3 Successful Change Management Examples in the Digital Age

Studying successful change management examples is one of the best ways to learn what’s possible when change management is done right.

Examples of successful change can also teach us what works, what doesn’t, and how we should adapt to today’s fast-paced economy. 

Below, we’ll examine some recent examples of successful organizational change by some of the largest corporations in the world.

Successful Change Management Examples: The Digital Edition

Large corporations are large because they are successful and good at what they do – they can therefore serve as excellent study material for those who want to learn from the best.

Let’s look at a few examples of big companies that have successfully implemented change in today’s digital economy:

Starbucks Fuses the Physical with the Digital

Starbucks is a global coffee chain, but they have proactively and aggressively kept up with today’s changing digital landscape. 

Here are a few examples of the changes they have made over the past several years:

  • Using Microsoft Azure and a type of machine learning technology called reinforcement learning, customers using the Starbucks app receive customized order recommendations. These recommendations incorporate a range of data, including the weather, the time of day, the store inventory, the customer’s previous orders, and more.
  • Using IoT, Starbucks carefully tracks the performance of their equipment. Each espresso machine, for instance, analyzes data such as the water quality, the coffee temperature, and the type of beans. One way they are using that information is to create recipes that can be sent instantly to machines in all their stores.
  • Blockchain technology allows Starbucks to carefully follow their coffee’s journey from its source directly to their customer’s cup. They track information such as where coffee was grown, where and when it was roasted, and more – this, then, is relayed to the customer via the Starbucks app

One of the most important takeaways from Starbucks’ digital transformation efforts is their focus on the customer and fusing the digital and physical experience.

All of the efforts listed above, for instance, are designed to improve the customer experience.

In today’s business landscape, that experience has become paramount and since customer needs are changing rapidly, it is important to prioritize customer needs when engaging in business transformation efforts.

Microsoft Proves that Culture Can Drive Change

Microsoft is a technology company, but its recent cultural shift highlights an important point: in today’s era, culture is as important as technology.

Satya Nadella, according to some, has been the change leader behind this move. 

Thanks to his efforts, Microsoft has shifted its attitude towards its customers. Rather than compelling users to use Windows, Nadella’s strategy was to give customers what they want. 

This strategy sounds simple and most businesses would like to think that their culture puts customers first.

However, since Nadella came on board, Microsoft stock has skyrocketed and its products have become far more successful.

Many argue that his new culture is the reason for this growth, since:

  • Culture attracts top talent
  • A customer-centric culture delivers better products and services
  • When the workforce, the workplace, and the culture are aligned, employees deliver better customer service
  • Companies are more likely to be successful when workers are more engaged

Nadella himself said that “renewing our company’s culture would be my highest priority,” and this strategy has clearly proven successful.

By replacing bureaucracy and infighting with a growth mindset, he has demonstrated the central role that organizational culture plays in business performance – and that culture can be the key factor that fuels transformation.

McDonald’s Turns Digital, Inside and Out

Like Starbucks, McDonald’s has recognized the value of using technology to improve the customer experience.

Here are a few examples of how they are using digital innovation to transform their business:

  • McDonald’s plans to customize the drive-thru experience based on factors such as weather, time of day, traffic conditions, and the menu items the customer is currently ordering
  • They plan to use voice technology at drive-thrus to take orders
  • Not only has McDonald’s hired teams of data scientists and engineers to back its digital change initiatives, it has acquired several multi-million dollar companies to exploit their technology and research

All of these efforts are part of the company’s new “Velocity Growth” plan that was rolled out in 2017. 

The CEO of McDonald’s, Steve Easterbrook, pointed out that “the pace of change inside McDonald’s was being eclipsed by the pace of change outside our business.”

Since the plan’s inception, it has shown promising results – in the four years leading up to 2020, for instance, McDonald’s digital orders increased by 23%. 

The company has also continued to expand its digital change efforts by, for instance, hiring a digital customer engagement team.Though 2020 was naturally a challenging year for the company, they plan to accelerate change in the years ahead and boost resilience by focusing on areas such as “drive-thru, delivery, and growing  our digital presence,” as CEO Chris Kempczinski put it.

Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.