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COVID has revealed the essential value of the digital ‘pivot’

April 27, 2021, 3:30 PM UTC
"As the economy continues to return to a pre-pandemic, growth-oriented state, embracing a technology and business strategy designed for quick pivots will continue to prove valuable," writes Ayman Sayed.
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Business agility has proven to be a cornerstone of success in any industry. The past year has made the ability to pivot and innovate—despite supply chain, workforce, and economic disruptions—an absolute business necessity. And as a result, we’re seeing increased innovation in how companies operate, all built on technology investments with incredible stories of reinvention that attest to the importance of the pivot for future success.

BMC was already on a path to becoming what we call an Autonomous Digital Enterprise (ADE)—an organization that embraces intelligent, tech-enabled systems across every facet of the business. But the outbreak of COVID-19 required us to make quick adjustments. We quickly pivoted our business to focus on helping our customers make their pivots. We knew we had a responsibility to support our customers’ transitions to remote working, dispersed IT and operations. Making this pivot shifted our relationship with some of our largest, global customers, and today, we continue to partner on their transformation efforts—building on the quick response to support their needs when the pandemic began.

We had a solid strategy, and we continue to execute on it, but making a quick shift that allowed us to support a major global and industry challenge is reshaping how we move forward as a strategic technology partner to our customers.

The impacts of successful pivots are evident across industries. 

Tampa General Hospital (TGH) is a great healthcare example. TGH adopted BMC Control-M automation technology to support internal operational efficiency. The hospital was able to orchestrate data from dozens of workflows inside and outside of the hospital so that its analytics team could focus on patient care and hospitals operations. 

In March 2020, the TGH analytics team saw a need to extend their technology capabilities for data sharing across the Tampa-area hospital system of more than 50 hospitals for better patient care amid the rising pandemic. The team created the automated workflows to share data on critical care equipment and availability, staff and expert availability, as well as forecasting capabilities to support the entire region. A quick pivot from internal focus to supporting the healthcare needs of their entire community was only possible because of the thoughtful investment in technology and the ability to leverage that investment for a new use case. TGH is now not only recognized as an award-winning healthcare provider, but also regarded as an innovator in health services. 

The ability to pivot is not just applicable to large organizations with deep pockets for technology investments. Small and medium-sized retailers, restaurants, and breweries have also had to shift quickly to rethink their business models. Those who had started to digitize their in-person business or had invested in a digital model quickly shifted to online sales, takeout, and local delivery services to stay afloat.

Snipes USA, a chain retailer with 100 stores, has seen an uplift in its revenues during the pandemic. The company was able to capitalize on a movement toward and growing interest in leisure wear, and better managed its inventory with an investment in technology that created a transcendent customer experience in digital and online shopping. New and existing investments in technology paid off as the business did a quick pivot from an in-person sales focus to online retail in just two days—implementing everything from a data-driven, personalized customer experience online to seamless payment transactions and optimized supply and logistics. 

Not every business has been so lucky. A September Fortune article estimated that nearly 100,000 businesses that shut down in 2020 are permanently out of business. And technology would not have necessarily saved them all. But the ability to pivot an organization’s focus and execution, with technology supporting speed and efficiency in the process, has demonstrated a clear value in helping businesses stay open.  

Disruption has become the norm more than anything else, and as leaders, we must build our business to be agile, customer-centric, and data-driven to support pivots as needed.

A technology strategy that is aligned to and intricately woven into a business strategy built on agility, customer-centricity, and actionable insights can set up a company for future success. These three characteristics are at the heart of every Autonomous Digital Enterprise. Every ADE is founded on common operating principles and technology tenets to support quick business pivots. An ADE takes advantage of artificial intelligence and automation wherever it can to eliminate manual repetitive tasks and run systems with as little interaction as possible. This helps build the scale and resiliency needed to be successful and react or respond quickly when required.

Naturally, the increased use of automation and A.I. will bring challenges in talent and culture. But let me be clear: An ADE maximizes the value of people and technology together. The liberal use of automation will give people the opportunity to work on higher order work that solves problems creatively and drive innovation in the organization. 

We can see this playout in the TGH and Snipes examples. For TGH, the manual process of data collection and validation was automated, cutting down the time needed to generate the insights that supported hospital operations. When applied across the Tampa area network of hospitals, healthcare providers could support the area’s patient needs and anticipate possible challenges. At Snipes, the use of software to automate detecting fraudulent credit card purchases freed up customer service employees to focus on the customer experience.

As the economy continues to shift and return to a pre-pandemic, growth-oriented state, embracing a technology and business strategy designed for quick pivots will continue to prove valuable. With every market disruption and industry shift, opportunities will emerge for the organizations that are nimble enough to recognize and act quickly. The future enterprise that will gain the most during changing times will be the one that can successfully run its business as it continues to reinvent for the future—the Autonomous Digital Enterprise.

Ayman Sayed is the CEO of BMC Software. To learn more about the Autonomous Digital Enterprise, visit: www.bmc.com/ade.

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