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While online sales, social networking, and
mobile applications have received most of
the buzz when it comes to digital, our recent
research finds that the greatest bottom-line
impact may come where most companies
aren’t looking—from cost savings and changes
beyond the interface with customers. Our
yearlong study shows that, across the indus-
tries we examined, the average bottom-line
impact that can be realized from digital
sales over the next five years is 20 percent:
a significant opportunity to be sure, but
much less than the bottom-line impact from
cost reductions, which average 36 percent.
(See sidebar, “Calculating the economic
impact of digital transformation.”)
A too-narrow focus on distribution channels
means organizations are getting only a small
share of the full value that digital transfor­
mation can provide. That narrow focus may
also be leaving organizations vulnerable to
new entrants and agile incumbents that can
translate operational improvements across
the full value chain, combined with innovative
operating models, into better, cheaper, more
customized products, faster service, and an
improved customer experience. For organi­
zations that can step back and apply their
digital investments in such a holistic way,
the prize is significant.
Of course, not all industries face the same
opportunities or the same threats. Hotels and
airlines, for instance, are greatly exposed to the
disruptive potential of digital, with our research
showing that over the next five years their share
of sales via digital channels will rise to 50 per­-
cent in mature markets. This will clearly dis­-
ad­vantage digital laggards. Large grocery chains,
on the other hand, could be less affected. Their
share of sales via digital channels is expected
to rise to just 10 percent. With an expense
base dominated by the cost of goods sold,
the potential for digital to radically transform
their economics is somewhat constrained.
Finding your digital sweet spot
The potential impact of digital technology varies widely by industry, but most enterprise
leaders share an important challenge: how to get beyond the small share of the prize
they are capturing today by looking for impact across the whole value chain.
LloydMiller
’Tunde Olanrewaju
and Paul Willmott
N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 3
2
To capture the value available, organizations
will need to assess the value at stake, invest
proportionally to that value, and align their
business and operating models accordingly.
How digital transformation
drives business value
Technology drives value in businesses in four
ways: enhanced connectivity, automation
of manual tasks, improved decision making,
and product or service innovation (exhibit).
Tools such as big-data analytics, apps, work-
flow systems, and cloud platforms—all of
which enable this value—are too often applied
selectively by businesses in narrow pockets
of their organization, particularly in sales
and marketing.
This creates missed opportunities to gain
maximum advantage from digital investments.
Big-data insights, for example, can be used
to enhance customer targeting and adjust
pricing in real time, but they can also be used
for better forecasting of operational-capacity
needs to boost asset and resource utilization.
Likewise, app technology that is typically
focused on improving customer interactions
can also be applied to a broad range of
internal interactions, such as HR and procure-
ment requests. Smarter and more complete
application of digital investments not only
delivers concrete improvements within a given
function but can also unlock “trapped” value
by improving information flows and reducing
waste across the organization. For example,
one bank found that upgrading the digital
channel drove a significant improvement
in customer-data richness and quality, which
increased marketing effectiveness and drove
better lending decisions by reducing risk and
enabling the automation of previously
labor-intensive fulfillment processes. When
used well, digital expands the improvements
delivered in one part of an organization
across the whole value chain.
Digital’s bottom-line value
varies by industry
Digital will be highly disruptive to some
industries, affecting not only revenue and
cost structures but also shaking up the core
business and operating models. The music-
retailing industry has already been down
this path. Others are nosing into the eye
of the storm. Some sectors may see less
dramatic but still important shifts. We see
three clusters of industries that will face
varying levels of change.
Long-term multichannel. For these indus-
tries, there is unlikely to be a wholesale
shift to a fully digital model in the medium
term. Examples include grocery retailing
and apparel. Despite innovations, such as
new digitally enabled store formats, in-store
digital kiosks, and highly functional e-com-
merce offerings, digital-sales volumes will
likely remain relatively low. We project that
10 percent of grocery and 24 percent of
apparel sales are likely to be online by 2018.
