Like individual people, businesses may have an idea of their own current status, their skills and vulnerabilities, but by definition they aren’t able to see themselves as others see them to define the optimal digital strategy.

What is Technology Consulting’s Ultimate Role in Bringing Innovation to Clients?

The whole concept of consulting revolves around providing the essential perspective of a seasoned, knowledgeable outsider. Like individual people, businesses may have an idea of their current status, their skills, and vulnerabilities: but, by definition, they aren’t able to see themselves as others see them. The establishment of an objective viewpoint is an act of honesty within an enterprise, as essential as personal virtues are to people. Also, just as in human relations, mature behavior depends the integration of valuable objective input. In the business world, digital maturity is the outcome of systematic self-evaluation. There’s far more to effective technology consulting, however, than merely providing an objective evaluation. Another key benefit includes tools for applying a rigorous, consistent methodology over time. This repeatable, analytical framework gives the outside consultant’s perspective a robust architecture that leads to identifiable success.

Benchmarking is Key to an Honest Self-Image

Benchmarking is the key way to measure how a company measures up to competitors, as well as in general across industries. Benchmarking digital performance is one of the core engines for driving excellence. Companies need to evaluate themselves against the general digital environment: if a company is still relying on paper records while others have already made the change to cloud data storage, then that company is vulnerable to disruption. Businesses need to maintain a clear image of where they are positioned concerning their digital strategy, to protect against being blindsided by a competitor’s disruptive approach.

Macro and Micro Benchmarking

Digital Consulting brings a scientific, analytical approach to the table — with macro-benchmarking being an important aspect of this method — which looks outside of the company, and analyses how it shapes up against other businesses. How does a business model, and its execution, compare with others both inside and outside its industry? It’s not enough to just make a list of different technologies that are being introduced by other companies: it’s also necessary to evaluate how successful those new strategies are, and to discover gaps in competitors’ services that create opportunities for a company to deliver unique value. This process of outward evaluation is one foundation of maintaining an agile company culture.

Micro-benchmarking is turning the same granular level of analytic sights inwards, to systematically scrutinize a company’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These usually include analytics generated by mobile and web traffic, as well as overall sales figures, employee retention and other fundamental aspects of the business. KPIs that specifically concern customer behavior — such as bounce rates, online sales figures, time spent on site and more — are an essential basis for improving customer experience, always a central goal of any digital strategy.

Holistic Assessments Result From Solid Scoring

A good scoring framework is essential in the benchmarking process. Such a structure underlies a consistent methodology and yields a highly granular evaluation of where a company stands according to many metrics. Centric Digital is unique in the fine-grained nature of our scoring framework, providing a quantitative assessment of a company based on six layers of digital, 51 categories, 303 sub-categories, and a total of 2324 classifiers. This pointillist detail yields an overall holistic picture — one which can be repeated in the future, with confidence that the methodology is rigorously consistent.

These benchmarks are systematic and repeatable, and provide a contextual grounding for evaluating the effects of any digital innovation, regardless of circumstance.

Innovation Does Not Have to be Dramatic

Given the constant verbiage about disruption, a common mistake that companies make when they first approach this topic is thinking innovation will strike their hard-won processes like lightning. They may hesitate to approach the prospect of engaging with digitally transformative processes because, having built their brand through a specific, organic process, they are less confident about suddenly making a quantum leap into unfamiliar territory.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that innovation doesn’t have to necessarily revolutionize the entire product and process of a company. Instead, a highly practical approach can be developed through supporting an existing business model by evaluating emerging technology and seeing how this technology can promote the company’s existing goals.

Practicality is Key to Digital Maturity

The concept of digital maturity means taking a robust, data-based approach to using technology in order to improve a business’s effectiveness, and does not mean chasing after every technology just to pursue its glamour. Technology consultants are valuable because they provide analysis backed by a rigorous playbook, of which many possible techniques are specifically applicable to the unique needs of each company.

As the digital ecosystem and economy continues to grow, it becomes increasingly complex and fast-moving, and no company is going to adopt every single emerging technology. Real innovation may mean that customers have a different experience, or that operations proceed more cost-effectively, but it doesn’t mean changing a company’s fundamental reason for existence.

Nurture a Culture of Innovation

Another benefit that seasoned digital consultants offer to companies is assistance with creating a culture of innovation. When an agile, responsive culture is established throughout an organization, it clears the roadblocks from taking risks that lead to valuable change. It also helps executives differentiate between the brand’s enduring meaning and merely habitual products or processes.

Clarifying how to bring about such a culture is valuable because, without clear direction, it is possible for management to head off on the wrong track. They may casually ask some associates for impromptu ideas, and then implement the ones they hear in the mistaken belief that this simple approach is the same thing as agility. In fact, agility is made possible from having a clear and balanced strategy directed forward and guided by the outcomes of benchmarking and the company’s business plan. It may seem counter-intuitive, but is worth repeating: a culture of innovation is based on robust analytics and quantifiable planning. Digital transformation results from using technological tools to deliver on a specific multi-layered strategy.

Apply Disruptive Thinking to All Parts of the Company

While customer experience makes up an essential segment of KPIs, it’s certainly not the only area to be considered for change. A culture of innovation means exactly that: if HR procedures need to be streamlined, or if the accounting department can improve their reporting process, or even if the approach to equipment maintenance needs to be changed — those all fall within the purview of innovation.

Rely on a Rigorous Playbook

A digital consultancies playbook provides context. When companies are unfamiliar with the extent of what a complete digital strategy may entail, they may waste resources because they lack a context from which to embark on their forward pathway. Centric Digital’s playbook is both detailed and clear, demystifying the journey toward understanding a business positioning in the digital space.

Regardless of industry, the rubrics that make up this playbook are equally relevant. The framework is tested, with the individual company’s business model at the very center. From there, the analysis leads through graduated layers of evaluative questioning and these “layers” encompass the people, processes, platforms, products, channels, and experience of the business’ complete digital customer experience. The sum of these answers creates the unique pathway forward for a prospective company. The goal of a digital consultant, then, is to demonstrate and provide direction in how each enterprise is unique and requires its own customized strategy and ambitious roadmap to compete.

Consultants Bring New Tools

These days, companies may already have brought a CDO or CIO on board, and therefore may question the utility of having an outside expert come in to provide input. The layered analysis contained within our playbook and our objectively repeatable scoring framework can make information and digital officers more efficient at their jobs. Instead of showing up with a team that says, “Now we’re going to tell you something you didn’t know,” technology consultants introduce a particular methodology that provides undiscovered value. The benefit of our platform is that we put our proprietary software around that method, giving clients perspective so they can begin to lay out a real path of innovation moving forward.

A Pathway Forward

Technology consultation doesn’t abruptly end with a set of recommendations. After gathering initial insights and benchmarking the position of a prospective business, the pathway forward has discrete steps. First, the consultant works together with the company to prioritize the potential opportunities based on factors unique to that organization. Next, a digital roadmap is created, capital is allocated, and the company then takes the exciting steps towards truly redefining their positioning in the new digital economy.

In the end, the role of a digital strategy consultant is to pry open, organize, and help guide the way towards the evolution of business in a rapidly changing ecosystem. Change never comes easily, but in the presence of utterly new technological capabilities, the future has never been more exciting.