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[NEW RESEARCH BRIEF] The OPPOSITE Approach: 8 Success Factors of Digital Transformation

Brian Solis





“The one constant of change is that it’s always for someone else...except it's not.”

Today's customers demand to be recognized across every channel, whether online or offline. They don't care about which part of the company they are dealing with, to them, there's only one brand.  Yet, companies continue to give customers a disconnected experience, with sales, service and marketing each working to engage the audience on their own, without coordinating their efforts. It makes customers frustrated, disengaged and disloyal. In a 2013 research study by Oracle, 89% of customers said they had switched brands due to a bad customer experience. 

The convergence of technology and behavior is only accelerating and the butterfly effect it causes is transformative and disruptive. Markets are shifting to such extent that they open the door to innovation with new products, services and ways of doing business becoming the norm as a result. All of this is (and has been) playing out at the expense or demise of those who continue down a path of business as usual. The need to change is no longer something for everyone else, it is the first step toward one of the most important movements in business evolution today…digital transformation.

At Altimeter Group (now a Prophet company), I have lead, along with my colleague Jaimy Szymanski, several research studies on the subject. As part of this work, we’ve interviewed many executives who are leading transformation to document the challenges they face, the opportunities they uncover and more so, what it is they do to navigate the complexities of uncertainty, bureaucracy, politics, skepticism, fear, etc., to make progress. Along the way, we’ve observed a series of patterns that help executives make the case for change, earn support and also the the little (and sometimes big) steps that lead to digital transformation. These learnings have been assembled into a new report, Eight Success Factors of Digital Transformation: How businesses are taking an O.P.P.O.S.I.T.E. approach to business as usual. It is now available for download.


Change always starts with one step and more often than not, I found that zeroing in on the digital customer experience uncovers areas of immediate opportunities to learn, experiment and eliminate existing hurdles and points of friction in the customer journey.  Altimeter's "OPPOSITE" framework is an acronym that represents the best practices guiding transformation efforts around the digital customer experience.

They apply to eight key areas of focus:

  1. Orientation: Establish a new perspective to drive meaningful change.
  2. People: Understand customer values, expectations and behaviors. 
  3. Processes: Assess operational infrastructure and update (or revamp) technologies, processes and policies to support change. 
  4. Objectives: Define the purpose of digital transformation, aligning stakeholders (and shareholders) around the new vision and roadmap.
  5. Structure: Form a dedicated digital experience team with roles/responsibilities/objectives/accountability clearly defined.
  6. Insights & Intent: Gather data and apply insights toward strategy to guide digital evolution.
  7. Technology: Re-evaluate front and back-end systems for a seamless, integrated and native customer (and ultimately employee) experience.
  8. Execution: Implement, learn and adapt to steer ongoing digital transformation and customer experience work.

For companies looking to jumpstart their digital transformation efforts, this report provides a blueprint for stakeholders across the organization to come together, create a shared vision and take the first steps towards thriving in the new digital reality. Change starts with you.




  1. Emmanuel A. Otchere says:

    This is well outlined and broken down to some very basic forms. I think you’ve brought the practical view to the success factors. But there are equally additional sub-entities that are also quite crucial and could be highlighted as a means to provide interlock in deriving the value of any digital transformation.
    Usually I’d sum it up at four levels:
    – Strategy (a strategy that isn’t executable or doesn’t have a strong execution to it isn’t a strategy. It fails the “litmus test” of being executable. Such a strategy needs to have orientation and of-course an intent – objective.). The strategy is from leadership, and it’s leadership to drive that strategy whether based on a top-down or a bottom-up model. Measuring the success of strategy will come from how well the execution goes. Which means level of stakeholder alignment, completeness of vision, clarity in road-map etc. Thus with strategy comes the need to have an organization that can deliver to the vision, mission and gals.
    – Organization (Having the right people, the right objective targeted structure and the right mechanism for governance, including mindset to ensure that values, expectations and behaviors can be structured into roles responsibility, objectives etc. to deliver on the mandate of strategy). Then what will be required is define the day-to-day of what to do and how-to-do, when-to-do for the Why’s which will be based on the Strategy and the Organization. This will bring me to:
    – Operations, another key dimension that feeds into the success of a digital transformation. Executing a strategy requires that the operational nuances that actually enable handshake between the organizational units happen in a smooth way to meet the tenets of the business. Establishing the organization with the right people, structure and objectives is not enough if the processes, policies and interactions needed between people, functions and objectives are not well laid out. This means bringing in the right processes, orchestration of business-value based workflows can happen in a way to ensure an incremental delight of customers. Operations will be about people, processes and information inter-relating to deliver day-to-day objectives.
    – Technology of course is an enabler. Bringing in better environment for collaboration, efficiency in handling processes and workflows and even providing a means to better orchestrate value in fulfillment and assurance programs.
    – Data is the new currency within Digital organizations. It is created and needed at every point of interaction and underpins the need for technology in enabling better operations within the organization in order to achieve the strategic digital objectives the business aims for. Measuring the success with how much data an organization employs, uses and realizes means and solutions to customer experience and operations efficiency are therefore another very important area of measure. The concept of turning every role, function, workflow in daisy chains of data using API’s is a good example of how well an organization can optimize it’s internal business. If any person working in an organization cannot process data and offer or handshake a process hand-off with processed data, then there is a missing link. This practical approach to transforming or digitalizing processes thus ends up with an organization that understands the essence of it’s composition as a data-reliant business, and therefore using that means to continuously optimize itself across strategy, organization, operations and indeed even the technology.

  2. Fenton Chambers says:

    The approach in the paper touches on many of the essential elements of a successful digital transformation.

    My recent MBA dissertation on digital transformation argued the barriers to a successful digital transformation is largely centred on organizational culture. Therefore, you should not understate the importance of leadership in a successful change.

    How best to flatten the organizational structure into a more collaborative operation? Not easy, and IT must learn to demonstrate how it can support change, rather than being an unsupportive obstacle. There is a hesitancy in organizations to invest in IT solutions, the reality being that budgets are limited, and IT roadmaps require significant expenditure often on “stable” technology.

    However, as you rightly say, understanding the “human centred approach” and being agile enough to adapt business models and processes to this, and to technology, is vital. Without understanding the topics you highlight, can leave organizations constantly occupying space somewhere on the late majority curve or worse when it comes to digital transformation.

  3. Benito Castro says:

    Thank you for the paper. Just my view related to point 5. I think digital transformation includes the whole company, going beyond than just a team. If the team is a tool that´s different. But, we can´t forget anyway the relevance of the company change as the unique structure in the digital transformation, especially when the leaders who permit the evolution are in different departments and not only in a team…

    From Sevilla, Spain.