Today’s age of digital adaptation mandates innovation and quality – at great speed. Way back in 2000, Jack Welch, in GE’s Annual Report, warned us, “If the rate of change inside an institution is less than the rate of change outside, the end is in sight.”
For some companies, delivering innovation and quality simultaneously is exhilarating, while, for others, it’s a fast path to disaster. Consider these pivotal questions:
- Why is it that some companies can marry methods, such as Agile and DevOps, to continuously deliver successfully, while others struggle?
- What puts some companies at the forefront of market demand, while others strain to keep pace with the pack?
Success, it seems, often comes down to the ability to unleash technology’s inherent productivity. “. . . companies have been early adopters of these capabilities and have reaped the benefits. Amazon, for instance, can release code every ten seconds or so, update 10,000 servers at a time, and rollback website changes with a single system command,” as Satty Bhens, Ling Lau and Shar Markovitch of McKinsey point out.
While most companies’ leaders would love to bask in the reflected glory of these technology icons, the reality is most of us are not Amazon or Google. But, we can all learn from these market innovators that speed is an important factor in their success. They are constantly adapting and striving to be first to market.
To meet the speed-to-market demands digital adaptation presents, executives should consider:
- Building collaborative development organizations to expand market capabilities.
- Empowering a cross-functional mindset that bridges internal and external resources.
- Creating partnerships that flex and reflect the need for speed.
Collaboration is one of the keys to delivering software at speed in your business and getting it right the first time. For example, traditional brick and mortar financial institutions, under siege from digital-only startups, tapped internal development resources to create their own digital products and services – often carving out a competitive advantage for themselves in the process. Marcus, an online lending platform from Goldman Sachs is an example of how digital disruption re-energized collaborative internal development to expand the firm’s footprint in an underserved market segment.
Originally begun as a way for retail clients to refinance credit card debt, Marcus leverages Goldman Sachs’ technology expertise to appeal to its smaller segment of retail clients. Smaller banks have little incentive to help retail clients refinance debt, which was the driving factor behind Goldman Sachs effort to build the Marcus platform specifically for that purpose in 2016. Having a cross-functional mindset helped Goldman Sachs identify an untapped market opportunity and quickly develop a solution to meet that need. Today, Marcus has expanded from a one-product platform to a multi-product business, which has created a competitive advantage for Goldman Sachs.
Finally, consider combining internal skills with partner capabilities. With the precipitous growth of niche skills, the expense of hiring and retaining these resources on staff may not be feasible for the long term. Looking to partners for these skills allows you to flex your staffing as you grow and keep pace with market demands. In addition, supplementing internal resources with assistance from a partner can enable you to deliver to the marketplace a high-quality product quickly — likely ahead of your competition.
Today’s rate of marketplace change requires innovation and speed to market – a tough order for most companies to fulfill. However, taking a collaborative approach that unites internal and external resources behind shared goals can build the sustainable competitive advantage needed to prevail.