(The average for sectors in this cluster is
20 percent.) One reason for their modest
online-sales growth is that grocery retail
and apparel both have persistent consumer
behaviors and habits. In many categories,
shopping is a highly social experience, and
social-media networking to share purchases
is not a sufficient substitute for in-person
interaction. Digital capabilities in the near
term can only go so far in simulating the
3
experience of trying on clothes or choosing
fruit and vegetables. In addition, these sectors
have cost structures that are less amenable to
digitally driven transformation. For example,
most of the costs of a large grocery retailer
are the goods it sells. However, this is only
half the story; we see a large opportunity
for savvy competitors to drive digitally influ-
enced sales within their physical footprint by
lever­ag­ing highly targeted promotions, mobile
apps with prebuilt shopping lists, and other
conveniences that combine seamlessly with
their traditional offerings to transform the
customer experience. Given the typically tight
margins in these industries, digital leaders can
significantly boost profitability and command
a clear performance advantage.
Eye of the digital storm. These industries
are likely to see a more transformative effect
from digital. Retail banking, property-and-
casualty insurance, and mobile telecommu­
nications offer virtual rather than physical
products and, as such, have a cost base largely
Enhanced
corporate
control
McKinsey On Business Technology 2013 — Digital Value Insights
Exhibit 1 of 1
Digital can reshape every aspect of the modern enterprise.
Source: Expert interviews; McKinsey analysis
Customer
experience
Product
and service
innovation
Distribution
and marketing
and sales
Digital
fulfillment
Risk
optimization
Decision making
based on big data
and advanced
analytics
Automation
of manual activity,
replacing labor
with technology
Connectivity
with customers,
colleagues,
and suppliers
Innovation
of products,
business models,
and operating
models
• Seamless multichannel experience
• Whenever, wherever service propositions
• New digital
products
and services
• Cocreation of
new products
• Digital
marketing with
higher return
on investment
• Digital
augmentation
of traditional
channels
• Full straight-through processing
and automatic provisioning
• Virtual servicing and administration
• Improved
targeting with
customer
insights
• Embedded/
automated
controls and
risk profiling
• Improved, real-time
management
information
systems and
decision
making
• Seamless
integration
into third
parties
Exhibit
4
focused on processing and servicing, making
them highly susceptible to digital transfor­
mation. We project digital-channel use in
these sectors to average 35 percent and total
cost-base potential reductions to average
20 percent. Companies in these sectors have
their work cut out for them as they absorb the
business-model changes taking place while
fending off new digital entrants. The onus
will be on the companies to act decisively
and quickly, streamlining and repurposing
their physical distribution and redirecting
the freed-up capital to build out their digital-
channel capabilities. There will also need
to be a concerted focus on automating core
activities to boost self-service and “straight
Calculating the economic impact of digital transformation
Digital transformation can make a big differ-
ence. To calculate just how big, we examined
ten industries: retail banking, mobile telecom-
munications, airlines, consumer-electronics
retailing, apparel, property-and-casualty
insurance, hotels, supermarkets, pay-TV
broadcasting, and newspaper publishing.
To get at costs, we recut the expense catego-
ries of these sectors on an apples-to-apples
basis and computed the difference that fuller
use of digital channels, greater automation,
better analytics, and innovative virtual
models—such as remote freelance call-center
workers—might yield, using metrics such as
reduced head count and improved productiv-
ity. On automation, for instance, we assessed
the typical distribution of human resources
across processes in a service-operations
function and identified which labor-intensive
activities could be done by technology. For
sales, we compared the sales outperformance
of selected digital leaders in each sector
against the industry average, forecasting the
likely digital advantage such companies could
build up over the next five years. Combining
this analysis with online-penetration growth
rates in each industry and average margins,
we were able to estimate bottom-line impact.
On average across the sectors we examined,
we found that digital transformation can
boost the bottom line by more than 50
percent over the next five years for com­
panies that pull all levers. This ranged from
20 percent in pay-TV broadcasting to more
than 200 per­cent in music retailing, with
most sectors clustered in the 30 to 60
percent range. These headline figures are
underpinned by a few critical insights:
most sectors are expected to double their
share of sales coming from digital channels
over the next five years. Additionally, digi-
tal leaders are on average growing their
digital sales at 2.5 times that of their sector
peers, with as high as a 9 times multiple seen
in newspapers, for instance. Furthermore,
we found that companies can, on average,
cut the total cost base by 9 percent, resulting
in average bottom-line impact of 36 percent,
through shifting customer interactions to
digital channels and automating paper-heavy
processes. This ranged from 3 percent of
total costs in grocery retailing to 20 percent
in retail banking—substantial impact, which
passes directly to the bottom line and
reshapes the economics of competition
across these sectors.
