Digital at McKinsey: The Next Generation

Not only are top executives barely increasing their use of computer output, but they’re also lagging behind in getting the right kind of output. . .To utilize computers more effectively, chief executives should address themselves to three basic issues: identifying those problems where the computer has greatest leverage on profits; planning and evaluating systems that will permit this leverage to be used; and implementing and directing the systems for timetable results.

The year was 1970, and McKinsey senior partner David Hertz was addressing an audience of Japanese business leaders, as reported by Computerworld. While the language is dated, the message still rings true: Most companies are scratching the surface when it comes to leveraging digital technology, and the buck stops with the CEO.

The debut this week of the Digital McKinsey brand is just the latest stage of a decades-long mission to help our clients create real value with digital technology. Digital McKinsey brings together 2,100 experts from across our global firm—including more than 800 developers, designers, IT architects, data engineers, agile coaches, and advanced analytics experts in our Digital Labs—supported by an ecosystem of 300-plus alliances and partnerships.

“The new name and visual identity are meant to help us communicate that we’re working with clients in new ways,” says Peter Dahlstrom, a senior partner in our London office who led the branding effort. “Today we’re not only advising but also building, operating, and transferring capabilities to help clients create value by reinventing the core of their businesses together.”

What does this mean in practice? Helping a financial services client conceive, plan, and launch the country’s first digital-only bank. Helping one of the world’s biggest mobile operators transform customer experience with an award-winning and massively popular app. Building a digital center of excellence for a major travel company, with McKinsey people backfilling critical gaps in design, technology, and product management while we helped recruit permanent hires.

What all these projects have in common is that the McKinsey team on the ground combined industry and functional experts with specialists who cut their teeth at ‘digital native’ companies such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Tencent. It’s a potent combination—and we’re not the only ones saying so. IDC and ALM Intelligence (formerly Kennedy Research) recently recognized us as leaders in digital strategy and innovation, with ALM’s analysts noting that we’ve got some of the deepest execution capabilities when it comes to designing, prototyping, developing, and launching digital products and services.

We’re also bringing hardcore technology to the table. The earlier generation of McKinsey technologists such as David Hertz, a mathematics Phd and operations research pioneer would surely have celebrated our acquisition of QuantumBlack, a trailblazer in using Big Data and machine learning to drive performance improvements in business operations.

“The majority of companies will need to transform their digital operations in the next three to five years,” says Alan Lau, a Hong Kong-based senior partner co-leading Digital McKinsey in Asia with senior partner Gregor Theisen. “We’ve found that three out of four CEOs want to champion digital and are ready to move forward.”

Sound familiar? To be sure, the digital paradigm has been through multiple shifts since the 1970s heyday of mainframes and FORTRAN. What never gets old is the need for a digitally-savvy partner who can help senior executives drive change in the core of the business.

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