Your business depends on remaining nimble in an ever-shifting market ecosystem.

By Tara Whitehead Stotland, Leader Strategy and Sales Enablement, Cognizant’s Greenlight Consulting team

Convergence is everywhere in the modern enterprise. CVS, a retail company, bought Aetna, a health insurance company, to become CVS Health. The combined company leveraged its joint strength to reimagine the traditional retail experience and become Target’s in-store pharmaceutical provider. This instantly extended their reach by 1,672 pharmacies in 47 states without laying a brick. And the more digital changes drive companies like CVS to rethink their core identity, the more these organizations can also streamline back-office operations and infrastructure to realize automation and efficiencies.

While synergies between these two companies seem straight-forward, many future-forward organizations are exploring collaboration and growth opportunities across industries that don’t seem to be related in any way, spurred on by a digital transformation. Technology is turning more companies into software driven organizations, which makes disparate companies seem more similar than ever before. Financial institutions, retailers, airlines, hotels, and restaurants are just a few types of organizations we often interact with via their mobile application. So, what does this mean for your business, and how do you advance your journey to becoming a modern enterprise?

Examples of leading-edge companies include:

  • In Canada, a telecom company has created and is expanding a start-up e-pharmacy. They also own a real estate business.
  • In the U.K., Aston Martin has packaged its luxury engineering and manufacturing processes into a consultancy business, offering its design and production expertise to projects such as buses in London and yachts.
  • Abbott, headquartered in Chicago, is vertically integrating in the healthcare life sciences space with products ranging from COVID tests to diabetes monitors to pharmaceuticals and more.
  • Cox Enterprises, a large family-owned business, spans multiple industries, including communications (cable, phone, internet, home security), automotive (AutoTrader, Kelley Blue Box), media (broadcasting and newspapers), and the video advertising service Gamut.
  • Google’s parent company, Alphabet, gobbles up and creates new companies at lightning speed. Started as a research project at Stanford just over two decades ago, the organization now encompasses artificial intelligence, automation, autonomous cars, biotechnology, cloud computing, computer hardware, corporate venture capital, healthcare, robotics, retail, and software.

As a VAR, you need to look at the impact of this evolution from two angles.  What is the effect on your own business and that of your clients?   Whether or not your business is expanding its reach, you can be sure that many of your clients are. As their needs change, your organization must be ready to respond. You might even capture new business from competitors who aren’t as nimble.

Making the most of an organization’s portfolio means taking evaluating your organization’s:

  • Vision and purpose. How much can you bite off? You want to be the best, but you can’t do everything. What’s in scope, and when do you partner?
  • Core values and cultural mindset. When you build or acquire, do the cultures and values match? Do you feel comfortable, or will one side need to change a lot to fit in?
  • Key leverage points. The first area typically combined is the back office, but that’s only the beginning in the age of digital transformation.

While the first two points seem straightforward, what about the third? How do you identify those key leverage points that might create synergies between different parts of your organization?

Identifying Key Leverage Points

In a merger, acquisition, or even a strategic partnership, organizations often focus first on obvious back-office consolidations, but then the real work begins. Most companies are about 50 percent digitized, so they are at a mid-point in their journey. Some of our key clients work with our team to help them on their journey. These are the questions our clients often ask, and they are a great place to start in your organization:

  • What do the companies we are bringing together have in common? What can we make similar so that it works together? What are the common denominators that I can lay as a foundation?
  • Can we leverage the same digital channels or digital automations across the varying businesses? Can we find tools that help bring our people and processes together across the portfolio?
  • How do we run this company at the portfolio level to drive modern business processes across all these disparate businesses?

At Cognizant, we find that there can be more in common than you would think. The 80/20 rule is about the right mix of standards to customization, even at the business level, once you consider industry level, market level, and company level synergies. And when you look for products and partnerships, you can first look at your own organization. For example, it’s natural that CVS Health would provide healthcare to its own employees through Aetna.

And once you start asking these questions, don’t stop. The key to remaining relevant is constantly revisiting how you can improve your tools, people, and processes.

Where Is Your Enterprise on Its Journey?

Knowing this is happening is the first step, but you probably wonder where your organization is on its journey. To see how close businesses are to reaching a future-ready state, Cognizant commissioned Economist Impact to conduct a survey of 2,000 senior executives from across industries and geographies and to create a future-ready benchmarking tool that you can use at no charge.

The companion report is telling. From this research, the Cognizant team identified these critical, interrelated areas that are essential for businesses as they prepare for the future:

  1. Get the full value from rapid technology acceleration and data-intensive ways of working
  2. Prepare the workforce for the new types of work brought on by a digital mindset
  3. Take real, sustained action to become resilient in the face of the urgent environmental, social, and governance (ESG) challenges ahead.

But our analysis also reveals that few businesses have put all these pieces in place. The key to moving forward is in aligning your technological progress and processes with a balanced approach in hiring, training, and maintaining your people. With these aspects balanced, your organization is poised to thrive in the future of work, whatever that may be.


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