5
different expense structures have emerged.
For example, iTunes has no physical distribu-
tion, and even asset-heavy industries such as
airlines are using automation to cut customer-
interaction costs (for example, with e-check-in
and automated departure gates). These indus-
­tries will need to pursue automation in new
areas; for instance, companies can leverage big-
data analytics to boost supply-chain effi­ciency
and improve asset utilization (through smarter
maintenance scheduling, for example).
Companies in this cluster that succeed will be
those that recognize the long-term trajectory
of their current model and make bold bets
to reshape themselves accordingly. Given
the typically thin margins in these industries,
even reducing costs by a few percent will
translate into significant bottom-line impact.
Investments should be
proportional to the value
at stake
The clear message from our research is that
companies need to fully embrace digital but
should do so in line with their own unique
oppor­tunity. Why build a gleaming digital
empire if more targeted improvements will
suffice? Conversely, why dabble with small-
ticket experiments when the value at stake
can radically transform your bottom line? To
assess and act on the digital-transformation
opportunity, we recommend four steps.
1. Estimate the value at stake. Companies
need to get a clear handle on the digital-sales
and cost-reduction opportunities available to
them. Digital—and digitally influenced—sales
potential should be assessed at the product
level and checked against observed internal
trends, as well as competitor performance.
through” transaction processing. Such change
may come with a stiff price tag, but these
industries may have little choice but to step
up in a sustained way since the trajectory
suggests they are headed toward greater
disruption from digital.
New digital normal. These are the industries
that are visibly going through or have com-
pleted several rounds of digital disruption.
Sectors like music retailing, consumer-elec-
tronics retailing, airlines, and hotels have seen
their business and operating models perma-
nently changed. They have experienced the
“double whammy” of digital enabling very
different sales trajectories and altering cost
structures. For instance, digital sales for music
retailing and consumer-electronics retailing
is expected to exceed two-thirds of these two
industries’ total sales in five years’ time. This
will continue to radically reshape the distri­
bution model for companies in this cluster.
Such companies can also expect further price
transparency and margin compression but
will have more opportunities for real-time
price changes and targeting of offers based on
an increased ability to truly understand their
customers. On the cost side, fundamentally
6
on and tweaking them is futile. Companies
need to act purposefully and divest where it
makes sense, identifying what holdings are
likely to be cannibalized or likely to under­
perform in the new environment and slough-
ing them off. Conversely, some areas will
clearly need new capabilities and assets, which
companies often do not have the luxury to
build up organically over time. One retailer
used targeted acquisitions to rapidly build
out its e-commerce capabilities, allowing it
to focus on defining strategy and aspirations
rather than tinkering with the “plumbing.”
. . .	
Capturing the value of digital transformation
will be important in most industries—and
critical for survival in some. Business leaders
must assess their own company’s value at stake,
invest proportionally to address key opportu­
nities and risks, and keep in mind that the
greatest digital value may reside beyond their
customer-facing functions. •
On the cost side, administrative and oper­
ational processes should be assessed for
automation potential, and distribution should
be rightsized to reflect digital-sales growth.
The aggregate impact should be computed
and turned into a granular set of digital targets
to monitor progress and drive value capture.
2. Prioritize. Most organizations don’t have
the ability, resources, or risk tolerance
to execute on more than two or three big
opportunities at any one time. Be selective.
Figure out what areas are likely to deliver the
greatest return on investment and the best
customer outcomes and start there. While
digital requires some experimentation, too
many ad hoc demos and showcases lead to
scattershot investments that fail to deliver
sustained value. One retailer, for instance,
ended up with 25 subscale digital offerings
by not culling in the right places.
3. Take an end-to-end view. One financial-
services firm built a world-class digital chan-
nel but failed to update the paper-based
processes that supported it—processes that
were prone to error. That false veneer of
speed and efficiency eroded trust and turned
off customers. The moral? Although it may
seem counterintuitive, overinvestment in a
slick front end that is not matched with the
corresponding high-quality fulfillment that
customers now expect may actually lead to
increased customer frustration.
