Today’s business landscape has never been more challenging, or more exciting. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic the rate of change in the last two decades was increasing exponentially. We’ve experienced even more change since 2020 with new technologies and the big shift to home working. Global supply chains are under pressure. New business models are emerging. Everyone’s talking digital transformation, a term that’s becoming too much of a catch all, and in any case, it puts the focus on technology, when we believe we should be talking about business outcomes and value creation. Welcome to Mutable.

Here at Bloor we see our role as the navigator, helping CIOs and business leaders to understand, manage and prioritise their strategy, and helping vendors with the clarity of their messaging and propositions.  To be effective as an organisation today you have to think about more than just technology.

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

Leon  C. Megginson (often misattributed to Charles Darwin)

The same is true in business. That’s why, from our research on both successful and failing organisations, we’ve developed a framework for dealing with today’s disruption. As Bloor Analyst Martin Banks puts it, “all businesses are now (even if they don’t accept it yet) in a state of permanent transformation to new business models“. We call it Mutable Business™, an approach explaining “How organisations can successfully transform in a continuous way”.

Whatever industry sector you are in, we can guarantee that your business model is under threat by some smarter organisation using software, hardware, algorithms, and the internet in a different way, with a new business model, to disrupt you and steal your market. To outperform them, you need to think in terms of competing with yourself, constantly. You need to transform your organisation in to a “Permanent State of Reinvention”.

We are dealing with new customer and stakeholder behaviours, disruptive technologies, changing regulatory policies, international conflict, and the effects of globalisation on our supply chains. Yet many CIOs and senior executives that we meet feel their organisations aren’t capable of driving the transformational changes necessary. We believe you can, if you look at your organisation holistically, end to end in terms of BusinessPeople, and Technology.

In terms of Business you need to think of new business models, new ways to create value, different market places and ecosystems, as well as new information flows and changing your processes to be more responsive.  Whatever size you are, within your approach you should be planning for an enterprise scale business but avoiding enterprise level overheads.  You need to deploy your proprietary assets and look to create superior capabilities. You should be out-investing the competition, designing better products and services, and looking at new ways to serve your customers. And to do that you’ll need to attract the best talent.

Business transformation only succeeds with the right leadership and by empowering  your People and getting them on board with the big idea. You need to think in terms of employee engagement, collaboration and fostering an environment for creativity and innovation with the freedom to experiment.  That Mutable leadership style and workplace practice contributes to the Future of Work topic that has come to the fore since the pandemic forced the fastest and most significant change to the office and work environment that any of us have seen in our lifetimes. The two concepts interlock, interact and support each other.  The smart firms have shifted focus from monitoring time spent in the office to focussing on outcomes, and empowering their people to choose how they work most effectively. Mutable Business™ leaders have an open mindset, an unbounded culture, and they promote strong team cohesion, a strong sense of purpose, and passion for the work the company does.

In all of this business change, Technology is the driver. The shift to cloud, social, mobile and other emerging technologies is at the heart of supporting your change. We have been evolving our research focus for the past ten years and believe we are in a new data driven era of Software Defined Business, and Big Software which allows organisations to effectively virtualise their entire architecture, even create a Digital  Twin of the business. With data as the cornerstone of your solution, you will consider all of the options to deploy the right infrastructure for each of the many insights you are looking for. You will look at app modernisation and Software as a Service, with a focus on user experience for your people, your customers, and your partners. You’ll need to deal with the opportunities of IoT and the explosion of connected devices and the data they collect, looking to apply AI and automation across the whole technology map to both add value and remove costs. Our approach allows organisations to abstract, personalise and optimise all their business processes for true business agility.

But don’t forget all of these changes need to work through your Stakeholder Engagement, by which we mean your customers, suppliers, business partners, employees, shareholders, investors, advisors, media organisations, regulators and any other communities that connect with the business. All aspects of the approach need to be governed by Trust, and the successful organisations deploy a Design Thinking mentality in everything that they do. Across all of this, the smart organisations are thinking Agile, not just in their approach to development, but in their management style and their business practice and change management. Your transformation should not be seen as a single, long project, but as continuous improvement programme, with what we call short throws – an iterative approach with 2-4 week sprints, and manageable milestones.

Our research confirmed by Leading Digital by George Westerman, Didier Bonnet & Andrew McAfee shows that the digitally savvy organisations that get this right generate more revenue, more profits and are worth more on the stock market. If you apply the Mutable Business™ framework properly you can work with the speed of a start up at the scale of an enterprise.


Diagram: The Mutable Enterprise
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