Fail fast is all about deploying quick pilots and checking the outcome. If it does not work, then drop the concept or idea and move on to a new one.
This is an exclusive interview conducted by Santosh Vaswani, Journalist & Editor at CIO News with Krushna Sahoo, Director of Information Technology – Wealth & Retail Distribution at JM Financial Services Ltd.
What is the Fail Fast approach?
Success and failure are two sides of the same coin. No one wants to fail; we all want success everywhere. Anyone who wants to fail here obviously answers no. Why is it very difficult to accept failure?
This is because, from childhood, we learn throughout our education system all about success. Even our parents, family, and relatives always encourage us to be more successful.
No one encourages us to fail, and even no one talks about failure because of setbacks and disappointments, which is why there is a fear of failure in our minds when we start new things.
Tell me how you will be successful without failure. Today we will talk about failures only. Why is failure so important to us?
My book, “Fail Fast Learn Fast and Move On” launched in the middle of December 2023, all about how faster you fail, sooner you succeed. Failed fast, learn from your failure quickly, and implement for your success. Now it is available on Amazon: https://amzn.eu/d/2TaqjkM
and Flipkart: https://dl.flipkart.com/s/cst_v0NNNN
Let me explain what the Fast concept is.
Fail fast is all about deploying quick pilots and checking the outcome. If it does not work, then drop the concept or idea and move on to a new one. Be prepared to change the pace or direction as necessary and keep on trying until final success. It is all about how quickly you are turning your failures into success.
Why Should Business and Technology Leaders Fail Fast?
All business leaders must fail; no business will undergo digital transformation without any mistakes. Even Albert Einstein says, “A person who never made a mistake has never tried any new things.” If you are not failing now and again, you are not being very innovative.
One who fears failure limits his activity; failure is the only opportunity to start again more intelligently.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos believes that “most decisions should probably be made with around 70% of the information you wish you had. If you wait for 90%, you’re probably being slow in most cases.” He believes the risks of seeking perfection outweigh the risks of making a wrong decision, especially if you can learn from it and quickly respond to real-time customer feedback.
I am sure the Fail-fast approach will help all business leaders rapidly create, launch, or implement the innovation needed for digital transformation, with the potential to completely change the way their organization operates.
Business leaders should ensure that all changes are incremental, pushing out small changes frequently and measuring their effectiveness; this is exactly what Amazon does.
Now I will share with you a few individual examples of “fail-fast leaders” and those who succeed over time:
- Steve Jobs was fired from Apple but came back as CEO and made history.
He then started NeXT Computer after leaving Apple, and the company was later acquired by Apple itself. In 1997, Jobs rejoined the company as CEO. During his second tenure at Apple, Jobs took the company to new heights and achieved the greatest corporate success.
- Thomas Edison failed over 10,000 times before the success of the light bulb.
Yes! He failed 2774 times, according to his records, and then reached the working design of an electric light bulb. This is how many times Thomas failed to make a light bulb filament that would glow in a vacuum when electricity was passed.
- K. Rowling’s Harry Potter had lots of failures.
Not one, two, or five of the 12 major publications rejected the Harry Potter script. She was shattered, but not defeated. She kept approaching other publications, and her efforts bore fruit. A small publishing house accepted to publish the book, and only 1000 copies were published.
- Michael Jordan succeeded after his constant failure to win.
Basketball legend Michael Jordan once famously said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
How is the CIO’s role changing, and why will he replace the CEO?
The CIO role changed drastically within the last 2 years; the strategic role goes beyond IT functions. Today, CIOs are not only responsible for technology implementation; they are playing multiple roles in every organization. I hope you all agree that IT has evolved to become more business-centric and consumer-facing, with all the CIOs working very closely with the CEO for the desired output.
David Gledhill, CIO and group head of technology and operations for DBS Bank, a global bank based in Singapore, says “Business equals technology.” “My job is not just providing information technology but delivering on business outcomes and customer satisfaction.” Why am I saying this? This shows the mindset of CIOs in today’s world, and this applies to all of us, not just David Gledhill.
As per a recent Forbes Insights survey of 652 CIOs across the globe, 49% of today’s CIOs expect to become CEOs by 2025. 59% expect to hold a seat on their company’s board of directors. 50% of CIOs also expect to head a profit center by 2025.
