Digital Transformation: “Start with a Why”

As an inherent part of its sales process, Intelllore as a “Technology Services” provider, is often in front of its customers in a consultative role, advising them about their digital transformation initiatives. Over the past 3 to 4 years, many companies have taken the first step in their digital transformation journey and did earmark a small portion of their R & D budget for the same. However, when we interacted with these companies a year or two of after kick-starting this initiative, there was a common thread – most of these projects did not move beyond the POC (Proof of Concept) phase.  

Here are two representative examples – One of the companies had an established product and before moving to “product-as -a service” were launching a cloud-based “remote-monitoring software” to go along with this product. They were able to sell only 2 software licenses and had to give this software product free to many customers. Another company, a leader in downhole drilling products and systems, could not sell “value” in their after-market services. Their biggest pain-point was that none of their customers paid for their services and firmware updates. Their mission, to digitally transform the product to monetize their services. The company is struggling even to define and launch the POC project.  

When analyzing this VOC (Voice of Customer), we are reminded of the famous book “Start with Why:  How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” by Simon Sinek, a British-American author, motivational speaker, and organizational consultant. Companies with inspirational leadership identify a purpose and follow it. The actions they take and what they make is secondary to achieving their mission. Sinek calls this leadership process the “Golden Circle”: It starts with a vision (the “Why”), then moves to implementation (the “How”), and then conquers the product or service (the “What”). Unfortunately, many companies and leaders have this pattern backward. They first focus on what they do and how; then they try to differentiate their product based on price, quality or features.  

The excerpts below, from Simon Sinek’s book, aptly analyze why the digital transformation initiatives (projects) in many companies did not move beyond the POC phase. 

If a company sincerely believes that “Digital Transformation” is the way ahead, their internal and external message has to start with WHY, a purpose, cause or belief that has nothing to do with WHAT they do. What they do – the products that they make, no longer serves as the reason to buy, they serve as the tangible proof of their cause. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. 

Organizations use the tangible features and benefits to build a rational argument for why their company, product or idea is better than another. Companies try to sell us WHAT they do, but we buy WHY they do it. When communicating from the inside and out, the WHY is offered as the reason to buy and the WHAT serves as the tangible proof of that belief. 

Recently, Apple Computers created history. Their market capitalization touched 1 Trillion dollars. Apple’s competitors lost their cause, they turned from companies with a cause into a company that sold products. And when that happens, price, quality, service and features become the primary currency to motivate a purchase decision. At that point a company and its products have become commodities. 

If a customer feels inspired rather than manipulated to buy a product, they will be able to verbalize the reasons why they think what they bought is better. It is the cause that is represented by the company, brand, product or person that inspires loyalty.  

Instead of asking “WHAT should we do to compete?” the questions must be asked, “WHY did we start doing WHAT we´re doing in the first place, and WHAT can we do to bring our cause to life considering all the technologies and market opportunities available today?” 

Those who know WHY need those who know HOW. That’s where Intellore comes in the picture and our tagline “Your Vision, Our Mission” says it all – Your Vision (The “Why”), Our Mission (“The How” and “what”)!

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