Digital transformation is nothing new. Companies we talk to every day have been trudging along on digital transformation journeys for close to 20 years. Despite spending trillions to add newer, more sophisticated digital initiatives to their agendas (with more projected over the next five years), few have been able to grow the way they hoped. A recent survey from the Harvard Business Review reports that only 20% of executives believe their transformation efforts have been effective in any way.

It’s not that all the steps they’ve taken have been misguided. Far from it. Many companies have made significant strides to optimize their existing businesses by using new digital tools and operations, cutting costs and launching new products along the way. But, as business environments change and customers along with them, what we’re finding is that simply adding new tech capabilities, data sets or rich omnichannel experiences without changing the way the business works will limit your company’s growth potential.

Moving Past the “Add-On” Digital Transformation Approach

The evidence we’ve collected by observing clients and conducting field research shows that growth must be an intentional goal of transformation, and achieving it requires businesses to move beyond the “add-on” approach of digital transformation. The add-on approach is a consequence of being overly preoccupied with a typical metric of many digital transformations – digital maturity. Digital maturity is measured by the number of tactics used to optimize the existing business and misses the point: long-term growth.  Digital maturity alone will not unlock what Prophet calls “uncommon growth”– the type of growth that is purposeful, transformational and sustainable over time.

Digital maturity alone will not unlock what Prophet calls ‘uncommon growth’– the type of growth that is purposeful, transformational and sustainable over time.

To unlock growth with digital transformation, firms must build on digital maturity to achieve convergence. Convergence is the approach of orchestrating digital transformation efforts around a singular purpose that has been reimagined for today’s customers and employees. Businesses that embrace convergence don’t just add new digital capabilities to solve existing problems, they use existing digital capabilities to work differently, solve new problems and deliver growth.

The progress of individual workstreams, specific digital projects and initiatives, and the building of shiny new capabilities is a known challenge. The more intractable part is getting people in your business to embrace a renewed purpose with digital tools, infuse new rituals into the DNA of the company –and then structure the workstreams that serve customers and unlock growth.  Successful transformations necessitate holistic, if more complicated point of view.

Without converging on a customer-and employee-led purpose, digital transformations are doomed. A business’ purpose must be central to this transformation because it defines the role the business plays in customers’ lives, the meaning of the work that its employees do and the impact that it has on society. As environments change, the purpose of the business needs to be continually re-examined to ensure its continued relevance. Global digital acceleration, sparked by mobile and boosted by the pandemic, is rapidly changing the expectations and behaviors of customers and employees – now the purpose needs to change along with it.

Convergent enterprises are the companies that understand the power of ongoing transformation. They have adopted a mindset that allows them to look beyond the add-on approach to digital maturity and pursue initiatives converged on a renewed purpose that incorporates customer and employee capabilities.

As a first step towards digital convergence, organizations must embrace the challenge of defining a renewed purpose. It doesn’t mean losing your authentic brand and value proposition. Rather it demands reimagining the business through a new lens, integrating digital capabilities throughout, and scaling the outcomes. And that must be done with creativity, empathy and action, not panic or cynicism.

How Best Buy is Rewiring Itself to Go Beyond Retail for Growth

Let’s take Best Buy, a Prophet client, as an example. Over 10 years ago, Best Buy and other big-box retailers began their digital transformation journeys with a determined focus on omnichannel retailing and effective e-commerce. As it moved toward streamlined online experiences, so did all its competitors. Instead of just pressing the “more digital commerce” button, Best Buy leadership realized that to find uncommon growth, they would need to start with a renewed purpose and converge digital capabilities around it. Reinvention had to be based not on how consumers wanted to shop at Best Buy but on why they were there in the first place.

That meant questioning everything from brand purpose to organizational structure to customer experience. By re-centering itself around helping customers make all of their technology work together – not just sell them more stuff – they located an addressable problem that was way bigger than the market they originally sought to capture. They extended their subscription services, installation packages and extended warrantee offerings to the consumer while reimagining their square footage as experiential media opportunities for their manufacturer partners.

By expanding the borders of its value proposition and building a moat around proprietary digital tools, Best Buy continues to build a convergent enterprise limited only by its imagination and poised for sustainable growth. The results so far are astonishing. In its latest quarterly results, revenues have steadily increased 24% over the last five years.

Convergence Moves for Growth

Increasingly, leaders are thinking more like Best Buy, recognizing that convergence means committing to a purpose that serves the whole customer, even if that means challenging strategic direction and corporate priorities. They know success is as dependent on human-centered elements, such as organization design, culture, leadership, and operating models, as it is on technology initiatives. In fact, 90% say COVID-19 has forced them to re-evaluate the human component of digital. We think that’s just the beginning.

Ready to learn how to become a convergent enterprise? Read this blog post.  

Prophet is a convergence accelerator and purpose-led transformation consultancy that will help you reimagine your firm, integrate and scale digital investments, and drive real, defensible growth. We believe that to accelerate convergence we take your existing assets – such as data, brand, culture, business models – reimagine them for today’s customers and employees and look for new ways to integrate capabilities and talent with a reimagined sense of purpose. Then, we drive towards scale.

Get in touch today if you’d like to learn how to bring digital convergence moves to grow your organization.