4. Align the business portfolio accordingly.
In the long run, some lines of business will
simply be destroyed by digital. Hanging
’Tunde Olanrewaju is a principal in McKinsey’s London office, where Paul Willmott is a director.
Copyright © 2013 McKinsey & Company. All rights reserved.

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Finding_your_digital_sweet_spot

  • 1. While online sales, social networking, and mobile applications have received most of the buzz when it comes to digital, our recent research finds that the greatest bottom-line impact may come where most companies aren’t looking—from cost savings and changes beyond the interface with customers. Our yearlong study shows that, across the indus- tries we examined, the average bottom-line impact that can be realized from digital sales over the next five years is 20 percent: a significant opportunity to be sure, but much less than the bottom-line impact from cost reductions, which average 36 percent. (See sidebar, “Calculating the economic impact of digital transformation.”) A too-narrow focus on distribution channels means organizations are getting only a small share of the full value that digital transfor­ mation can provide. That narrow focus may also be leaving organizations vulnerable to new entrants and agile incumbents that can translate operational improvements across the full value chain, combined with innovative operating models, into better, cheaper, more customized products, faster service, and an improved customer experience. For organi­ zations that can step back and apply their digital investments in such a holistic way, the prize is significant. Of course, not all industries face the same opportunities or the same threats. Hotels and airlines, for instance, are greatly exposed to the disruptive potential of digital, with our research showing that over the next five years their share of sales via digital channels will rise to 50 per­- cent in mature markets. This will clearly dis­- ad­vantage digital laggards. Large grocery chains, on the other hand, could be less affected. Their share of sales via digital channels is expected to rise to just 10 percent. With an expense base dominated by the cost of goods sold, the potential for digital to radically transform their economics is somewhat constrained. Finding your digital sweet spot The potential impact of digital technology varies widely by industry, but most enterprise leaders share an important challenge: how to get beyond the small share of the prize they are capturing today by looking for impact across the whole value chain. LloydMiller ’Tunde Olanrewaju and Paul Willmott N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 3
  • 2. 2 To capture the value available, organizations will need to assess the value at stake, invest proportionally to that value, and align their business and operating models accordingly. How digital transformation drives business value Technology drives value in businesses in four ways: enhanced connectivity, automation of manual tasks, improved decision making, and product or service innovation (exhibit). Tools such as big-data analytics, apps, work- flow systems, and cloud platforms—all of which enable this value—are too often applied selectively by businesses in narrow pockets of their organization, particularly in sales and marketing. This creates missed opportunities to gain maximum advantage from digital investments. Big-data insights, for example, can be used to enhance customer targeting and adjust pricing in real time, but they can also be used for better forecasting of operational-capacity needs to boost asset and resource utilization. Likewise, app technology that is typically focused on improving customer interactions can also be applied to a broad range of internal interactions, such as HR and procure- ment requests. Smarter and more complete application of digital investments not only delivers concrete improvements within a given function but can also unlock “trapped” value by improving information flows and reducing waste across the organization. For example, one bank found that upgrading the digital channel drove a significant improvement in customer-data richness and quality, which increased marketing effectiveness and drove better lending decisions by reducing risk and enabling the automation of previously labor-intensive fulfillment processes. When used well, digital expands the improvements delivered in one part of an organization across the whole value chain. Digital’s bottom-line value varies by industry Digital will be highly disruptive to some industries, affecting not only revenue and cost structures but also shaking up the core business and operating models. The music- retailing industry has already been down this path. Others are nosing into the eye of the storm. Some sectors may see less dramatic but still important shifts. We see three clusters of industries that will face varying levels of change. Long-term multichannel. For these indus- tries, there is unlikely to be a wholesale shift to a fully digital model in the medium term. Examples include grocery retailing and apparel. Despite innovations, such as new digitally enabled store formats, in-store digital kiosks, and highly functional e-com- merce offerings, digital-sales volumes will likely remain relatively low. We project that 10 percent of grocery and 24 percent of apparel sales are likely to be online by 2018. (The average for sectors in this cluster is 20 percent.) One reason for their modest online-sales growth is that grocery retail and apparel both have persistent consumer behaviors and habits. In many categories, shopping is a highly social experience, and social-media networking to share purchases is not a sufficient substitute for in-person interaction. Digital capabilities in the near term can only go so far in simulating the
