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Incumbents strike back in their fight against start-ups

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Digital transformation is affecting businesses. But it’s not a heart-stopping shakeup. It’s an eye-opening opportunity. Find new paths to Digital Reinvention™ in the 19th edition of the IBM Global C-suite Study “Incumbents Strike Back: Insights from the Global C-suite Study,” 

. Based on conversations with more than 12,854 CxOs worldwide, of which 3457 from Europe , it’s the most comprehensive study of its kind.

Explore the study to understand four imperatives critical to every business leader

  • the power of innovative incumbents, owning more than 80% of the World’s data, data is helping incumbent companies win the battle against the Amazons, Ubers, and Airbnbs.
  • new standards for customer-centricity,
  • the case for platform business model
  • and strategies for forming your own agile enterprise.

And then apply that new insight to reinvent and outperform.

Some key findings:

The study finds that industry incumbents are now the driving force for market disruption, moving fast to embrace platform business models, and shifting their cultures to create learning enterprises. For example:

  • 72 percent of surveyed CxOs claimed that incumbent organizations – rather than new entrants – are now leading the disruption in their industry. The ‘elephant’ companies are now learning to dance!
  • 46 percent of organizations are either investing in or considering a platform business model  – the remaining 54 percent will need to leverage others’ platforms. They leverage their data and new technologies such as , AI, cognitive, blockchain, IOT to transform their work processes (a great example is the Maersk & IBM blockchain joint venture announced recently ).
  • A substantial 43 percent of incumbents are likely to invest in AI/cognitive technologies to enable their strategic goals, compared to only 25 percent of other companies.
  • They feel more confident to understand unmet customer needs, enable their organization to go after such needs and succeed in the marketplace.
  • One factor that distinguishes the leaders segment – or the ‘Reinventors’ as they’re called in the C-suite study – is their focus on people and culture as the second most important driver for success. More than 70 percent of Reinventors said they have both an open culture and agile operations, they reach out to the organisation to get ideas and are open for experimentation within the organization.
  • People skills is an area that would most impact organizations on their digital journey, right after market factors and technology factors, our study found. This includes not only reducing skills gaps, but also investing in talent and developing the skills of management.

The study exemplifies how Reinventors apply these insights to outperform their peers and outperform, by

  • Dancing with disruption – how innovative incumbents are reshaping the competitive environment and the opportunities that lie ahead.
  • Creating a path to personalization. How leading organizations use design thinking to engage their customers and build bonds of trust.
  • Establishing a platform business models. How organizations operating a platform model are poised to evolve, and how they’re revamping their strategies as a result.
  • Setting Innovation in motion – how leaders are liberating employees to experiment in autonomous teams and collaborate with agility.

“Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance” was the title of the memoir of 1990s era IBM CEO Lou Gerstner, who brought IBM back from a near-death experience reinventing ourselves from a hardware supplier to cloud, data and services company.

The ‘elephant dance party’ has taken off – and you are invited!

For more thought leadership  from IBM Institute for Business Value, click here.

Research & Innovation Executive, IBM Research - IBM Watson

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