Nigel Vaz, CEO of Publicis Sapient shares the concept of SPEED from his book (“Digital Business Transformation”)– the fundamental capabilities that companies will build on and evolve to create powerful digital products, services and experiences. This is the third article in a series on digital transformation; the first introduced 10 attributes of successful business transformation and the second focused how businesses can take the transformation plunge.
In this article, Vaz shares insight on why SPEED is important. He indicates that: “SPEED is an acronym that stands for: Strategy: developing and testing your hypothesis on priority value pools, Product: evolving at pace and speed, Experience: how can you enable value for customers, Engineering: delivering on your promise, and Data: validating your hypotheses and uncovering insights for constant iteration.
Vaz suggests that SPEED helps firms improve their digital transformation. “One of the most common mistakes companies make around digital business transformation is they make large investments in technology but don’t see the return they’re expecting. This is because digital business transformation is not about technology, in fact it’s not about any particular capability. Every digital business transformation should ultimately drive 2 goals:
1. Creating an organization that can continually change at pace with changes around it, and
2. Constructing the capability to identify and realze value through digital for your customers and your business”
Vaz suggests that “the second goal is where SPEED comes in. While it is rooted in five capabilities; namely, strategy, product, experience, engineering and data, these capabilities are collectively employed to help companies create value in a world that’s digital. SPEED is the common capability set that digitally native companies (and especially the digital disruptors we often hear about) use to not only create incredible products and services, but that they use to continuously evolve them and themselves to keep pace with an ever-changing customer and technology.
Finally, like with all business challenges, the success of SPEED is informed by the problem it is trying to solve. Digital business transformation is a vast area, and each company’s challenges are different. With the SPEED frame in mind, companies can start to piece together the components that will enable them to create new sources of value and be competitive in a digital context, while also thinking about the culture, approach, and ways of working that will connect across. It also provides a lens to look at the core capabilities they need to have in house versus where they may leverage a broader partner ecosystem to bring ideas to life.”
Below is an excerpt from Vaz’ book: “Digital Business Transformation”.
“The foundation of a digital business is rooted in five SPEED capabilities: strategy, product, experience, engineering and data. “SPEED stands for all of these things coming together. Our belief is if our customers can use these capabilities to help themselves improve upon how they engage with the word digitally, it creates real competitive advantage.
These capabilities cannot be built and operated in isolation. Together, they can unlock virtually limitless digital potential. Siloed, they will help somewhat in specific instances but fail to reach the level of digital transformation.
If you have an unbelievable focus on experience but no discipline about the engineering of that, your experiences are never going to be world-leading,” Vaz explained. “If you have a clear focus on engineering and experience, but you don’t have this idea of a continuous beta or continuous improvement instilled in this mindset around product, again you have challenges.
Every element of SPEED needs to reinforce the ultimate goal of unlocking value. Businesses need to clarify what problem needs to be solved and then bringing laser focus to it in a way that benefits the customers and themselves. That’s why Vaz doesn’t think of SPEED as a collection of individual capabilities but as a “way of being.
“I think what digital business transformation is fundamentally about is helping companies get into a state – a state of mind and the state of being – that allows them to create and sustain this competitive advantage that needs them to move at ever increasing rates,” Vaz said.
The challenge established businesses face is what made them successful in the past may actually hold back their future success. For instance, decision-making power cannot be the exclusive purview on people at the top of centralized power structures. Similarly, businesses cannot expect to be as nimble and responsive when their various departments are essentially siloed. These may sound like easy concepts to grasp but – as Vaz pointed out – are exceptionally difficult to implement in companies that have relied on the same models for years, if not decades.
How does a business reorganize workers from different parts of the business around a particular customer’s journey? How does it ensure budgets go to points of need to create the most value rather than the most politically savvy and powerful departments? And how does it build a culture of intellectual curiosity?
Vaz encouraged fostering a culture that trades people who want to “know it all” to people who want to “learn it all.” “The role of culture in the context of transforming your business is absolutely critical,” he said.
Being successful in business has often meant understanding what’s been successful throughout its history, but this can misfire. Today, companies need to constantly learn, unlearn and relearn to transform.”
By Kimberly A. Whitler