieve ultrafast innovation to develop new solutions to current and future challenges.

Repurposing is one way of accelerating innovation. Making effective use of technologies such as cloud computing, data analytics, and artificial intelligence, is among the key principles of repurposing that can support ultrafast innovation.

Seven digital pivots can play a role in accelerating innovation according to a survey by Deloitte. Each of the digital pivots can play a role in accelerating innovation.

The seven digital pivots and their link to innovation:

  • Flexible, secure infrastructure involves leveraging cloud computing for scalability, cybersecurity to protect data - lower the risk of innovation.
  • Data mastery means using data and analytics to generate insights to enhance efficiency, guide product development and support new business models.
  • Digitally savvy, open talent networks involve securing flexible access to the talent and skills to grow a digital business.
  • Ecosystem engagement involves working with business partners to access intellectual property, technology or talent that can help accelerate innovation.
  • Intelligent workflows mean leveraging automation to increase efficiency and free up resources for higher-value tasks such as creating new products.
  • Delivering a superior customer experience built on deep data-driven knowledge - a focus on many recent digital transformation initiatives accelerated by the pandemic.

In conclusion, Deloitte states that some of the most innovative companies on the planet were born digital. For the rest, a concerted effort to become digital can help meet the growing need to innovate at speed.

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