  • 3. 3 experience of trying on clothes or choosing fruit and vegetables. In addition, these sectors have cost structures that are less amenable to digitally driven transformation. For example, most of the costs of a large grocery retailer are the goods it sells. However, this is only half the story; we see a large opportunity for savvy competitors to drive digitally influ- enced sales within their physical footprint by lever­ag­ing highly targeted promotions, mobile apps with prebuilt shopping lists, and other conveniences that combine seamlessly with their traditional offerings to transform the customer experience. Given the typically tight margins in these industries, digital leaders can significantly boost profitability and command a clear performance advantage. Eye of the digital storm. These industries are likely to see a more transformative effect from digital. Retail banking, property-and- casualty insurance, and mobile telecommu­ nications offer virtual rather than physical products and, as such, have a cost base largely Enhanced corporate control McKinsey On Business Technology 2013 — Digital Value Insights Exhibit 1 of 1 Digital can reshape every aspect of the modern enterprise. Source: Expert interviews; McKinsey analysis Customer experience Product and service innovation Distribution and marketing and sales Digital fulfillment Risk optimization Decision making based on big data and advanced analytics Automation of manual activity, replacing labor with technology Connectivity with customers, colleagues, and suppliers Innovation of products, business models, and operating models • Seamless multichannel experience • Whenever, wherever service propositions • New digital products and services • Cocreation of new products • Digital marketing with higher return on investment • Digital augmentation of traditional channels • Full straight-through processing and automatic provisioning • Virtual servicing and administration • Improved targeting with customer insights • Embedded/ automated controls and risk profiling • Improved, real-time management information systems and decision making • Seamless integration into third parties Exhibit
  • 4. 4 focused on processing and servicing, making them highly susceptible to digital transfor­ mation. We project digital-channel use in these sectors to average 35 percent and total cost-base potential reductions to average 20 percent. Companies in these sectors have their work cut out for them as they absorb the business-model changes taking place while fending off new digital entrants. The onus will be on the companies to act decisively and quickly, streamlining and repurposing their physical distribution and redirecting the freed-up capital to build out their digital- channel capabilities. There will also need to be a concerted focus on automating core activities to boost self-service and “straight Calculating the economic impact of digital transformation Digital transformation can make a big differ- ence. To calculate just how big, we examined ten industries: retail banking, mobile telecom- munications, airlines, consumer-electronics retailing, apparel, property-and-casualty insurance, hotels, supermarkets, pay-TV broadcasting, and newspaper publishing. To get at costs, we recut the expense catego- ries of these sectors on an apples-to-apples basis and computed the difference that fuller use of digital channels, greater automation, better analytics, and innovative virtual models—such as remote freelance call-center workers—might yield, using metrics such as reduced head count and improved productiv- ity. On automation, for instance, we assessed the typical distribution of human resources across processes in a service-operations function and identified which labor-intensive activities could be done by technology. For sales, we compared the sales outperformance of selected digital leaders in each sector against the industry average, forecasting the likely digital advantage such companies could build up over the next five years. Combining this analysis with online-penetration growth rates in each industry and average margins, we were able to estimate bottom-line impact. On average across the sectors we examined, we found that digital transformation can boost the bottom line by more than 50 percent over the next five years for com­ panies that pull all levers. This ranged from 20 percent in pay-TV broadcasting to more than 200 per­cent in music retailing, with most sectors clustered in the 30 to 60 percent range. These headline figures are underpinned by a few critical insights: most sectors are expected to double their share of sales coming from digital channels over the next five years. Additionally, digi- tal leaders are on average growing their digital sales at 2.5 times that of their sector peers, with as high as a 9 times multiple seen in newspapers, for instance. Furthermore, we found that companies can, on average, cut the total cost base by 9 percent, resulting in average bottom-line impact of 36 percent, through shifting customer interactions to digital channels and automating paper-heavy processes. This ranged from 3 percent of total costs in grocery retailing to 20 percent in retail banking—substantial impact, which passes directly to the bottom line and reshapes the economics of competition across these sectors.
