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CRISPR/Cas9, a gene editing technology first identified in the late 80s, has fast become one of the most promising emerging technologies on the market today. The road to commercial applications, however, appears complex, showing no clear indication of when and how the technology will achieve commercial scale.

In the late 90s, Google founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin recognized the massive impact a then little-understood and mostly theoretical Internet would have, not only to enable communication but the sharing and discovery of information. By riding this massive trend, Google founders built one of the most commercially successful companies in history.

The stories of CRISPR/Cas9 and the Internet are like those of other emerging technologies like blockchain, AI, IoT, and others. Though currently mostly theoretical and not fully understood from a commercial perspective, corporations that tap into and ride the massive trends they herald stand to reap similar benefits to those of Google.

As a business owner or key decision-maker in your organization, getting in front of an accelerating technological trend can propel your organization into massive commercial success.

Silicon Valley Innovation Center’s Leading Digital Transformation executive immersion program helps senior corporate executives discover and get in front of massive trends, incorporate new technology and manage resultant change all while protecting the existing business.

Through the program, executives interact with Silicon Valley startups pioneering commercial applications of emerging technologies while hearing from technology and innovation thought leaders. Here’s a look into Day 4 of the program.

Digital Reinvention: Adoption of IoT, Machine Learning and AI

According to IDG’s 2018 State of Digital Business Transformation report, 55% of startups have a digital business strategy in place compared to just 38% of traditional corporations. A Futurum 2018 Digital Transformation Index report went further to find that of surveyed senior executives, over 50% cited lack of access to technology partners as the biggest hurdle on the quest for digital transformation.

What is clear from these two findings is that startups have the upper hand when it comes to utilizing emerging technologies, while traditional corporations can benefit from partnering with startups. But, how and why should traditional organizations partner with startups?

The answer lies in the difficulty of adopting emerging technologies like IoT, Machine Learning and AI. Such technologies, only now gaining mainstream adoption, require sophisticated and scarce skills to implement and commercialize.

As a corporation seeking to experiment with these technologies, it would be both expensive and impractical to create internal teams to tackle such emerging tech. The answer lies in partnering with startups working on new products based on these technologies to discover how they can be integrated into the core enterprise.

Blockchain Emerging Technologies: Retail and Supply Chain Use Case

How can blockchain transform the retail and supply chain sectors? This was the question addressed in the second session of the day led by a senior executive from ICIX, a data and analytics startup pioneering blockchain in retail and supply chain management.  

In retail and supply chain management, two of the biggest risks that companies face are a compromised brand and reputation. Because of so many moving parts in the form of trading partners, suppliers and manufacturers, companies often struggle to maintain end-to-end integrity of products and services.

Blockchain has the potential to change this. By utilizing smart contracts, retailers and supply chain players can tag and log every step a product takes throughout the value chain. In so doing, businesses can quickly identify and remedy any issues that may compromise the brand or product.

However, to gain this level of visibility, enterprises may need to work with startups like ICIX that have ready-built blockchain infrastructure necessary to connect data sources and provide a unified view of the value chain.

Such a solution, connecting disparate enterprise systems such as ERP, CRM, POS, OSM, and others into an extended virtual business platform that connects internal and external data, would both save the enterprise money and speed up its deployment of the blockchain.

Improving Marketing and Sales Emerging Technologies through Cross-functional System and Platform Integration

The traditional enterprise is built on functional systems – siloed departmental systems designed to work independently and only within one context such as accounting, sales, marketing, or manufacturing. The modern enterprise, on the other hand, is built on a core cross-functional platform often referred to as ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) or EAI (Enterprise Application Integration) with multiple functions feeding into one core.

In the third session of the day, a partner growth manager at Branch, a mobile analytics startup based in Silicon Valley, took participants through the marketing and sales advantages of having a centralized cross-functional system.

Typically, customers interact with multiple departments at any given time. When ordering an item, for example, a customer’s transaction cycle may include marketing, sales, transport and logistics, billing and accounting, and customer care.

In a cross-functional platform scenario, all the data collected about the customer from all these departments would be collated into a centralized database and analyzed for marketing and sales intelligence.

Having such a competitive advantage underpins the importance of digitally transforming core systems within an enterprise to unlock insights and value hidden away in underutilized data.

Applying Value Transformation Frameworks to Your Products, Company and Value Chain

The ultimate goal of any digital transformation effort is enhanced value delivery – whether this relates to people (customers, employees), processes (operating and business models), or profits. To achieve value, organizations need to apply value transformation frameworks even as they seek digital transformation.

A value transformation framework seeks to help organizations address key questions such as:

  • How do we generate new ideas?
  • How do we validate our ideas?
  • How can we prove new business ideas?
  • How do we innovate efficiently?

Andy Zhulenev, vice president and senior innovation strategist at Silicon Valley Innovation Center was on hand to steer this final session of the day.

According to “Business Transformation: Driving the Optimum Value,” a report from KPMG and Forbes Insights, 34% of CEOs of U.S.-based multinationals said that past transformation programs failed to achieve targeted business benefits. This story is repeated across different industries and across different-sized companies that set out to digitally transform without a working value transformation framework in place.

To avoid a similar fate, enterprises must design and deploy a value transformation framework that utilizes scenario planning to identify possible value-based outcomes of digital transformation. For instance, a value transformation framework can include developing an innovation genome, adopting design thinking, applying lean startup methodologies, and identifying gateway adopters.

In this way, transformation aspirations are strategically aligned with identifiable and measurable future value. Then, working backward, senior executives must communicate this strategy effectively, translate it into actions, and then link metrics to this overall vision.

Day 4 Conclusion

Day 4 of the Leading Digital Transformation executive immersion program concluded with a showcase of startups building innovative products using IoT, blockchain and AI. Later, participants attended a networking event in San Francisco.

From the day’s talks and sessions, participants gained a deeper understanding and appreciation of how emerging technologies are reshaping the enterprise. Interacting with innovative startups and thought leaders also offered further perspective and impetus to the importance of undertaking digital transformation in the right way to hedge against disruption and unlock new and stronger competitive advantages.

Leading Digital Transformation Executive immersion Program

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