Dushyanth Sekhar
December 16, 2018

Culture- A competitive differentiator in the digital age

Dushyanth Sekhar has written an article on his interpretation of the Global State of Operational Excellence Survey Report - Critical Challenges & Future Trends - 2018/2019.  Click here to download the full Survey Report 2018/19.  


The Most Comprehensive Study of Critical Challenges and Future Trends within Operational Excellence

With nearly 1000 respondents, 37 insightful questions, detailed analysis & insights from 40 industry thought leaders, and the BTOES Insights executive team, this 130 page report is recognised as the most comprehensive study of critical challenges and future trends within Operational Excellence, and is considered a key resource for the industry. Areas covered include:

  • The Critical Operational Excellence Challenges faced by executives.

  • The Current Scope of Operational Excellence.

  • How is Operational Excellence success measured?

  • Key Findings & Roadblocks.

  • What are executives focusing on over the next 12-18 months?

  • What have been the greatest developments?

  • What are the key drivers pushing change in Operational Excellence?

  • Industry Perspectives.

  • Small, Medium & Large Corporation Perspectives.

  • Detail Analysis & Insights from BTOES Insights Executive Team.

  • Detailed Analysis & Insights from 40 Industry Thought Leaders.

  • Analysis of key themes, including Cultural Transformation, Customer Delight, Sustaining an Operational Excellence program, Need for end-to-end Business Transformation, Keeping up with new technologies/impact of digitalization and Leadership Buy-in & Understanding.


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Culture- A competitive differentiator in the digital age

As rapid advancements in technology are making customer interactions more seamless, there is a race to digitize. Organizations are investing billions of dollars in new-age technologies.  Machine learning, artificial intelligence and robotics have become the buzz words in board rooms across the world, and the battle rages on for acquiring and retaining top digital talent. Traditional process improvements tools like Lean and Six Sigma are making a comeback as more and more companies realize the need to optimize before unleashing the power of the algorithms.  

Customer delight is no longer the exception – it is the norm.  Organizations have to be agile and break away from traditional operating models in order to deliver a customer experience, which not only meets the explicit customer needs, but also the implicit ones, within every customer interaction.

As these paradigms shift rapidly, it is very interesting to see that more than half (53%) of the respondents have stated that the biggest challenge they face is “Changing & improving the company culture.” This number is even more startling, when you note only 29% see “Keeping up with new technologies” as a challenge, and only about 1 in 7 (13%) say it’s “Lack of/Need for skilled workers.”  While the talk is all about AI and robotics, why do so many leaders think, culture is the key ingredient for operational excellence?

Click here to read the full Survey Report 2018/19.   




Culture drives Innovation

Here are two quotes from the report that succinctly summarize the correlation between innovation / operational excellence and culture

  • “Your best assets are your people: You need everyone rowing in the same direction to drive this type of change”

  • “As a 50 years + company we have to adjust to the new, more competitive environment and need to get everybody on board to increase productivity and accountability of employees”

Innovation programs can be significantly derailed if people are not aligned. Even technology giants will lose out in the modern data economy if they do not understand the need to build the right culture. Click here to read more Articles on The Global State of Operational Excellence: Critical Challenges & Future Trends - Research Report 2018/19.

Culture- A competitive differentiator in the digital age

Apple analyst Gene Munster explained that the relative failure of Siri compared to rivals such as Amazon’s Alexa is fundamentally because "artificial intelligence is not in Apple’s DNA." Apple’s corporate culture has been built around commercializing physical products and the software applications that support them, whereas succeeding today requires a culture built around thinking "AI first." Apple also has a culture of privacy which clashes with the need to harvest and exploit the industrial quantities of data.

So it’s important for C–level executives to not get subsumed by the hyperbole of the technologies but to focus and invest time and resources in building the right culture and ecosystem before they double down on investments in robotics, machine learning or AI.  It is clear from the survey, the respondents recognize this.




What can organizations do?

