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The Bionic Model

Once a futuristic vision, the bionic company is here. Leading companies in multiple industries are combining the strengths of humans and technology to create superhuman—bionic—capabilities. Here we explore what the bionic company looks like, how it operates, and how traditional companies can think about transforming themselves into superhuman enterprises.

What Is a Bionic Company?

To achieve its full potential, technology must be combined with the flexibility, adaptability, and comprehensive experience of humans.

Drivers of a Bionic Company

The superhuman ability of bionic companies can be seen in their outperformance. Most bionic leaders today are digital natives, to which bionic processes come naturally. But more bionic companies can also be found in traditional industries. Incumbents are mounting successful and far-reaching digital transformations to reposition their competitive capabilities for a bionic future.

Many of the elements of bionic companies are well known: artificial intelligence, digital talent, and platform-based software and services, for example. But the formula for putting them all together is neither immediately evident nor easy to implement. We believe our approach to building bionic companies was an important factor in BCG’s being named a digital transformation services leader in the industry by Forrester Research. Companies that understand how to lead a bionic transformation can make rapid process and create substantial near-term value.

Attributes of a Bionic Leader

To become a bionic leader, you must first understand what a bionic company does. Explore the interactive above or expand the lists below to discover the attributes of a bionic leader.

Several attributes distinguish bionic leaders. The first is a strong sense of purpose, which energizes and aligns the organization around what it is trying to achieve. The core competitive foundations of bionic leaders—such as value, differentiation, and advantage—are similar to those of traditional companies, but the strategies they use are digital first.
A bionic company organizes their human and technological capabilities around business outcomes—personalizing customer experiences, improving processes, and building new offers—and moves fast to achieve them. A truly bionic company often has 30 to 50 essential processes working in this fashion.
Bionic companies use the progress toward outcomes to build their human enablers: digital talent and a platform organization. Bionic companies need employees who have design and technical skills and who are flexible, adaptable, and able to learn. The importance of collaboration and creative and critical thinking is paramount. These companies also require a very different organization model than the traditional management pyramid. Layers of approval are replaced by small, autonomous teams that are built and empowered to make decisions quickly. They are supported by platforms designed for scale so that everyone has access to the same data, technology, and resources.
The bionic company puts a modular technology stack fueled by data at the heart of the new organization. Bionic companies use AI to drive mass pattern recognition, inform predictions, enable exponential learning, and unlock the ability to make better, faster decisions. AI-powered insights enable business teams to innovate products and design better processes, which drives competitive advantage and top-line growth.
The modular tech stack’s architecture is layered, which liberates data and supports new technologies. The stack is adaptable, so it can be refined and updated easily. It is built off of APIs and microservices that enable rapid assembly and reconfiguration without overhauling the entire underlying system.