Let me tell you how IT is moving from a cost center to a profit center. Earlier, cost savings were the number-one driver of IT innovation, but things are changing very rapidly. Across industries, today’s CIOs are focusing more on revenue-generating opportunities, as technology is increasingly viewed as a key driver of business, which creates an opportunity for CIOs to become CEOs. The impact of new-age data-driven technology on business transformation and transforming your IT from a cost center to a profit center.
Indian firm Angel Broking appointed Silicon Valley techie Narayan Gangadhar as its new CEO on April 22, 2021. ViaPlus, a global mobility company in Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), announces the appointment of Shreenivas Prabhakararao as CEO of the company’s India operations. He was a senior technology leader with over 20 years of international experience in the IT and financial services industries. Adding a few more examples: Stephen Gillett, who was CIO of Starbucks and is now CEO of Chronicle, and Philip Clarke, who was promoted from CIO to CEO of Tesco PLC. So there are a number of examples in India and outside of India that have already started. This shows that across the world, organizations prefer people with a technology background to the CEO role.
How is technology impacting you, and how do you see the next 2 to 3 years?
Companies like Amazon, Google, eBay, Facebook, Uber, and Airbnb are rooted in data and analytics, AI, and ML and have leveraged new data-driven business models to disrupt and transform traditional industries such as retail, media, and travel. For innovative firms such as these, data brings speed, agility, and the ability to fail fast, learn from experience, and execute smarter.
**By 2024, more than 50 percent of user interactions will be augmented by AI-driven speech, written word, or computer vision algorithms.
** By 2024, 5G will deliver network speeds that are approximately ten times faster than the current speeds on 4G LTE networks. By 2025, 50 billion devices will be connected to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
** The global metaverse revenue opportunity could approach $800 billion in 2024, up from about $500 billion in 2020.
*** The low-code development platform market size is projected to reach USD 148.5 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 27.8%. ***
How will the “Fail Fast approach” help achieve a better customer experience?
The “Harvard Business Review (HBR) research shows that nearly 9 out of 10 customers say they’ve left a company, switching due to poor customer experience (CX)”.
Success doesn’t happen overnight. Building a successful product requires continuous improvement based on customer feedback. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said, “The most important thing is to focus on the customer. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better, which will help to achieve customer experience (CX).” It is a journey and a continuous effort.
“Keep in mind that people buy experiences and not only the product.” You will retain your customers only when you provide a better customer experience with the help of the latest technology and digital transformation.
Now I will tell you what happens if you do not improve the customer experience (Cx). Kodak, a technology company that dominated the photographic film market during the 20th century, was not able to meet customer expectations due to a lack of digital transformation.
Mobile companies like Nokia and Motorola were the global leaders of their time, but they failed to meet customer expectations due to a lack of technological innovation.
In 2005, Yahoo was one of the leading players in the online advertising market. But it undervalued the importance of searching.
BlackBerry, a line of smartphones and tablets, was successful in 1998. They changed the game in the mobile industry by offering a device with an arched keyboard. But eventually, they lost their market position because they failed to innovate and keep up with the competition.
Here are companies that implemented a Fail Fast Approach, met customer expectations, and developed their business model.
Netflix is an example of a company disrupting an entire industry with an amazing customer experience.
Ikea’s novel idea of self-assembling furniture, a cleverly planned layout, and a digitized supply chain helped them solve the worst furniture challenges and deliver an excellent customer experience.
Uber, Amazon, and Apple were able to deliver the best customer experience with the help of the latest technology and continuously innovate with the Fail Fast approach, which alternately took their businesses to the next level and retained customers.
The key takeaway is If you do not fail fast, you will not be able to succeed and deliver the best customer experience. The best product is not an overnight job; it is a continuous effort to build the best product, service, or platform with the help of new technology, innovation, and digital transformation. This applies to organizations or individuals looking to launch a new start-up business, product, or service. Now, you know, the choice is yours whether you want to follow Uber, Google, Amazon, and Netflix, or Kotak, Nokia, Blackberry, and Yahoo.
Let me tell you why EX is very much required for CX. I will share my personal experience when I started to change our employees’ mindset towards customer experience (CX). The first thing we did with the help of the branding team was fix various customer experience pictures on the wall and entry where employees work.
The other thing we created was a specific award category for customer experience (CX) with award cash vouchers and certificates. Finally, we provided various pieces of training and raised awareness among employees about “why customer experience is the key to success.” It is not easy to change culture and people’s mindsets; it is a continuous journey. There are multiple steps we need to take to change our culture and employee mindset, which is very important.
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