  • Democratize Innovation – A few people innovating and driving operational excellence in a back room never scales. It’s important to be inclusive, demystify modern day technologies for all employees and create new career paths where everyone can contribute toward this transformation. This will help create an ecosystem which augments learning agility and a growth mind set. Eventually, this is about amplifying human ingenuity, and this can only happen if leaders are invested to upskill employees and help people to work through this changing landscape.


  • Promote Experimentation & Reward Failure – Traditional business models value being right and knowing all the answers. Organizational cultures have to make a shift here and value dissent, promote rapid iterations and reward failures in some cases. Employees have to be empowered to tease out ideas and learn in the process.  “I know everything” is obsolete – “I am ready to learn everything” and “I can fail as I learn” should be accepted and rewarded.


  • Breakdown Hierarchical Barriers – The role of leader has to change – the future leaders will have a vision, help remove road blocks and get out of the way. Situational leadership will replace titles – where anyone can step in and play a leadership role as the situation demands and then step back.  Small, self-sustained, agile teams will need to replace vertical structures.



To summarize – the true differentiator in the future will be an organization’s culture. The winners won’t be the ones with the best black belts or engineers but those who can coalesce their human capital with the modern technologies, empower and upskill their workforce and embrace diversity and inclusion.

Want to learn more? Download the full Report.
Culture- A competitive differentiator in the digital age


About the Author 

Dushyanth Sekhar:Culture- A competitive differentiator in the digital ageDushyanth Sekhar

Senior Director, Center for Automation, Robotics and Extraction (CARE)- S&P Gobal

The role involves working across all 4 divisions of S&P Global – S&P Ratings, S&P Global Market Intelligence, S&P Platts & S&P Dow Jones Indices, and to set and execute a strategy for enterprise wide initiatives to transform major internal processes and operations using automation, lean & Six Sigma. Responsible for creating, maintaining and executing a process improvement and automation strategy road map. Automation initiatives involve using robotic process automation (RPA), machine learning and other cognitive tools. Check out his LinkedIn profile.



The issues in this article are just one of topic areas that are going to be discussed at the Business Transformation & Operational Excellence World Summit & Industry (BTOES19). March 18-22, 2019, Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando Resort®

BTOES is the industry’s biggest and best, senior-level, cross-industry gathering of Business Transformation & Operational Excellence industry leaders and senior executives.

It also hosts the Business Transformation & Operational Excellence Awards, which showcase globally the most outstanding organizational achievements through the application of Operational Excellence programs.

The summits hosts a number of private forums for C-Level & Global corporate-level leaders as well as business unit heads.

With over 150 speakers, over 100 sessions, 12 Keynotes, 9 Track Themes, 5 parallel tracks, 60+ track sessions, 50 roundtable discussions, 20 Interactive Workshops, 6 Thought Leader Panels, 5 Leaders Boardrooms, 5 co-located events, the Industry Awards Program, Site Visits, 20+ hours of social networking including 2 gala cocktail parties, dinners, numerous group activities, this is the ultimate event to benchmark, network and drive Operational Excellence to the next level.


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There is a strong focus on Cultural Transformation, Customer Delight, Sustaining an Operational Excellence program, Need for end-to-end Business Transformation, Keeping up with new technologies/impact of digitalization and Leadership Buy-in & Understanding. We dedicated two tracks to advanced technologies, such as AI, Machine Learning, RPA, Predictive Analytics, Blockchain, Cloud infrastructure etc.


The agenda is designed to encourage active meaningful conversations though all day enhanced networking and interaction opportunities, including

  • All-day Refreshment & Themed Breaks

  • 1¼ Hour Hot Breakfast Networking Sessions

  • 1½ Hour Hot Plated Networking Lunches with Topic & Industry Sector focussed tables

  • 1½ Hour Roundtable Sessions by Topic & Industry Sector.

  • Keynote & Themes Panel Sessions

  • Hosted Welcome Receptions from 5.30pm

  • Expanded more lavish Awards Program

  • Newly launched Night Summit for attendees to meet after dinner

For more information or to discuss the summit in more detail please schedule a call below,

Click here to schedule a call. 

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