How to Achieve Your Next Level Digital Innovation

How to Achieve Your Next Level Digital Innovation

Published By : Mark Johnson June 5, 2019

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I recently attended the 2019 Forrester Digital Transformation (Dx) and Innovation event in Chicago.  As always at these events, I go in with an open mind and my eyes/ears wide open for the latest research, trends and topics. I want to explore how they could potentially impact my own company, our prospects and customers.  The first thing I noted was Forrester had combined two events, one on Dx and one on
Innovation.  In my view this was a smart move as I see the two topics inextricably linked.

The first keynote however caught me off guard.  In previous posts I’ve written about Dx failures, quoting research from the likes of Forbes and Gartner, which now go back a few years.  I was hopeful in Chicago for some good news and to hear about Dx success stories.

Not.  Sure, there were some success stories, but Forrester’s latest and upcoming research suggests Dx continues to fail.  As an example, they looked at differentiation for B2B websites and Customer Experience (Cx).

From their survey of B2B websites, they first defined best practice with factors such as courage and boldness.

The results were alarming; with 0% rated as best practice and 85% below average.

From their survey on Cx, which covered 2016-2018, the results again drive a cautionary message.

Year to year, about 5% or less had Very Poor experiences.  Around 20% had Poor experiences.  Between 50-60%, and rising in 2019, had Great experiences.  But only 20% had Excellent experiences and declined in 2019.


Clearly, the industry is still not getting it right.  Most companies are now doing Dx but ending up in the same spot – Forrester now coining the term, Digital Sameness.  In essence, Dx initiatives are causing change, good change, but only incrementally.

blob-3-4The keynote ended with a great quote from Albert Einstein:

Image source: Forrester




What is the next level?

As I thought about this, sports came to mind and I pondered, what can business learn from sports in terms of getting to the next level of digital innovation.  I turned to two resources – Nick Saben and Tim Grover.

Nick Saben has a .785 winning percentage as a NCAA Division I head football coach.  Not the highest (that would be Larry Kehres at .929), but respectable. Nick is often quoted as saying “we have 5 choices in life; we can choose to be Bad, Average, Good, Excellent or Elite”, and that he looks for and coaches’ individuals who have or desire to reach the Excellent or Elite levels.  In his words, “to be elite or excellent requires special intensity, focus, commitment, drive and passion.”

Blog Commercial Break – a Shout Out to my two favorite Nebraska Cornhusker coaches, Bob Devaney (.806) and Tom Osborne (.836).  GBR!

Tim Grover was the personal trainer for Michael Jordon, Kobe Bryant and Dwayne Wade and is also the author of “Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable”.  I will summarize the book below as I think about Dx, innovation and getting to the next level:

To be the best, whether it’s sports, business or your personal life, it’s never enough just to get to the top.  You must stay there and then climb higher.

Being the best means you reengineer your life, your business and you never stop until you get what you want.  And then, keep going until you get what’s next.

Relentless pursuit of excellence is the key to success and allows you and your company to become Unstoppable.

Never forget your fundamentals and practice them forever.  For us at Salient, this means PROCESS.

Everything you need to be great is already inside of you, inside your company (more on this below when I discuss Goliaths).

Your ambitions, your secrets, your recipes and your dreams.  That special sauce.  Your processes.

They are waiting for you to just let go, to release their power.

It’s time to stop listening to what everyone else says about you, what to do, how you should act and feel.

Let them judge you by your results/outcomes, and nothing else.

Decide.  Commit.  Act.  Succeed. Repeat.

Repeatable.  There is always a next level.

If there is one thing which can be repeatable, it’s your processes.

One of the best ways I have seen to really make one think about this are the recent advertisements from AT&T on “Just Ok is not Ok”;


Goliath’s Revenge

One of my favorite event sessions was an interview with Scott Snyder, one of the authors of “Goliath’s Revenge:  How established companies turn the tables on digital disruptors”.

This caught my attention since here at Salient Process, we work with some of the largest and most complex companies in the world which include 3 of the top Fortune Global 50.  Each of whom have Dx initiatives of various sizes and shapes and each are under attack from various smaller, nimble and agile disruptors.  For them, digital innovation is top of mind.

Scott draws from his book and states that these startups/unicorns would kill for what these Goliaths have; customers, partners, data, IP, process, secret sauce and brand name/trust.  But often big and complex companies just can’t get out of their own way.  They have powerful legacy assets, often gifted.  But how to unlock that value has become a big challenge.  Their company crown jewels are often hidden gems they don’t realize they are sitting on.  In a previous blog I discussed how many companies often become overly excited about technology and will just throw technology at problems without proper due diligence and truly looking at root cause problems.  I introduced the idea of a process-centric company and going back to the fundamentals.  This is exactly what companies that are highlighted in the book, like GM, are doing.  Same goes for our customers – they are making process a priority.

Scott went on to share an example – how to manage regulation.  Many startup FinTech’s for example, struggle with keeping pace with and structuring the processes to deal with the rapid change of regulations and maintaining compliance.  Big companies have been doing this for years – and there is a well-established process behind it.  Institutional knowledge is embedded in our companies.  Tribal knowledge in the minds of knowledge workers.  The disruptive Goliath knows how to package it up and expose it to inside innovators and even potential external partners (those disruptors who they fear today).

Scott talks about how the disruptive Goliath needs to operate at two speeds.  Run the current business better and continuously improve it.  And changing the game in the future.

If you are aiming to be just a little bit better than yesterday, it isn’t going to cut it. It won’t keep you up with the pace of disruption.

Recent research tells us that to keep doing the same things, but only a little bit better, results in 40% revenue erosion and 25% profit erosion.  Ouch!

I then had the opportunity to meet Scott later in the day at his book signing.  He, as well as many Forrester presentations that day, spoke about how many companies who claim to position their company processes as a key differentiator, have very few of those processes documented.  And how they were surprised, still in 2019, how many companies “do not understand their business”.

Time for an In and Out Burger


Forrester challenged the audience at the end of the day to create a vision for moving beyond incremental change to having a 10x step change vision.

To get to the next level of digital innovation and achieve a 10x step change, it’s not easy, it’s not for beginners and you need to make the right steps.

You need an expert in matching the right automation technology to your different types of work – and to help you go back to your process fundamentals.  Look no further than Salient Process.

To end on some good news, none of this needs to be complex.  I began this blog talking about Dx and Digital Innovation, then talking about large, complex companies (Goliaths).  This article by HBR on innovation and complexity, with a feature use case about In and Out Burger and their principle of 4, is a nice way to plop yourself down on the sofa, tune in your favorite sports game and think about your next steps – with a 4×4 of course (not for beginners), fries and chocolate shake.

Please feel free to reach out to me at any time to discuss at [email protected]