Evolution of executing strategic initiatives in conglomerate businesses
The digital transformation approach in the case of one of the major conglomerate clients has been quite instructive. The focus has been on how to manage various strategic initiatives in a comprehensive way, and the impact has been across business units and functions therein with marked improvements in relevant performance areas.
Modern conglomerates need to see their business portfolio as a whole and not just as a group of separate entities. Conglomerates that have been growing their portfolios organically over many years, perhaps decades, start feeling the increasing weight of their long chain of businesses. It becomes imperative for them to initiate powerful changes across their operations which help them meet their strategic goals effectively.
Bringing coherence to diversified businesses & unlocking synergies
Any conglomerate would need to take up specific initiatives, on a continuous basis, to keep their businesses in coherence and gain benefits from inherent synergies. These initiatives could be in response to macroeconomic drivers, market changes, or the need to align to a common vision. Successful execution of such initiatives can boost growth and ROI.
Strategic initiatives while conceived at the group level, are executed at the business unit level. For instance, a conglomerate might decide to “Go Green” or transform its offerings as part of the “Customer First” strategy. These decisions would impact each business unit within the group differently. They would need to explore the synergies which can be leveraged across all the business units to achieve the goal.
This leads to a portfolio of strategic initiatives which can be organized by business drivers and strategies. The requirement in this case is to track the many-to-many relationships between such initiatives, systems, and business units. To really do this, the teams will need to collaborate and create visibility across the group.
A major source of synergies could be a consistent customer experience around all businesses. For example, by harmonizing the brand experience or leveraging customer insights across the group companies, a conglomerate can fundamentally change the growth trajectory of the business.
For the execution of such strategic initiatives, it is necessary to identify common strengths and implementations across the group. Modern workplace technologies can help leverage strengths and capabilities through the:
- Integrating disconnected systems to make it possible for them to work efficiently under unified management.
- Gain from crowdsourcing possibilities across group businesses’ employees and customers.
- Identifying the resources lying idle which can be shared between these organizations.
- Helping the multi-business teams better coordinate projects through digital collaboration tools.
- Strengthening the project management capabilities with modern tools to track better and respond to risks faster and better.
Enterprise project management technologies can be deployed across multiple business units, bolstering collaboration, harmony, and visibility. Portfolio management tools can help identify the right projects which align with the business drivers and provide the optimal mix of initiatives.
Innovation and idea management tools can bring forward suggestions and help evaluate them in line with business priorities. Such approaches to initiative management can truly unlock the conglomerate’s potential.
Insights and foresight
The portfolio of initiatives across multiple businesses can quickly spin out of control and turn wasteful if relevant data is not leveraged for tracking progress and results. This necessarily requires connecting to multiple systems and building unified data models to provide a comprehensive and timely view of performance.
Conglomerate businesses also need to see the broad picture in the context of the changing economic and consumer trends and get insights from their data to discover potential synergies.
Tapping into such synergies across group businesses and handling a portfolio of strategic interventions would require a consolidation of data from a wide range of sources and the ability to deeply analyze this data in real time to foresee the needs and the performance of these initiatives. The data infrastructure which includes aggregation, analysis, and visualization abilities becomes essential.
An evolving perspective toward strategic initiatives
We at Advaiya have been experiencing and influencing this evolved strategic initiative management perspective. We have implemented idea management, portfolio selection, project management, and data solutions to help conglomerates manage their initiatives successfully.
Beyond technology, a progressive, agile, and participative approach is critical, and that can truly allow a conglomerate to build a strong portfolio of businesses that thrive as a coherent and synergistic group.
(This article is by Manish Godha, Founder & CEO, Advaiya)