Digital Ladders and Snakes: Enterprise Capability Accelerators and Inhibitors

Lionel Grealou Data Digital Platform 3 minutes

Enterprise capabilities: maturity models and deployment roadmaps

Business competencies regroup multiple capabilities which are not uniform across the organizations despite implementation of various digital technologies. Over the past decades, multiple maturity models have been developed to assess enterprise capabilities, how they align to organizational strategies, how operational processes, tools and resources compare to industry standards. Most maturity model use a combination of criteria to measure relative business value: e.g. from unstructured to repeatable, defined, managed and optimized capabilities.

Maturity models, standards, methodologies, and guidelines exist that can help an organization improve the way it does business.

CMMI, by the Software Maintenance Group

Business maturity is a relative measure, therefore it required a benchmark level or standard to compare to a specific organizational context. Aligning to the relevant set standards is often misunderstood or underestimated. Broadly speaking, stage maturity models guide the transformation process needed to adopt new technologies or enterprise platforms. They typically help the development of digital platform implementation roadmaps by asserting the following:

  • Current pain points and opportunities for improvement
  • Current improvement and development plans
  • Process, people, interface and system alignment
  • Ability to adapt and adopt change (cultural and organizational structure factors)
  • Investment levels and business value realization phasing

Different industry standards or maturity expectations must be set based on business strategy and relevant delivery models (market, product line, service portfolio, make or buy strategy, carry-over / legacy data, business lifecycle, legacy, end-to-end ecosystem, type of data, skills and talents required, level of integration, agility and ability to change, culture, supply chain, commercial and revenue generation models, etc.). There is therefore no “one size fits all” approach to capability maturity assessment and expectation setting. There can however be a common and consistent approach to performing maturity assessments, by linking to results or expected results.

Another way to look at maturity models is to consider data and process complexity, as well as operational factors and behaviours which govern these processes; this imply maturity ranging from ad-hoc-based and informal at the low end, via a company-wide standardized approach and automation in the middle, all the way to a cross-company (inter-partner) implementation at the top end.

Digital ladders: value accelerator opportunities

It is often assumed that everything must be automated and seamlessly integrated in order to reach the highest level of maturity. Maturity levels typically include considerations across 3 core dimensions:

  1. Capability level: sophistication of the business practices used to support and integrate each disciplines
  2. Adoption depth: degree to which the routine execution of the capabilities are ingrained in the organizational “DNA”
  3. Adoption scope: breadth of adoption of the capabilities across the enterprise

Implementing tools, technologies and enterprise platforms (systems such as PLM, ERP, CRM, MES, etc.) contribute to optimizing business value through improved automation and integration. On the paper, implementing such platforms, automation, developing new skills and optimizing organizational structures form an integral part of business development roadmaps. Furthermore, “digital ladders” present opportunities to accelerate business adoption, improve collaboration, remove duplication and align to selected master data strategies. These opportunities present themselves in the form of one or more of the following factors:

  • Suitable and sizeable business change scope: focusing on enabling new capabilities (business transformation rather than perceived technology upgrade)
  • Business “pull” rather than “push”
  • Phased value realization, impacting enterprise-wide team across the business (covering the full value chain, from suppliers to customers)
  • Minimal viable product scoping to build a platform of change, supported by early business adoption of new solutions

Digital snakes: managing threats from value inhibitors

Simply put, “digital snakes” are barriers to new capability implementation and new digital practice adoption; they include:

  • Technical gaps, impacting target capabilities or transition to the new capability (e.g. legacy data migration and data quality issues)
  • Enterprise data architecture gaps, failing to bridge the operational continuum between functions and enabling business collaboration
  • Operational inconsistencies (skills, business models, competency alignment gaps)
  • Business change, prioritization and adoption gaps, coupled with fear of accepting change from entrenched user habits formed over the years

The common challenge faced by organizations is not the availability or implementation of new digital capabilities or platforms. Rather, it is the technical integration and business change adoption in its value chain, which determines the success of the digital roadmap and strategy.

What are your thoughts?

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About the Author

Lionel Grealou


Lionel Grealou, a.k.a. Lio, helps original equipment manufacturers transform, develop, and implement their digital transformation strategies—driving organizational change, data continuity and process improvement, managing the lifecycle of things across enterprise platforms, from PDM to PLM, ERP, MES, PIM, CRM, or BIM. Beyond consulting roles, Lio held leadership positions across industries, with both established OEMs and start-ups, covering the extended innovation lifecycle scope, from research and development, to engineering, discrete and process manufacturing, procurement, finance, supply chain, operations, program management, quality, compliance, marketing, etc.

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