An Approach to Effective SMAC Adoption within Captives

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Today’s marketplace has undergone a radical shift in terms of their digital intent and SMAC has been at the forefront for this disruptive overhaul of how businesses operate. Unarguably, these Influential factors are touted as the next wave for the technology industry. SMAC is leading the charge not only on the disruption front but forms the next generation business enabler capable enough to rehash business processes and bracing up organizations to more innovative in terms of how they increase customer engagement or employee productivity. Key to making SMAC deliver to its truest potential is to see it as a holistic intent, not just “bolted on” or forced down the throat, but an integral part of the business knit closely enough, making it impossible to separate out the effect of any of Social, Mobile, Analytics or Cloud in isolation and see them in entirety. To put it simply, imagine the 4 pillars for each of S,M,A,C with a thin glass sheet placed on the top. The business can seamlessly access this SMAC interface without actually knowing the true interplay of technologies beneath, and yet realizing all the possible benefits.

When social, mobile, analytics and cloud are integrated within the business model, the functionalities of each technology have a cumulative effect that is more “connective, collaborative, real-time and productive. Despite the visible benefits the adoption of SMAC within captives has been more or less lackadaisical, with even the success stories not being received well in the right spirit. Even though we observe that traditional operating models are being rejigged, we don’t see enough inspiring captive stories around SMAC, with Digital footprints now slowly starting to permeate to the core. Captives need to be the forbearers of this change & ride the SMAC disruption to emerge as true winners or risk their existence to more nimble & agile competitors like the niche boutique firms or pure play equipped with cost effective state-of-the-art technology, backed by heavy investments.

Imperative is for business leaders to understand the business needs in & out, scan the external environment of how SMAC is being adopted across other players in the industry (and otherwise), summarize the learning which make sense of the business, uncover high impact areas & understand the impact on people & processes, and lead the change over time.

High learning curve is one of the common deterrents to any change. Fortunately in today’s world, not only customer but employees to a great extent employ social and mobile technologies in their day-to-day personal lives. Hence, on the face of it, delivering seamless experience on the business side may not be that big a challenge. Convincing senior management to trust in SMAC technologies or bank upon the insights being generated out of SMAC initiatives may be huge ask. To make it even worse, Naysayers may come out with frequent questions around “Is it just another buzzword” or “What’s in it for me” or “Is investment in SMAC justified” or ”Is it applicable to our business/industry” but umpteen examples exist today testifying for success of SMAC initiatives. Initial pilots & starting out with the right pockets of business to establish credibility may be the key here for widespread adoption. Question the underlying assumptions & you may see a whole different perspective to what SMAC can enable !

Inertia in the initial phases may also be due to some bitter experiences from unsuccessful initiatives from the past & your SMAC intent may fall prey to that. The answer here might be to understand the nuances from past failures, reflecting upon the new learnings which could be taken forward in subsequent technology roll-outs.

SMAC has been all pervasive and affecting businesses across key dimensions around customer experience, data-driven business models, streamlined operations and more productive, collaborative workforce. Alienating one’s business from these radical technological shifts is no more an option but a necessity. The intent, scale and roll out plan should be calibrated based on the business need and alignment with the overall strategy of the business. Embracing this new technology is need of the hour & transforming business today means harnessing the multiplying effect of the SMAC stack.

The SMAC stack will help businesses untether tightly-coupled value chains, fade business boundaries between key stakeholders, transform key processes and overhaul the operating rhythm of the business to attain newer levels.

In the context of captives, there are two complimentary ways in which SMAC approach can be planned out and may reap business benefits:

  • Captive-driven SMAC Initiative
  • Organization-driven SMAC Initiative (driven by the larger business)

 

Captive-driven SMAC Initiative

 

Carving out a Digital Journey Roadmap:

Enabling a digital transformation ecosystem, with strong commitment & involvement from the leadership is the first stepping stone in this direction. Given that the complexity level of SMAC change may vary drastically business-to-businesses, it’s imperative for business leaders to give appropriate time and resources to the SMAC-led interventions. Captive being the drivers of SMAC here means buy-in from the larger organization, the intent & business need should be sorted out well in advance and function/LOB owners should be informed well enough as the SMAC effect spillover may extend well beyond to multiple functions including sales, HR, marketing, IT etc.

