Digital transformation is more than saying “We are doing business in the 21st century, using 21st century tools.”

As a concept that originated in the ‘90s as a synonym for “digitization,” it has since evolved into the process by which companies update the source code of their people as well as their business.

In 2018, digital transformation brought AI into the mainstream, blockchain to the supply chain and the concept of “fast-failure” to the C-suite.

Still, according to a recent Forrester survey of 1,600 decision-makers, digital transformation is in a “sorry” state, with 22% “not investigating or not transforming at all” and of the 56% who are transforming, their investment and scope are “still mostly small.”

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For those of us who have seen countless traditional businesses disrupted, such a lack of diligence is concerning. Do we really want to delay the inevitable, or do we want to get out in front of it?

As a service to my fellow change agents, I would like to offer the following rundown of organizations that are nonetheless leading the charge of digital transformation, heading into 2019 as top innovation management companies.

While we also provide assistance to organizations looking to ignite the entrepreneurial spirit from within at Moves the Needle, these five innovation solution providers deserve a nod for their contribution to the industry.

5) The Big Three

McKinsey, Bain, and Boston Consulting have interesting things to say about digital transformation. They offer case studies, white papers and other original insights. If you have a complex portfolio of global businesses that you want to transform, the Big Three are probably a good fit.

The only caveat is that as large traditional businesses that comprise the lion’s share of the $250 billion management consulting industry, they gather most of their revenue from accounting and legal services—two areas, which we all know, are also undergoing serious transformation.

4) Innosight

Citi, Walgreens, P&G and Aetna are among its growing list of clients. Headquartered in Lexington, MA, with offices in Singapore and Switzerland, Innosight is among the more established firms providing digital transformation consulting.

Their approach flips the traditional consulting model. Instead of analyzing the past to devise a strategy for the future, Innosight reverse-engineers success based on predictive market models.

If the data-driven intensity sounds familiar, that’s because the firm has its roots in the traditional consulting world and its leadership are professors at Harvard Business School. Clayton M. Christensen, Innosight’s co-founder, even lays claim to the concept of “disruptive innovation,” as put forward in The Innovator’s Dilemma (Harvard Business Review Press, 1997).

Innosight appears to be winning with its strategy. In September, it announced a strategic partnership with Inventium, a Melbourne-based consultancy with national consumer brands as clients.

3) Bionic

Bionic pursues a best-of-both-worlds approach. Based in NYC, this relative newcomer combines the discretion of a prestige consultancy with the high-touch engagement of a boutique. Like one of the Big Three, there are no clients listed on its website and, though founded in 2013, it has branded itself as a trusted partner for established companies to remake themselves from within.

Growth OS™ is Bionic’s pilot program, running inside a corporation and guided by one of Bionic’s entrepreneurs-in-residence. The program “drives new growth mindsets, mechanics, methodologies and skills and provide tools to scale the capability throughout the organization.”

Bionic leans heavy on tech nomenclature. And is not above breathless self-endorsement. Nonetheless, the company does seem to rest on solid fundamentals. In 2017, it was named the 120th fastest-growing company in the US by Inc. Magazine, and its founders have won praise from top executives at LinkedIn, GE, NewsCorp and Ethos Water.

2) and 1) Konrad & Strategyzer

For our last two firms, digital transformation is a native proposition. Konrad, based in NYC, with offices in San Jose, Toronto and Vancouver, delivers a “full-spectrum” approach rooted in design thinking. Konrad has been around since 2007 and after starting out as an agency, has transformed itself into a global practice with Uber, Coca Cola, AmEx, Diageo and McDonald’s as clients. The approach is rapid prototyping of new digital products.

Strategyzer, founded in 2010, is perhaps the most real-time of all the consultancies I’ve run across.  A Salesforce for the management consulting set, based in Switzerland, the firm has diversified into a 360-degree business that includes in-person workshops, digital courses and books.

Business Model Canvas, an outgrowth of Alex Osterwalder’s bestselling book, is at the center of their offering, allowing more than five million entrepreneurs to practice innovation anytime, anywhere.

For me, democratization is a key ingredient of digital transformation. Strategyzer impresses because it scales for both individual innovators and key enterprises like Fujitsu, Microsoft, 3M and GE.

Final Thoughts

If your organization is in the 56% of companies who have at least begun the process of transformation, there is hope for you yet. But, for most in this boat, greater strides need to be made. Shifting focus to customer behavior and needs is how successful companies begin to navigate the uncertainty involved with innovation.

No one said it would be easy to optimize for discovery and learning while maintaining the ability to execute, which is why we (and those listed above) exist.

If it is apparent that transformation is a goal for your organization in the near future and you are just getting started on your journey, or if transformation has been explored, but not fully realized, understand that there are solutions to big problems that can be uncovered through the development of a new mindset and alternative set of skills.

An organization’s ability to leverage this new way of working to learn quickly and translate insight into action is the ultimate competitive advantage.

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