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Nigel Fenwick and Nigel Vaz having a conversation


Five Little-known Truths about Digital Business Transformation

Forrester's Nigel Fenwick and Publicis Sapient's Nigel Vaz expose the secrets of a successful transformation 

On August 20, 2019, guest Nigel Fenwick, Vice President and Principal Analyst, Forrester, sat down with Nigel Vaz, CEO of Publicis Sapient, to discuss the current state of digital business transformation. A buzzword perhaps, but digital business transformation remains a key strategic focus for organizations around the world—and will continue to be moving forward as the boundaries of what’s possible expand and companies become more digitally savvy.

Both are deeply knowledgeable about digital business transformation, but come at it from entirely different perspectives: Nigel Fenwick as a leading industry analyst and advisor and Nigel Vaz as the head of a global consulting firm. The conversation begins by making an important distinction between a digitized business, which applies technology to existing business models, leading to optimized processes, cost reduction and productivity gains, and a digital business, that leverages software to drive revenue growth, resulting in new business opportunities. It continues with anecdotes and lessons learned from two experts who’ve each played pivotal roles in helping companies shift to a digital business model.

During their time together, Nigel Fenwick and Nigel Vaz unearth five little-known, yet powerful, truths about digital business transformation. Understanding them could be the determining factor for success as companies continue to refine, innovate and reinvent their businesses. Here are our takeaways from the conversation:

1. Product-centric companies must become software and engineering organizations. Transitioning to a digital business is not easy—particularly for traditional product companies. They will need to make the shift from a company that produces products to a software business that also produces physical products—able to turn capability into revenue. Why the shift to a software business mindset? Product companies typically think linearly with a clear beginning and end to product development. Software development and management, on the hand, is continuous and ever evolving, adding new functionality and incremental changes as a reaction to customer, business and market demands. The ability to continually pivot and improve upon oneself is at the heart of digital transformation. Organizations will also need to change how they bring new capabilities and functionality on board. Most have used a systems integration approach, stitching together “best in class” products, but that model no longer works in the digital world. Companies need to adapt an engineering mindset that drives bespoke solutions designed to create a competitive advantage. 


Adriana Miller


Product-centric companies must become software and engineering organizations.

2. The CEO is the number one contributor to a successful transformation. For traditional businesses, digital transformation is as much about culture as it is about process and technology. And for a company that is making such a significant shift—from a product to a software company with an engineering mindset—that change needs to be driven from the top. Only the CEO has the holistic oversight needed to drive the level of change required to be successful. 

The CEO is the number one contributor to a successful transformation.

3. Customer experience and digital business transformation are intrinsically linked. The need to create better customer experiences was one of the early drivers of digital business transformation, and it remains a critical element today. In fact, consumers now expect a much more tailored customer experience from every brand interaction, raising the bar and making it more difficult for organizations to keep up.   

Customer experience and digital business transformation are intrinsically linked.

4. Creativity is at the heart of true transformation. For decades, companies viewed creativity as a design capability. Today, however, creativity is needed to help companies see beyond the confines of today’s world as they reimagine their businesses. Ultimately, organizations need creativity to drive the flow of ideas they can then scale into products that are ready for a global marketplace.   

Creativity is at the heart of true transformation.

5. Innovation should happen in every corner of the business. Organizations have long touted their centers of excellence and innovation labs, which were important for cultivating forward-looking concepts and models. But for today’s digital organizations, innovation can’t be relegated to specific areas of the business. People across the enterprise and at all levels should be pushing the boundaries, exploring new ideas and testing new technologies. The spirit of innovation must absolutely become a fundamental element of the company’s culture.

Innovation should happen in every corner of the business.

As a final thought, Nigel Vaz reminds us about the truly collaborative nature of digital business transformation—one in which business leaders and partners must work together to pave the road between now and next. 

Collaborative nature of digital business transformation.