One in five companies are doing three major things differently from their peers. And, a few select chief supply chain officers and chief operating officers are driving the growth agenda, according to a study released by Accenture, New York.

Leaders build, not just buy in

Most supply chain and operations executives buy into the concept of a digital enterprise, whereas leaders help build one, using digital innovation to power business growth.

Investing for supply chain and operations intelligence. But, they don’t invest in digital for digital’s sake. Instead, they are infusing intelligence throughout their supply chain and operating model to enable a composite picture of customers. Using this picture, their teams build hyper-relevant products and services tailored for individual customers.

Creating the new workforce. These leaders recognize that their human workforce has a new co-worker—intelligent machines. And, they invest in upskilling and reskilling, freeing their human workers to do what they do best—create, innovate and problem solve.

Avoiding one-off technology solutions. Leaders are investing in technologies in concert toward specific outcomes and capabilities, not one-off point solutions. They wrap these capabilities into platforms that fuel customer relevance.

As a result, leaders are exceeding their expected return on investment when scaling digital innovations.

Leaders exceed their own expectations

Leaders are exceeding their expected return on investment when scaling digital innovation while Laggards fall short.

In 2015-2018, supply chain leaders scaled digitally enabled solutions at a rate surpassing the sales function, despite its reputation for being a digital pioneer.

Leaders make customer experience a team sport

Leading chief operating officers and chief supply chain officers are reaching out to their C-suite counterparts to formalize collaboration with digital platforms that unite multiple teams to head toward customer centricity.

Customer centricity is an intricate way to describe companies putting customers at the heart of everything they do. At today’s leading companies, no one function owns the customer. Rather, the C-suite collaborates to get it right with high-value customers. No siloes allowed.

Leaders play well with others, and the customer wins

Leaders are all about partnering in an ecosystem. While only 64% of Laggards pursue becoming ecosystem orchestrators, almost 78% of leaders do. Leaders are also embracing open and co-innovation more than other companies.

The Laggards might partner, but it’s traditionally with suppliers or a few independent experts.

Leaders have widened the net, inviting technology partners, universities, innovation incubators—even competitors—to their search for growth.