Accelerating digital businesses with strong teams and intelligent technology

December 2019

Key learnings from the digital cost convention (part 2)

I am happy to share the second part of my insights from the digital cost convention with you. This time: Focus on productivity and intelligent technology.

Please keep in mind that the article is based on my own understanding and interpretation of information and is not a word-by-word transcript of what the speakers said.

High performing teams in highly digitalized business – Best practice from ShareNow

Managing the variety of customer touchpoints, responsibilities, and tasks in a digital business can be challenging – for both individuals and teams. Our team at the Digital Sales Lab is facing this challenge as well. We aim at encouraging productivity by working towards the same goals, but ensuring individual flexibility in the way we reach them. The main question that Sharenow had to answer when merging teams from different companies into a high performing organization within a short amount of time was, how to enable a team that barely knew each other to collaborate trustfully and strive for common goals. One of the answers lay in the scalable organizational model. In digitalized businesses, minimum viable bureaucracy and a balance of autonomy and alignment are key for successful and agile collaboration. One of those organizational models is known as the “Spotify model”, a commonly adapted agile approach to ensure clear responsibilities and team structures. Sharenow adopted this approach but also realized that a great organization is not enough. Therefore, they have focused on a second aspect: the definition of common objectives and results (OKR). This model initially developed by Google focuses entirely on team goals that are aligned towards a common business goal. This way teams are working towards the same direction and support each other to succeed. The third and last pillar Sharenow introduced was a new team culture. During the initial team event after the merger, people were able to get to know each other in person, talk about their experiences and expectations, and learn more about the upcoming time together. Wearing the same T-shirts with the new company logo further reinforced the team spirit. The best organization with the best goals will not endure without the right culture.

Key learnings for you:

  • Lean and scalable organization: define an organization model that gives you flexibility -  ensure a good balance between autonomy and efficient delivery of results

  • Work productivity: don’t waste time writing long documents no one will read, keep it short and precise with a minimum viable bureaucracy

  • Same goals: Working towards common goals ensures transparency, collaboration, and mutual support (OKR)

  • Face-to-face meeting: Even in highly digitalized businesses, in-person meetings remain a powerful tool to foster team spirit – it is the little things that matter

Intelligent technology to accelerate business – Examples from Alibaba Cloud

The digital age has been bringing up a vast array of new and intelligent customer solutions. Alibaba offers a variety of services and products for C2C, B2C, and B2B to facilitate business operations and everyday life of consumers. The implementation of intelligent technology does not only increase sales but can also help to improve the productivity of employees. Cloud platforms such as Terminus from Alibaba Cloud help you to manage your business in an integrated way - from customer management to logistics. Systems like this create transparency on operations and customer behavior and enable you to swiftly manage and adjust specific touchpoints. Moreover, intelligent technology is a key enabler for superior customer experience. For instance, some Chinese stores are now piloting payments via face recognition on the ordering screen. This increases the ease in the customer’s buying process, provides insights into customer behavior to your business, and ultimately boosts sales. For companies this means: be brave, think outside the box, and implement new intelligent technology. But keep in mind that new solutions do not only need to provide value to your business, but also to your customers.  

Key learnings for you:

  • Quality and convenience: customers’ demands do not only rise in terms of products and services, but also regarding the overall buying experience

  • Think in terms of outcome: implementing new intelligent technology can be a real challenge, but in most cases it will pay off eventually

  • Question the suitability: just because an intelligent technology works great for one company or country, it might not work for you – validate both business fit and customer needs

Working efficiency with the right digital tools – Insights from Dropbox

Managing endless backlogs, keeping track of a vast array of information, working with a myriad of different tools – how can you stay productive in complex work set-ups like this? It is not only the organizational model that enables efficient collaboration in a business, but also the efficient usage of tools for collaboration. Every business uses multiple tools, each pursuing different objectives. Individually, these tools might be manageable. But altogether? We have to remember what tool to use for which task and constantly switch between them when starting a new activity. Switching, however, limits productivity. The best example as given by Dropbox is email. Emails can be a real productivity killer. On average, we check our mails every 7.5 minutes. This adds up to an unbelievable 3 days a week. Picture this: you might only be productive for 2 days in a week but you still get the full salary for 5 days. What really differentiates successful from unsuccessful teams are focus and simplicity. Companies therefore have to find ways to achieve greater focus in their work and simplify the usage of tools for searching, processing, sharing, and documenting information. There is no panacea, but there are several great tools offered by Dropbox, Microsoft, and other integrated tool providers that combine documentation, collaboration and communication and make information accessible through a single topic channel. Also our team at the Digital Sales Lab aims at improving the efficiency of our collaboration -both internally and with our clients- by challenging established ways of working and introducing new and more efficient tools and structures.

Key learnings for you:

  • Challenge the status quo: just because you feel comfortable in your way of working does not mean that you are productive – question your style of work and find new ways to thrive

  • Don’t overdo it: there are great tools on the market for every problem you might have, but keep it simple – managing and switching between tools consumes plenty of time

  • Integrated tools: boost productivity by implementing an integrated tool landscape (hub) to simplify documentation, collaboration and communication


Sources: Keynote speeches @ Digital cost convention 2019

High performing teams in a highly digitalized business - Nils Reißig & Tolga Yasmu

The future of work: Should efficiency benefit the customer or company? - Peter Jaeger

Alibaba Cloud - how to use intelligent technology to accelerate businesses - Michael Plagge

Further blog articles