Most organizations attempting a go-digital strategy quickly realize the serious challenges involved in such a business transformation. Any kind of change tests a company’s management dexterity, key processes, and technological skill with the new generation of SaaS-based solutions.
A digital transformation is often is compared to a simultaneous organizational brain and heart transplant. It is complex, expensive, and high-risk, and the long-term outcome is hardly a foregone conclusion. Inevitably, many companies look to shorten the timeline, reduce their risk and financial exposure, and seek specialist outside help from firms that focus on Business Transformation and can bring in best practices, metrics, and specialized planning and technology implementation skills.
We recently had an opportunity to have an in-depth 20 Questions conversation with Jim Martindale who is the CEO of management consultancy Navint, one of the expert firms focused on Business Transformation. In our session, we talked with Jim at length about his insight into the dynamics of the growing market for Business Transformation consulting services and the types of challenges and opportunities companies are facing in attempting to develop and transform their business models to leverage new technological capabilities. An excerpt from this interview is included below, and a full text is available to subscribers via an attachment below. This 20 Questions session was moderated by Andrew Dailey, Managing Director at MGI Research.
Jim Martindale Profile
Mr. Martindale has been in the Management Consulting and Business Transformation industry for over 20 years. Prior to serving as CEO of Navint, Mr. Martindale was a Managing Director at Tribridge and a Vice President of Business Development at Spry Technology Group. Jim holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business and Accounting from the University of Hartford. He is also Black Belt-certified in Lean Six Sigma.
Andrew Dailey: How are today’s business challenges different compared to those of 10 years ago?
Jim Martindale: The differences are dramatic. Information is very fluid and available to whoever is consuming it in every industry. It’s become super competitive, so you either have to be really good or the best at what you do, or you have to be doing something that’s innovative and/or dramatically different. If you aren’t different and aren’t better, you are doomed.
Andrew Dailey: What are the biggest competitive threats that companies face today? Do you see any difference for the companies that are trying to become digitally enabled versus traditional companies?
Jim Martindale: I would first ask what a traditional business is these days. Everything is shifting right now. Even the most traditional businesses are moving quickly to be a little bit different or at least perform the same old services or delivering the same old products differently. That said, I don’t think every business needs to become a digitally enabled business in the sense that all of its revenue derives from a digital delivery platform. It’s just not possible for a turbine manufacturer or a company like Caterpillar. But what we are seeing is that if you don’t have really high service levels and if you are not collaborating and partnering with your customers, then you’re not going to survive.
Certainly with so many new digital tools becoming rapidly available, it is a real challenge to decide which new technologies to choose and learn how to use them to service the necessary transformations. So no, I don’t believe everyone is going to become a full digitally enabled business, but everybody is definitely scrambling. The biggest competitive threat is information. Information is moving around the globe really fast and if you’re not moving as fast as or faster than your competition, then you’re probably not as good.
Andrew Dailey: In your conversations with CEOs in industries undergoing fundamental upheaval, what comes up when you discuss what needs to change and what things can stay the same? Where should people be focusing?
Jim Martindale: It’s an interesting question. A CEO’s job is to enable people to excel at what they do, and I think that’s more important than ever. Organizations need talents and vision, and they need to execute. We try to help our customers focus solely on what makes them better and/or different from their competitors. If they focus solely on that and try to be the best at it, anything else can change. So, if something is non-value add or if it is high transaction cost or if it is non-core to what makes you better and/or different, then it should be changed into something faster, better, or cheaper. But what you shouldn’t change is your culture, your people, and your focus on what makes you better and different.
Andrew Dailey: Where do you draw the line in terms of renovating the legacy infrastructure versus building totally new?
Jim Martindale: It’s a huge challenge. We don’t advocate necessarily throwing out legacy investments and doing a wholesale replacement. Some of those applications do certain things very well and they do so at low cost. So, if it’s not purely transactional or just storing lots of data or if it’s serving reports to a lot of consumers, whether they are internal or external to the organization, maybe those are best left untouched. But if there’s an opportunity to introduce new cloud or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) technology that will improve certain functions, then you should absolutely consider a change. Thousands of technology choices have entered the world in the last five or six years, and navigating through these choices is tough.
Andrew Dailey: There’s a lot of pressure on companies to expand their pricing options—moving, for instance, from a one-time payment option to a monthly or annual subscription or some type of usage-based model. What do you see as the business and IT challenges that companies face as they change their pricing models to adapt to these new pressures from customers and competitors?
Jim Martindale: This is an area where many companies are struggling today. Whether it is in response to a competitor introducing a new pricing model or driven by sales or a product team internally, companies are looking at this whole shift from selling a product to selling a solution, and this shift includes new pricing models and new consumption and delivery models. It puts a lot strain on the order to cash cycle. We have customers today working through exactly these problems. Essentially you have business processes and systems that are very traditional, and the organization is under a lot of strain because of the inadequacies of those processes and systems. As you look to address those issues, we think it’s important not to lose sight of the opportunities associated with dynamic pricing, creating product bundles, and rethinking the tools/weapons that the sales teams have. It starts with discovering new product and services possibilities, evaluating a range of pricing models, and then making sure that the entire organization—from sales and product management to finance and business operations—have the right tools to bring new product and offers to market at scale. It’s a dramatic shift in how the organization does forecasting, cash flow, and investor statements, production, customer support, and much more. It’s an end-to-end transformation when you look at the implications of these new pricing options, and, to really seize the opportunity, it requires an end-to-end reengineering of people, process, and technology to make it work.
About 20 Questions
20 Questions is an MGI Research Interview Series with leading technology industry executives, innovators, and investors.