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Stephan Zech: In Digital Transformations, Operations Are Critical

Bain Partner Stephan Zech describes the importance of integrating new technological capabilities with a company’s strategy.


Stephan Zech: In Digital Transformations, Operations Are Critical

Businesses often face several sets of challenges when attempting digital transformations. Stephan Zech, a partner with Bain's Performance Improvement practice, discusses how operations are key to making these tranformations as smooth and effective as possible. 

Read the transcript below.

STEPHAN ZECH: When a company goes through a digital transformation, it's almost always the case that operations is the critical last mile to make that new strategy a reality, and that can be pretty challenging.

The first set of challenges is probably quite obvious. It's understanding what the future needs of the business are and what capabilities will be required, what technologies are needed to enable those capabilities, how to source those technologies, how to fund those investments. Those are all important questions that operations executives are asking themselves today.

And then, quickly, the next challenge becomes how to actually integrate these new capabilities into a legacy environment. For the vast majority of our clients, they cannot afford to shutter their core business and start fresh. And so it really does become an exercise of integrating and embedding these capabilities. And doing that effectively, we think, is a critical aspect of a successful digital transformation.

We have always advised our clients to make sure operations is tightly synchronized with the business. We think, given the rate of change and the magnitude of change, that's now as important as it's ever been. And so giving your operations leadership team a seat at the table during the strategy cycle early in the planning, we think, is absolutely key.

We also believe that adaptability and flexibility have become as important as lowest unit cost, for example. Given the amount of change and uncertainty that businesses are facing, that can be a real competitive advantage for a business.

So we think now is the time to ask yourself, is operations closely aligned with the path that your business is on? And are you intentionally building in flexibility and adaptability into your models so you can continue to serve an evolving consumer need and stay ahead of the competition?

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