This blog originally appeared on Center for Digital Strategies.
I currently work at Analog Devices, a diversified semiconductor company that enables customers to interpret the world around them by intelligently bridging the physical and the digital. You can find our products in virtually any electronic device across every industry, from automotive safety to consumer handsets to factory robots. I am responsible for the evolution, organization, and execution of our strategic planning processes as we seek to continue to grow by identifying and acting on new market and technology opportunities.
Constantly! Our business has always focused on sensing and measuring the “real” world, then connecting it with the digital world where it can be processed and turned into useful insights that customers can use to create a valuable business outcome. When business processes migrate to the cloud, it usually creates an opportunity for us because now there’s a mechanism that can make use of more data, often in real time, and when it comes to generating more real-world real-time data we can generate more data from more sensors than you can imagine. So we have to be on our toes and recognize when these dislocations are happening, assess the impact we could have, and then decide how we should proceed.
I think that overall it has created tremendous opportunity, as the demand for expertise in the sense-measure-connect loop continues to rise. But it has also encouraged an increase in competition; everybody wants to jump in to this space and many of the new entrants are players with enormous potential to support scale. In addition, it has forced us to begin to rethink our business models (for example, should we be trying to build services and platforms around our data capabilities, rather than simply selling big volumes of chips?) and has changed the way many of our customers want to interact with us. We see more and deeper partnerships with customers built around digital strategies and our participation in very complex ecosystems (shout out to Professor Adner and his work here!).
This massive rethinking extends to our own business processes as well. Our sales and marketing teams are now armed with an extensive set of online selling tools and sophisticated opportunity pipeline management technology to help them help their customers better. I don’t even know if we have printed collateral any more. Finally, digital is completely changing the way we interact with customers on a daily basis, particularly in the way we use the web to deliver a highly customized experience that maximizes the relevance of the content that we deliver to each customer. People build fairly extensive relationships with us before they have any human contact!
For me, the lessons came from working with other Fellows who had different interests than my own. It was around the time of the dot-com boom-and-bust, and I had a fairly cynical view of the online madness, seeing it as a lot of hype that really wasn’t generating anything that would last. My peers in the CDS really helped me change my mindset, cut through the hype, and see what the real potential was for digitization over the long-term. That has been useful to me throughout my post-Tuck career where I’ve worked as a consultant, an operations analyst, a product manager, and now a strategic planner. The market has a way of creating a massive excite-and-disappoint cycle where it hypes new technologies and doesn’t have a lot of patience for experimentation. I learned from CDS that you need to be patient, embrace the uncertainty and experimentation that a new space needs, and stay open-minded.
Now you’ve invited me to ramble, so I will take you up on it. Hopefully some of it is good advice!
Center for Digital Strategies offers several MBA Enrichment programs to Tuck School students. The MBA Fellows Program gives second year students the opportunity to deep dive into digital stategies through in depth research projects, on campus events, networking opportunities, and more.