  • 5. 5 different expense structures have emerged. For example, iTunes has no physical distribu- tion, and even asset-heavy industries such as airlines are using automation to cut customer- interaction costs (for example, with e-check-in and automated departure gates). These indus- ­tries will need to pursue automation in new areas; for instance, companies can leverage big- data analytics to boost supply-chain effi­ciency and improve asset utilization (through smarter maintenance scheduling, for example). Companies in this cluster that succeed will be those that recognize the long-term trajectory of their current model and make bold bets to reshape themselves accordingly. Given the typically thin margins in these industries, even reducing costs by a few percent will translate into significant bottom-line impact. Investments should be proportional to the value at stake The clear message from our research is that companies need to fully embrace digital but should do so in line with their own unique oppor­tunity. Why build a gleaming digital empire if more targeted improvements will suffice? Conversely, why dabble with small- ticket experiments when the value at stake can radically transform your bottom line? To assess and act on the digital-transformation opportunity, we recommend four steps. 1. Estimate the value at stake. Companies need to get a clear handle on the digital-sales and cost-reduction opportunities available to them. Digital—and digitally influenced—sales potential should be assessed at the product level and checked against observed internal trends, as well as competitor performance. through” transaction processing. Such change may come with a stiff price tag, but these industries may have little choice but to step up in a sustained way since the trajectory suggests they are headed toward greater disruption from digital. New digital normal. These are the industries that are visibly going through or have com- pleted several rounds of digital disruption. Sectors like music retailing, consumer-elec- tronics retailing, airlines, and hotels have seen their business and operating models perma- nently changed. They have experienced the “double whammy” of digital enabling very different sales trajectories and altering cost structures. For instance, digital sales for music retailing and consumer-electronics retailing is expected to exceed two-thirds of these two industries’ total sales in five years’ time. This will continue to radically reshape the distri­ bution model for companies in this cluster. Such companies can also expect further price transparency and margin compression but will have more opportunities for real-time price changes and targeting of offers based on an increased ability to truly understand their customers. On the cost side, fundamentally
  • 6. 6 on and tweaking them is futile. Companies need to act purposefully and divest where it makes sense, identifying what holdings are likely to be cannibalized or likely to under­ perform in the new environment and slough- ing them off. Conversely, some areas will clearly need new capabilities and assets, which companies often do not have the luxury to build up organically over time. One retailer used targeted acquisitions to rapidly build out its e-commerce capabilities, allowing it to focus on defining strategy and aspirations rather than tinkering with the “plumbing.” . . . Capturing the value of digital transformation will be important in most industries—and critical for survival in some. Business leaders must assess their own company’s value at stake, invest proportionally to address key opportu­ nities and risks, and keep in mind that the greatest digital value may reside beyond their customer-facing functions. • On the cost side, administrative and oper­ ational processes should be assessed for automation potential, and distribution should be rightsized to reflect digital-sales growth. The aggregate impact should be computed and turned into a granular set of digital targets to monitor progress and drive value capture. 2. Prioritize. Most organizations don’t have the ability, resources, or risk tolerance to execute on more than two or three big opportunities at any one time. Be selective. Figure out what areas are likely to deliver the greatest return on investment and the best customer outcomes and start there. While digital requires some experimentation, too many ad hoc demos and showcases lead to scattershot investments that fail to deliver sustained value. One retailer, for instance, ended up with 25 subscale digital offerings by not culling in the right places. 3. Take an end-to-end view. One financial- services firm built a world-class digital chan- nel but failed to update the paper-based processes that supported it—processes that were prone to error. That false veneer of speed and efficiency eroded trust and turned off customers. The moral? Although it may seem counterintuitive, overinvestment in a slick front end that is not matched with the corresponding high-quality fulfillment that customers now expect may actually lead to increased customer frustration. 4. Align the business portfolio accordingly. In the long run, some lines of business will simply be destroyed by digital. Hanging ’Tunde Olanrewaju is a principal in McKinsey’s London office, where Paul Willmott is a director. Copyright © 2013 McKinsey & Company. All rights reserved.