Successful strategy is all about S.P.E.E.D

“The world has a way of changing. But there’s one thing that always stays the same”

No matter how fast you are, you cannot outrun change. Strategists have to get used to the fast and furious pace, as well as the scale of change. However, there will always be one constant — the focus on understanding people and their behaviour.

Think about the way we buy our grocery and how this is changing. Online grocery has become the norm during the pandemic. We have gotten so used to it, that even when restrictions eased, it is very hard to go back to how things used to be. Data predicts that online purchases of fresh fruit and vegetables for instance will grow as much as 7X.

“Keep your eyes on the prize, cowboy.”

Businesses are tempted to invest in newer, faster technology, believing that digital is the answer to stay ahead of change. But technology is only part of how the best adapt.

The Publicis Groupe has helped transform the McDonalds experience, by keeping people at the core. Not technology. In fact, developing an upgraded, new app was only the tip of the iceberg. The important question asked was what the app-enabled them to do. For instance, McDonald’s geo-fenced its locations so that the orders started getting prepared only when customers came within the radius of the fence. More importantly, the volumes of data now available allowed them to make intelligent decisions on pricing, product mix, customized promotions, improving the drive-through experience etc. McDonalds was able to understand and predict the evolving behaviour much faster than its competitors.

“This time it’s not just about being fast.” It is about S.P.E.E.D.

Companies have to develop the capability to create new sources of value in a fast(er) changing world. No matter how big your organization, business have to think like a (digital) start-up. And embrace five ‘SPEED’ capabilities (Strategy, Product, Experience, Engineering, and Data) to produce products, services, and experiences that drive both customer and business value.

1. Strategy: how can you apply your competitive advantage to unlock value for the customer.
2. Product: the importance of being in constant Beta mode in order to keep making continuous improvements.
3. Experience: Better designed product and service experience.
4. Engineering: Building a mechanism to deliver the experience through technology.
5. Data & AI: Having the ability to constantly learn how people are using the product and evolve. AI will help automate the entire process.

Disney+, another Publicis Groupe client, launched its successful digital streaming platform which has not only increased its relevance but transformed its business. During the 2020 Q2 earnings call, when the COVID crisis shut down revenue from its parks and cruises, Disney reported positive overall growth, much of which was attributed to Disney+. Now Disney will be able to offer their new customers more value from across the Disney experience.

“Ride or Die”

It does not matter how we do it. What matters at the end of the day, is what we do.

Strategy is Action. Sometimes, it is as unpredictable as an action movie. As Mike Tyson says, we all have a plan until we get punched in the face. Then we have to be willing to improvise, take risks and move really fast. In trying to keep pace with people’s expectations, things may occasionally blow up around us, but at least we will have fun in the process.

Inspired by Nigal Vaz’s (CEO of Publicis Sapient’s) new book Digital Business Transformation: How Established Companies Sustain Competitive Advantage From Now to Next.

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