Finding the real benefits of digital transformation: The bionic company – Boston Consulting Group

Boston Consulting Group (BCG) describes the “bionic company.” These are companies which “combine the strengths of humans and technologies to create superhuman,” or what the authors describe as “bionic capabilities.” To do this they leverage new technologies such as cloud, AI and others they create a new technology platform. They further meld these with the “flexibility, adaptability and comprehensive experience of humans,” to create a totally new entity.

Bionic companies, according to BCG, “outperform others in terms of cash flow and enterprise value.” Further, BCG maintains that companies not only had these characteristics before the onset of COVID-19, they continue to show this outperformance in areas where recovery is underway.

The concept reinforces the key learnings and areas that we must pursue as we lead “digital transformation”. It confirms the areas to focus on and investigate. It acknowledges that ‘digital native’ companies have an advantage, but allows that traditional companies can transform and compete in the new digital/industrial economy.

While it doesn’t give concrete numbers to prove its assertions, BCG is a reputable organization and the idea that companies that follow the principles they outline will outperform others who do not should be given some serious consideration.

  • Most bionic companies are digital natives but traditional companies can also “reposition their competitive capabilities,” by focusing on their digital transformation.
  • Technological developments are leveraged, i.e. artificial intelligence, digital talent and platform-based (cloud?) software and services. Yet these technologies, while they are necessary, are not sufficient. How they are combined and reflected in company strategy, processes and operations are what is critical to success.
  • There are at least four key attributes of a bionic company:
    1. Strong sense of purpose.
    2. Focus on business outcomes (personalizing customer experiences, improving processes, building new offers.
    3. Human talent with creativity, critical thinking, design and technical skills in autonomous teams empowered to make decisions quickly.
    4. Leveraging modular technology stacks that are adaptable and “liberate data”.

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Jim Love
Jim Love
I've been in IT and business for over 30 years. I worked my way up, literally from the mail room and I've done every job from mail clerk to CEO. Today I'm CIO and Chief Digital Officer of IT World Canada - Canada's leader in ICT publishing and digital marketing.

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