Most organizations are not realizing enough bottom-line value from digital innovations.
An organization realizes bottom-line value from a digital innovation when the initiative team developing the innovation scales it up to an end-user population. Until an initiative team gets its innovation beyond the minimum viable product (MVP) stage, the innovation is just a promising idea that at best is deemed valuable by a small subset of end-users.
An initiative team only starts realizing bottom-line value from its innovation when a significant number of end-users can use it. When the initiative reaches the target value for its innovation, the organization considers the innovation to be scaled. An initiative team faces an array of challenges in getting its innovation to the scale-up stage of development. In many organizations, just a handful of initiatives succeed at navigating such challenges to scale their innovations. But in some organizations, hundreds of initiatives get to the point of scaling their innovation and beyond. These organizations build shared resources and serve them efficiently for use across initiatives, thereby reducing the costs and risks to initiatives of scaling innovations independently. We describe this capability as scaling at scale, which we define as enabling multiple digital innovation initiatives to realize bottom-line value from their innovation by leveraging shared resources.
In this briefing, we focus on a striking example of scaling at scale: executives at Spanish global multi-energy company Repsol S.A. developed an organizational capability that has enabled the company to cultivate a portfolio of over 450 digital innovation initiatives and helped more than seventy percent of initiatives to scale their innovation. As a result, over the course of five years, Repsol realized €800 million in cash flow from operations[foot]At Repsol, cash flow from operations represents incremental CFFO (Cash Flow From Operating Activities) + CapEx savings; CFFO consists of Income before tax + Adjustments to income + Changes in working capital + Other cash flows from operating activities. Repsol achieved the objective it described in its strategic plan to realize €800 million in cash flow from operations between 2018 and 2022; see “Strategic Plan 2021–2025,” Repsol S.A. presentation, page 59, on the Repsol S.A. website, November 26, 2020, https://www.repsol.com/content/dam/repsol-corporate/en_gb/conocenos/2025-strategy/II26112020_presentation_on_the_strategic_plan_2021_2025.pdf, accessed November 30, 2022.[/foot] via digital innovations.[foot]In 2021 and 2022, the authors conducted and transcribed interviews with twelve Repsol executives spanning a variety of responsibilities; collected public records and internal documents and data; and coded and analyzed all the data. They are developing a full MIT CISR case study on Repsol based on their findings.[/foot]