10 Digital Disruption Questions for Executives

  1. How are you deploying digital technology to proactively disrupt your industry?
  2. How are you keeping track of the “ratchet effect” customers have when interacting with businesses, both online and offline? Do you know not only what’s best-in-class, but also what is best-in-any-class?
  3. How differently do your customers experience your company online versus offline?
  4. How do you assess your company’s competitive essence and how it may be shifting?
  5. How often and how closely do you assess the potential value of your data aggregates to companies outside your industry?
  6. How well do you understand governments’ policy intentions— including latent policy intent that may emerge when new technology permits new interventions?
  7. How well can you manage relationships with multiple organizations from different parts of the economy simultaneously, even if they sit outside your immediate value chain?
  8. How will your decision-making processes cope with the volume of customer data digital technology can provide? As part of this, how comfortable are your managers with granting greater levels of autonomy to frontline employees?
  9. How do you assess competitive threats from beyond your own industry?
  10. How do you maintain a strong corporate culture when growing into entirely new markets?

Source: Remaking Customer Markets: Unlocking Growth with Digital by Tim Cooper, Matthew Robinson | Accenture

HR Analytics Questions

In thinking about using analytics to power HR decision making, HR executives should ask:

  • Are we using analytics effectively to monitor HR performance and drive improvements?
  • Can we use employee segmentation to deliver increasingly tailored HR services to groups and individuals in the workforce?
  • Are we able to “look ahead” to identify employees who are at risk of leaving, or to predict team and individual performance?
  • Are we using workforce data to provide a clear picture of HR performance to senior management?
  • How can analytics help us be more proactive in planning programs and identifying potential improvements in HR?
  • Do we have an opportunity to expand the universe of data being used in analytics to answer key workforce questions with increased speed and accuracy?
  • Can we use real-time transactional data to create consistent global reports?

Source: The Future of HR—Five Technology Imperatives | Accenture, Oracle

HR Integrated Talent Management Questions

In thinking about integrated talent management, HR executives should ask:

  • Does our technology work across functions, or does it enforce traditional silos?
  • Can we easily inventory skills across the global organization and match that against future business needs?
  • How does development, compensation and performance management work together to engage and retain our high performers?
  • Do our systems support an individualized, “workforce of one” approach?
  • Are we able to clearly align learning, development, employee goals, compensation and performance management with overall corporate goals and strategy?
  • Do we spend too much time and money maintaining standalone HR systems?

Source: The Future of HR—Five Technology Imperatives | Accenture, Oracle

8 Essential Questions for Every Corporate Innovator

Identifying New Growth Opportunities

  1. What problem is the customer struggling to solve?
  2. Which customers can’t participate in a market because they lack skills, wealth, or convenient access to existing solutions?

Identifying the Threat of Disruption

  1. Where are we overshooting the market by providing features that users don’t care about and don’t want to pay for?
  2. If you were going to disrupt your company, how would you do it?

Designing Compelling Offerings

  1. Who has already solved the problem you are trying to address?
  2. What can you do that few other companies in the world can do?

Commercializing Your Idea

  1. What assumption are you making that, if false, would blow your strategy up?
  2. How can you learn more affordably and efficiently?

Source: Eight Essential Questions for Every Corporate Innovator by Scott Anthony | HBR Blog Network

3 Buying vs. Building Questions

Three essential questions can help companies determine when buying rather than building makes sense for them:

  1. Does someone else have a capability that would enhance your business? There are many different kinds of capabilities—technologies, sales channels, operations in particular geographic areas and so forth. If no one else has the capabilities you need to strengthen or adapt your business, you obviously have to grow them yourself. If the capabilities are available, they may be candidates for acquisition.
  2. Is the risk-adjusted rate of return higher if you buy the capability than if you build it internally? Every acquisition carries risks, but every investment in organic growth also carries risks. The challenge for companies’ financial teams is to create apples-to-apples comparisons for expected returns on investments in organic vs. inorganic growth, factoring in the risks on both sides as accurately as possible.
  3. Do you have a “parenting advantage” in managing the capability? Capabilities don’t exist in a vacuum; they exist in organizations. If your organization is better than anybody else at managing a particular capability—perhaps because of your experience with similar ones—you have a built-in advantage over other potential acquirers.

Source: The Renaissance in Mergers and Acquisitions: What to Do with All That Cash? by David Harding, Karen Harris, Richard Jackson and Satish Shankar | Bain & Company

10 Questions that Take the Pulse of a Company’s Inventory Health

  1. Are you able to break down your operating inventory into the three major categories when reporting levels—safety, replenishment and excess or obsolete stock?
  2. Is your company using the most effective method to calculate your safety stock levels?
  3. Do you recalculate safety stock levels on a regular basis to ensure they are up to date?
  4. Who decides key inventory-related policy such as striking the right balance between customer service and cost-effective product inventory levels?
  5. Who determines the optimal frequency for producing or ordering products?
  6. How do you determine the frequency for ordering and inventory production if it’s not set solely by factories or the supply organization?
  7. Is the optimal order or production frequency calculated on a regular basis as part of a continuous improvement process?
  8. Do you have regular visibility into excess and obsolete stock, and is it linked to targeted action plans to sell off or reduce this inventory?
  9. Do you perform root-cause analyses on excess and obsolete stock and know how they are linked to action plans that curb more excesses from being created?
  10. Do you apply the above practices to all parts of your inventory (finished goods, raw material, works in process and spare parts) and in all organizational entities?