Initial assessment study to uncover SMAC intent can entail:

  • Conduct workshop & invite business owners across the board to assess digital maturity across 3 key pillars i.e. people, processes & technologies and gauge initial adoption curve across SMAC solutions. This session could be curated by emerging technology SME’s and senior business strategists or even external consulting agencies, with the intent to look at how SMAC technologies are impacting businesses and help uncover the immediate and long term opportunities lying untapped. During this interactive session, critical questions can be put forth pertaining to the existing business environment:
    1. How are social, mobile, analytics and cloud technologies affecting our industry or even others with a similar underlying business model?
    2. What are the key areas in the business that would see maximum impact of SMAC technologies?
    3. Which are the key processes suited well for an integrated SMAC approach?

The outcome of session is to clearly articulate the “first step” on the journey towards creating new business models enabled by an integrated approach to SMAC technologies.

  • Identifying key priority areas with high visibility
  • Assess the SMAC maturity of the overall industry, especially competition and their moves
  • Crafting capability heat maps based on where the organization aspires to be and in line with forward-looking strategies

Post detailed assessment, business can lay down a roadmap encapsulating short & long-term objectives, identifying priority areas, key evaluation metrics to track progress, toll gate & governance frameworks to ensure adherence to the timelines/objectives stated. Jumping too early straight away without thoughtful mulling over on a well-laid out digital & SMAC strategy could derail the intent of the exercise and may fail to deliver the desired results. Just following the footsteps of organizations who already have SMAC as part of their business-as-usual without appropriate customizations could again mean scripting for failure.

 

Business Alignment

It is imperative for businesses to understand that the stepping stone in the direction of making a fruitful SMAC investment is to identify the right investment areas, ones which are high priority for the business and sizeable ROI could be conveyed in a short span for making a case for wider rollout. Concrete, quantifiable ROI numbers with defined metrics to track returns is the key here to reap intended dividends.

What impedes garnering SMAC investments & gaining widespread adoption is pretty much similar to those encountered during other IT implementations.

  • Carving out right set of measurable KPI’s and metrics to be track progress & alignment to the set objectives
  • SMAC initiatives encompass multiple stakeholders across business functions and hence getting leadership buy-in from these business function owners, or even data managers and other gatekeepers who could help streamline the roll out is critical. Setting right set of KPIs and responsibility areas , both at individual and collective levels is crucial again.
  • Governance & Oversight ensures short & long-term objectives are met during and after implementation of SMAC initiatives. Make sure you have a steering committee consisting of leaders from within the captive & the larger business, and a governance body to operationalize.

Setting up a SMAC Center of Excellence

A highly recommended approach to widespread adoption of SMAC is to set up a SMAC center of excellence. Given the ever-evolving nature of the SMAC industry, where there are constant innovations and new tools/technologies/platforms sprouting up, across industries, it’s imperative to effectively cross-pollinate ideas with the business on a continual basis to ensure relevance & increased impact. Even the competition is making swift moves to get an edge over the rest & it’s crucial to stay tuned in to those changes so that you know where you stack up against peers in the industry, and react accordingly. SMAC COE could also enable proactive strategies for sustained competitive differentiation.

Companies should craft incubation centers which could seed in relevant ideas post thorough evaluation and after doing small scale pilots which seem worthwhile investing in for wider adoption. Reusable assets across the organization can be brought under the same hood, knowledge management repositories etc can be updated on a periodic basis so that learnings from these pilots could easily be replicated across other functional units.

 

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Organization-driven SMAC Initiatives

There are several larger businesses adopting SMAC and captives should embark upon some similar SMAC initiatives, avoiding reinventing the wheel. Understand in detail about the broad scale SMAC rollout, summarize successes and failures from the past, cull out the requisite documents from existing knowledge repositories and see what all can be reused to suit the captive cause.

Globally-driven SMAC initiatives undertaken should focus on the following aspects:

  • Establish synergy of SMAC initiative offered by larger business units with your digital strategy. The initial fitment analysis exercise should be carried out, keeping in mind the captive operating imperative and how it would eventually help captive cut costs, increase productivity or even augment larger business with strategic insights. Several other assessments such as process off-shorability investigation, cost evaluation, policy formulation, vendor evaluation, cost benefit analysis, governance model, change management strategies, testing strategy, program & project plan, SMAC architecture etc all needs to be set in line keeping wider organization into perspective.
  • Evaluate ROI of running your own SMAC initiative as a spate business unit. In such cases, potential synergies or even roadblocks need to be thought through well. Who shall be funding the initiative? And who shall be supporting the ongoing investments as there may be overlaps with SMAC initiatives running within the global organization. At times, it may be slightly challenging to clearly demarcate the initial cost of developing a SMAC solution when multiple entities are involved. Who shall be the primary beneficiary & who bears the brunt incase the roll out doesn’t go as intended. Hence, defining ROI at initial stages, identifying stakeholders and putting in place a robust risk mitigation plan is crucial before any investments are done.

 

 

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