Presented by Cognizant
Digital disruptors need operational agility to outperform competition and capture their full market potential. In this VB Spotlight, learn how to identify opportunities to scale operations efficiently, maintain momentum while evolving your product and more!
A digital disruptor is a breed of company using IT and digital technology to upend many of the long-standing industries that have existed for many years, including transportation, hospitality, financial services, even healthcare. Traditional enterprises are always on the lookout for ways to compete with these new, leaner, meaner upstarts — so how does an upstart manage their growth, and overcome the challenges that comes from redefining an entire market?
“When you’re doing something bold and exciting, typically it comes with a set of unique opportunities and challenges,” says Praveen Raja, head of digital health, business processes services at Cognizant. “You’re adding customers, revenue at a very fast clip — but on the flip side you may have more customers in your pipeline than is possible to support through your operational capacity. Your operations have become a bottleneck that is gating further growth and onboarding of these customers.”
Uncovering operational challenges
Operational challenges commonly center around things like the talent bottleneck — identifying, landing and onboarding the right talent. There are overcomplex operations processes, often because they’ve been jury rigged on the fly as a small company grows larger, and that bill comes due when you need to scale. And then there’s identifying the tools and technologies that can deliver on the productivity and efficiency a company needs to have at scale .
“When you add up all these things, it also translates to cost,” Raja says. “Cost cannot scale at the same rate as growth of customers. How do you grow your operations without scaling your cost in a linear fashion? Those are some of the bottlenecks we work with and partner around. We design solutions to unblock those operational hurdles.”
The three key elements in scaling
There are three critical areas to consider when scaling, says Michael Chittaro, fintech practice head, business process services, at Cognizant: people, process, and technology. First, talent is core to the growth of a digital disruptor, but soon they reach an inflection point where they need to find a way to hire more efficiently and more cost-effectively, such as by outsourcing. Second, to manage complex functions and processes effectively, technology has to be chosen and applied thoughtfully.
And then finally, process — the grease that makes a company hum. The companies that manage processes well are the ones that have good workforce, transition and vendor management, as well as training processes in place.
“Digital disruptors do speed to market really well, but when you think about process efficiencies, there’s really no silver bullet,” Chittaro says. “When we talk to clients, we think of a very simple process. Start small. Prove it out. Manage it to maturity and then expand. A lot of companies think, should I outsource my customer service organization 100 percent? No, especially when it comes to more complex functions, more complex operations.”
For example, you need to do due diligence to understand a company’s perspective, and what a company is aiming to achieve in both the short and long term. From there, you must build objectives, create a pilot, decide how those operations need to look like over the next six months, and then create a road map to expand the business. But it’s not one-and-done — a company has to be constantly evaluating and updating that map to ensure the company is aimed in the right direction.
Staying flexible to maintain momentum
“We have to have plans. We have forecasts. But at the same time, the digital native companies that we work with have businesses that are extraordinarily dynamic,” Raja says. “We have to be able to turn on a dime, to change things. That’s at the heart of how we build our governance models. We develop a collaborative model where we work with our partners in such a way, an ongoing basis, a daily basis, where we take stock of how the business is moving.”
That includes not only the operational level meetings on a daily basis and weekly basis, but a more broad, strategic look at the business, and planning accordingly from there.
And for digital native companies, whose whole value proposition is product innovation, one of the basic advantages of solving operational bottlenecks, streamlining operations and saving costs is that those savings are then freed for reinvestment in your product.
Unlocking growth with collaboration
But there’s also a second type of freeing up, which is the focus of the company and the energies of the company.
“If you have huge operational bottlenecks and you’re held down a bit by operational issues, it takes the focus away from the innovation and the customer growth that needs to happen, that’s the cutting-edge market-defining aspect of these companies,” Raja says. “One advantage of partnerships with us is that we can be that operations partner and free them up so they can focus on their core business.”
The other key benefit is gaining the right talent, a partner to help define and develop the technology pieces a company needs to grow, and front-line insights into customer wants, needs, and pain points to help inform the product innovation road map.
In the end, though many disruptive companies feel like their bespoke processes are unique, and uniquely difficult to manage, underneath it all, they nearly always share common challenges and solutions to those challenges, and can be outsourced effectively.
“That’s going to be one of the keys as these companies begin to grow, from a market expansion perspective, from a global expansion perspective,” Chittaro says. “Identifying those tools, those processes that can be standardized to more effectively grow and scale.”
To learn more about how digital disruptors can eliminate operational bottlenecks, how talent shapes the future of your company and where to find it, plus more insights into product innovation and automation, don’t miss this on-demand event.
- Avoiding operational bottlenecks that derail growth
- Scaling operations without scaling your unit cost
- Building talent that matches your customer growth
- Identify tools, technologies, and automation that enhance quality and efficiency
- Operational insights that translate to product innovation
- Michael Chittaro, Fintech Practice Head, Business Process Services, Cognizant
- Praveen Raja, Head of Digital Health, Business Processes Services, Cognizant
- Art Cole, Moderator, VentureBeat