By Jess Warrington, General Manager, North America for CloudBlue
COVID-19 has laid bare what industry experts have been trying to convey to corporate leaders for years: If you’re not successful with digital transformation, your company won’t survive.
On day one of the CloudBlue Innovators Virtual Forum – a gathering of thought leaders to discuss the most important trends in the cloud and subscription economy – Travelocity.com and Kayak.com Founder Terry Jones told thousands of attendees watching from home, “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” His keynote address highlighted how COVID-19 has forced companies to embrace digital transformation and provided best practices for companies to be successful.
Jones said that companies need to first adopt an innovation mindset. In order to do this, leaders must accept both risk and the failure that often accompanies risk. They should encourage experimentation and A/B testing and also listen to what their customers are asking for. The market will naturally pull companies in the direction of innovation, he inferred.
According to Jones, embracing innovation is a team effort. Managers should be open to hiring employees that may not fit the company mold upon first look. At Expedia.com, for example, just one team member was responsible for incorporating lodging and car-rental into their flight-booking platform, which ended up being the catalyst the company needed to surpass the competition.
Beyond culture, Jones also advocated that enterprises embrace fundamental changes in sales and operating models.
Companies should embrace subscription models, he said, highlighting companies like Dollar Shave Club that upended entire legacy industries simply by changing how they sell to customers.
In the B2B software space, subscriptions for cloud-based software have made contracts more convenient for end-users while also allowing vendors and providers attract more customers, increase ROI on customer acquisition costs, better predict revenue and decrease churn.
Another sales innovation Jones singled out was marketplaces – platforms that sell products or services from multiple third-party vendors. He highlighted his own company, Kayak.com, as one such marketplace that disrupted the travel industry.
Jones’ final plea to enterprises looking to stay relevant amid times of rapid digital disruption was to embrace technology. COVID-19, he explained, has accelerated technology adoption at a dizzying pace.
The effort to slow the spread of the virus allowed for new applications in robotics such as cleaning hospital floors and stocking supermarket shelves. It also increased the use of technology that keeps us connected like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts as workers went remote. Innovations in artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT) also pushed business forward during these uncertain times.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella famously said, “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.” Corporations, whether they are ready or not, are being forced to digitize as a means of survival.
For more insights, strategies and tools to help your business achieve greater success in the digital economy, check out more great presentations at the CloudBlue Innovators Virtual Forum here.