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Arriving now: The transformation leader's 2024 agenda
Six topics shaping the transformation agenda
As business success increasingly depends on being outcomes obsessed, transformation tops most growth agendas. To fuel profitability, leaders look to you as the chief transformation officer to cultivate ambitious strategies to help create sustainable value for shareholders.
Today’s transformations require more than managing costs and risks, but aligning disconnected initiatives and siloed executive priorities can be difficult. Failed transformations come with a cost, including diminished trust and market share. You may even juggle dual roles: orchestrating enterprise transformation initiatives while leading a business function.
Regardless of how your role is structured, you should clearly know how to engage your organization in co-creating new ways of working, prioritizing tech adoption and upskilling. When processes, people and infrastructure are aligned, outcomes, ROI and agility should follow.
Volatile economic and business environments too often lead to a focus on immediate needs, pushing strategic goals aside. As the transformation leader, you’re instrumental in keeping the focus on what matters most: sustainable outcomes. To help drive performance and create sustainable value, look at how top-performing companies regularly reinvent themselves: by recognizing threats and opportunities and acting on them, transforming their business, operating and technology models and applying their transformative investments end-to-end. Agility and speed are the new practice — and by embracing continual change, you can pivot quickly while addressing the global issues your stakeholders care about, such as climate change and evolving healthcare.
What does it take to be outcomes obsessed? Start by identifying your business’s purpose and place in the value chain. Determine the challenges your company wants to address, remove obstacles to growth and develop a clear and focused value proposition, leveraging the latest technologies — like AI and the metaverse — to deliver the experiences your customers seek. Perhaps most importantly, work with your CHRO to build a culture that empowers leaders and employees to embrace change. A managed services model may also be a viable option to help increase agility at scale.
As a fully integrated member of the executive team, today’s chief transformation officer is increasingly asked to be a galvanizing leader who helps drive rapid transformation. The key to accelerating these outcomes? Fast-tracking investments like generative AI, cloud and advanced analytics as well as the digital upskilling of your workforce. Look into leveraging generative AI to unlock business value, along with the digital capabilities and resources your organization may already have available via strategic alliance relationships with cloud providers. In fact, top-performing companies are more likely to have become “cloud-powered”: reinventing their business through cloud to cut costs, improve resilience, drive new revenue — and the list goes on.
To achieve measurable outcomes, transformation leaders can collaborate with CIOs on a cloud-powered plan — synchronizing key functions of transformation planning, budgeting and requirements gathering. Technology and transformation leaders can inform their C-suite peers on how they identify risks related to data, transaction and transformation initiatives. Look to your tax leader to identify R&D credits, which can fund a technology enhancement. With your CHRO, consider how flexible access to specialized skills through managed services can help sustain innovation.
For chief transformation officers, elevating and connecting the company’s customer and employee experiences can be a huge opportunity: They’re two of your most important audiences. The ability to deliver a unique and positive customer experience — a key piece of the customer retention puzzle — is crucial to driving your market differentiation. In fact, 37% of consumers cited a bad experience as their reason for leaving a company, according to PwC’s 2023 Customer Loyalty Executive Survey. Often connecting the dots on customer experience is easier said than done. Executives may not have a pulse on what matters most to consumers and what keeps them coming back to your company. Understanding these discrepancies can help you better focus loyalty efforts and investments.
Work closely with your CMO, CHRO and CEO to build your customer-centricity model from your brand strategy and purpose. But remember: A strong customer experience doesn’t just rely on happy consumers. Be aware of how your employees feel and what points of interaction they have with your consumers. Empower your employees to take a data-driven approach to continuously improve the customer experience. Bringing customer centricity and employee satisfaction into focus for your organization can significantly impact long-term loyalty — and recurring revenue streams.
Global recession concerns, rising interest rates, stock market volatility, geopolitical unrest and other disruptors have transformation leaders rethinking how to drive profitable growth. Current markets demand decisions that are swift but also can be responsibly funded. To deliver the returns your shareholders expect, today’s strategies require proactive portfolio optimization and operational choices to deliver faster investment returns. Savvy transformation leaders are teeing up the C-suite to make strategic and often tough decisions on operating models, business portfolios and standardization efforts.
The probability of a positive total shareholder return is 99.5% when companies proactively review their portfolio and consider and complete divestitures via timely decision-making. Initiating a proactive portfolio optimization review takes collective teamwork from your CFO, M&A teams, business development and other key groups. Savvy business executives are looking at options to balance profitability with long-term success, including mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, organizational structures and operational processes.
With an ever-growing focus on environmental standards, consumers and employees are prepared to reward brands that share their values. As market attention continues to intensify, leading companies view their climate investments as not just a business imperative but a key differentiator. To keep pace, you may need to examine how your business operates and identify opportunities to embed sustainability strategies across decision-making, processes, culture and daily operations.
It’s imperative that companies proactively align on the sustainability topics that are material to them and proactively engage in strategic discussions around long-term value. Consider starting by understanding how each functional leader and department within your organization thinks and acts about climate initiatives — and how you can bring them together in a cohesive business strategy. For example, consider how you can collaborate on standards and frameworks across teams, or work with your CIO and CFO to establish cloud-based measurement and tracking, as well as stakeholder reporting cadence and compliance.
Business executives, consumers and employees overwhelmingly agree that organizations have a responsibility to build trust, PwC’s 2023 Trust Survey found. But many organizations lag behind. Only 34% of employees and 45% of business executives surveyed said their leaders give appropriate attention to earning trust. Add the fact that executives find conflicting trust priorities from stakeholders a top challenge, and your role as chief transformation officer in trust initiatives becomes a challenge. There’s a lot to address, and how your business responds to and communicates on the latest societal issues, emerging AI technologies, data and privacy concerns and work-life balance all affect trust.
To transform how your business views trust, start by confirming your executive team agrees on its importance. Identify what matters most to all of your stakeholders, even if they are at odds, and work with your team to define what trust means for your business transformation. Embedding trust plans into corporate strategy can be more successful with a dedicated framework, goals, outcome measurements and room to adjust as external factors impact your business. Clear, empathetic and transparent communications are important trust factors across all stakeholders.