Source: Ten ways to improve inventory management by Ronald Fink, Pratap Mukharji, Sam Israelit, Francois Faelli, Thierry Catfolis, Raymond Tsang | Bain & Company, WSJ.com

Big Data Collection and Use Questions

Real opportunity exists to create differentiation and set new “community standards in honoring the spirit of personal privacy and property rights while enhancing and protecting the value of a brand and enterprise. Some policy questions to be considered:

Transparency

  • Do customers understand how our company uses the data gathered from their interactions and transactions?
  • If customers knew the full extent of its use, would they agree to it?
  • Does our enterprise have the capability to remove customer data if requested or required?

Enterprise Risk

  • Has our enterprise assessed the potential consequences of pending data usage regulations, legislation and lawsuits? Are the potential franchise or reputation risks mitigated? Does the board of directors agree with our assessment?
  • Are controls in place that increase the likelihood that data collection platforms are used appropriately? Are metrics gathered and shared with our executives and board of directors that confirm that we are not impairing our brand or franchise? Is our enterprise empowered to enforce appropriate usage?
  • Does our organization use external data, and do we have the actual usage rights? Are we infringing on personal property rights in any direct or indirect way?
  • Do we monitor our site to prevent outside companies from tracking customers without our knowledge?
  • What exposure do we have to inaccurate data regarding individual subscribers?

Operations and Compliance

  • If customers chose to opt out, or if we are required to offer this option, how will it impact our franchise? Do we have the capability to remove their information from our databases?
  • If we were forced to compensate customers for the data we gather or have gathered from them, how would this impact our business model?
  • Does our compliance function appropriately address data rights, or is it narrowly focused on data security and data privacy, such as personally identifiable information (PII)? When can data be subpoenaed if stored in country X while reflecting actions in country Y?
  • Does our organization monitor for direct and indirect misuse of our data and data platform?
  • For each country the company operates in, do I understand and follow the societal norms of property and privacy rights? Do we understand and are we responsible for where data end up being used?

Source: Gold Rush by Thomas Galizia, Trevor Gee, Ken Landis | Deloitte Review

9 Questions Boards Should Ask about Technology

  1. How will IT change the basis of competition in our industry?
    • Who are our emerging competitors?
    • How is technology helping us win against traditional and new competitors?
    • How can we use technology to enter new markets?
  2. What will it take to exceed our customers’ expectations in a digital world?
    • How does our customer experience compare with that of leaders in other sectors?
    • What will our customers expect in the future, and what will it take to delight them?
    • Do we have clear plans for how to meet or exceed their expectations?
  3. Do our business plans reflect the full potential of technology to improve our performance?
    • Has the P&L opportunity and threat from IT been quantified by business unit and by market?
    • Will our current plans fully capture the opportunity and neutralize the threat?
    • What is the time horizon of these plans, and have they been factored into future financial projections for both business and IT?
  4. Is our portfolio of technology investments aligned with opportunities and threats?
    • How well is our IT-investment portfolio aligned with business value with regard to opportunities and threats?
    • How well does the portfolio balance short-term and long-term needs?
    • Do we have effective value-assurance processes in place to mitigate execution risk?
  5. How will IT improve our operational and strategic agility?
    • How does our business and IT agility measure up with that of our competitors?
    • How do our IT plans increase our business and IT agility?
    • Are our sourcing relationships increasing or reducing our agility?
  6. Do we have the capabilities required to deliver value from IT?
    • Do we have the capabilities needed to drive full value from our existing IT systems?
    • What are the weakest links in our capabilities?
    • Do we have enough IT-literate executives?
    • What is our plan for upgrading capabilities?
  7. Who is accountable for IT and how do we hold them to account?
    • What is our operating model for IT, and is it aligned with our business priorities?
    • Who is accountable for delivering business value from IT—both overall and by activity?
    • Are those accountable being measured using business-friendly scorecards that create the right incentives?
  8. Are we comfortable with our level of IT risk?
    • Do we have a comprehensive understanding of the IT risks we face?
    • How is our level of IT risk measured, and is it aligned with the company’s overall risk appetite?
    • How are we reducing our IT risk on an ongoing basis?
    • Who is responsible for overseeing the level of IT risk?
  9. Are we making the most of our technology story?
    • What are the key messages we should communicate?
    • How, when, and to whom should they be communicated?

Source: The Do-or-Die Questions Boards Should Ask About Technology by Paul Willmott | The McKinsey Quarterly

Big Data Public Policy Questions

The potentially all-knowing capabilities of companies and organizations that collect data raise questions.

  • What are an individual’s privacy rights given the particular and dynamic dimensions of the digital world: the amount of data, the real time processing of and actions taken based on the data?
  • Should there be limits as to how data can be collected or used?
  • Who owns the data?
  • Who should benefit from the value it generates?
  • How can personal information be reclaimed by the individual once it’s dispersed?

Source: Gold Rush by Thomas Galizia, Trevor Gee, Ken Landis | Deloitte Review

Multi-Channel Marketing Questions

In order to serve this channel-savvy, highly mobile, multidevice-happy consumer, chief marketing officers (CMOs) have their work cut out for them. These CMOs need to have an accurate understanding of consumers—their intentions, impressions of products and services and their behavior; to pinpoint exactly which marketing channels—online or offline—are yielding maximum MROI.

For example, knowing the impact of paid search engine marketing (SEM), online display media, natural search marketing based on search engine optimization (SEO) or affiliate partners, on both online and offline customer behavior. Or understanding how email, mobile-optimized websites, online video ads, social media, mobile display ads and the like, work together with offline media. For that, CMOs must have accurate answers to questions such as

  • How did a particular sale happen?
  • Who should get the credit for it?
  • How much credit should be attributed to each consumer interaction across channels, and on what basis?
  • How should the investment be apportioned across channels?

Source: Multichannel Attribution: Measuring Marketing ROI in the Digital Era | Accenture