Success in Troubled Occasions: Take a Digital Pivot


After Yañez quickly updated his remote access infrastructure, he sent all 1,000 of his IT staff home, where they have been working ever since. This remote IT group was able to support Walmarts massive activity in the region – nearly 2,400 stores, 42,000 vendors and suppliers in the supply chain and 200,000 employees.

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At the same time, Walmart accelerated its digital transformation efforts and created an omnichannel shopping experience for its customers. Now they can shop online and have products delivered, shop online and pick up in-store, shop in-store and pick up previously ordered items, or any combination thereof.

“Everything should be easier, regardless of the channel, the situation and the location. That is the intention, and that was the mission three or four years ago, ”says Yañez. During the lockdown and physical distancing pandemic, “Everything is accelerating. It's like a time machine. What we wanted three years ago and were part of our five year mission is now a reality. "

The result: Walmart stores and clubs – there is one within 10 miles of almost every home in Mexico – are open for business. The safety of employees and customers is a priority. E-commerce sales saw triple-digit growth.

Walmart is a prime example of a company that has successfully negotiated a "digital pivot". Almost every company had a pre-existing digital transformation plan. In many cases, companies are diligent but may not urgently implement their plans. in others they had extended multi-year programs. However, the coronavirus pandemic is a catastrophic, one-off disruption that is forcing companies to face a new reality and reorganize their digital transformation activities in order to survive.

Now in our new normal, that's business

"We believe that in the past four months, through our conversations with CIOs, CTOs, CISOs, and chief data and digital officers, there has been a linchpin of the type of organization you fall into," said Paul Lewis, more global CTO at Hitachi Vantara.

The technology provider sees three types of organizations addressing the unprecedented disruption from the pandemic. There's Thriver – think Zoom, Netflix, Amazon. These are companies where virtually every imaginable metric grows by orders of magnitude – number of customers, number of subscriptions, number of transactions. At the other end of the spectrum are the companies that need the physical presence of customers – theme parks, movie theaters, hotels, airlines. You saw the revenue fall off a cliff. Then there are companies in industries like retail, financial services, and manufacturing that have been forced to change business practices and business models on the fly. For example, in the areas of finance and insurance, the switch to digital signatures and mobile apps. For a small retailer with a store in the mall who is migrating to e-commerce or finding alternative distribution channels.

In general, the companies that adapt best are companies with a high degree of digital maturity. "The more mature the organization was with modern philosophy, modern design and modern architecture, the healthier they move in and the healthier they move out," says Howard Holton, CTO for companies at Hitachi Vantara.

Companies that followed digital transformation initiatives “on paper” – that is, received top-down instructions from the CEO to create a plan, for example – did not take the actual implementation seriously, according to Holton. As a result, they didn't adapt as well as their peers.

“The companies that have taken a company-wide initiative have been able to change and move forward. Your company needs to be designed so that you can adapt to the demands of the market, ”says Holton. "That is the main differentiator and really the most important lesson we should have learned by this point."

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Steven Gregory