James M. Connolly

Digital Transformation: Darwin Was Right

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kq4ym
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Re: They need to make it work first
kq4ym   1/14/2017 10:27:12 AM
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How true that we often want to see other transform, but not so much ourselves. That seems to be true of both the managerial type personality and other that are more followers. We want to see the boss change his administrative style and the boss want us to change our work style.

Lyndon_Henry
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Re: Maybe they need to decide what it is
Lyndon_Henry   12/21/2016 9:00:20 PM
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..

Ariella writes


Technology should always be a means to an end, but I do think that some people get carried away with tech for its own sake and so forget about business efficiency and user experience.


 

... Not to mention customer experience ...

 

magneticnorth0
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Re: Maybe they need to decide what it is
magneticnorth0   12/20/2016 9:54:05 PM
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@Lyndon_Henry: Great points regarding the definition. Joe's speculation about the term being a simple buzzword now seems highly likely given the quotes you've presented.

kq4ym
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Re: They need to make it work first
kq4ym   12/19/2016 10:18:38 PM
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I wonder if those companies who are seemingly moving slowly on the digital highway might be ripe to be picked off by more progressive companies who might swoop in and by the company at an undervalued price. Then, transform the firm, and sell or operate it at a higher ROI?

Ariella
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Re: Maybe they need to decide what it is
Ariella   12/19/2016 2:44:49 PM
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<This sorta suggests to me they don't actually have a clear definition. Plus, this got me thinking ... where is there a company that merely uses technology as an "end"? This conjures up an image of a company doing little more than having its execs and managers (and staff I presume) surrounding themselves with techy toys for the sake of having techy toys.>

@Lyndon_Henry Indeed, some companies might consider a digital transformation to consist of just putting all records in digital format, while others expect to apply analytics to their data and uses it for making their decisions. But there's no universal view. Technology should always be a means to an end, but I do think that some people get carried away with tech for its own sake and so forget about business efficiency and user experience.

 

 

Lyndon_Henry
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Maybe they need to decide what it is
Lyndon_Henry   12/5/2016 9:45:15 PM
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..

OK, the notion that only 50% of companies are cool with digital transformation got me to wondering what "digital transformation" actually means. After all, carried to its ultimate conclusion, it could mean turning the entire company operation, including management, over to robots.

So I went to the Forbes article reporting the survey. I haven't read the entire article, but the authors do take a shot at a definition in the early pages:

What is digital transformation? The definition varies depending on the company, its leaders, and industry. However, there are areas where executives agree. Digital transformation uses technology as a means, not an end.



 So the definition "varies"? This sorta suggests to me they don't actually have a clear definition. Plus, this got me thinking ... where is there a company that merely uses technology as an "end"? This conjures up an image of a company doing little more than having its execs and managers (and staff I presume) surrounding themselves with techy toys for the sake of having techy toys.

As an example "among the leaders in digital transformation" the report cites the French company, Orange. 

Its 2020 strategy calls for digital interactions with all customers, both business-to-businss (B2B) as well as more than 250 million individual customers. The company's objective is for over half of customer interactions across Europe to be through digital channels by 2018.



 And this is a crucial goal because why? They don't want direct voice interactions, or direct human interactions, but digital interactions are the goal for their own sake? Maybe a compelling explanation is there, but this sorta sounds like pursuing technology as an end rather than a means ...

What led me into this confusion was the fact that I really cannot think of a single business I have encountered anywhere that has not undergone a "digital transformation" of some degree. Even self-employed individuals use PCs, laptops, tablets, smartphones in their business transactions. Every business I've encountered, large and small, uses PCs and other digital technology.

So the "digital transformation" implies what? The transformative step is to ...

 

Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli   12/5/2016 12:05:01 PM
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I suspect that part of what may be holding some of that other 50% back is the very term, "Digital Transformation."

It's really nothing new--just an umbrella term for IoT, cloud, virtualization, Big Data analytics, and related tech.  Insofar as that, it's an uber-buzzterm.  And I suspect that we've reached a point where some cynical execs' BS-o-meters have become calibrated a little too sensitively over the past couple of years of tech buzz.

James Connolly
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Re: They need to make it work first
James Connolly   12/5/2016 11:25:39 AM
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@SaneIT. I've found over the years that people are fine with change, as long as it's other people who are changing. And, we want to do things just the way we always did but maybe be able to do it faster and with new capabilities.

Right, that thought process permeates every role and every level of an organization.

One other observation is that leadership (corporate, departmental, and IT) often is to blame. They demand change, including new ways to do things, but they don't really take the time to learn how and why things are currently done the way they are.

 

SaneIT
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Re: They need to make it work first
SaneIT   12/5/2016 8:34:40 AM
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Your assessment of the half hearted ERP/CRM implementations fall into your original assessment of Digital Transformation...

"The old mindset has cost a lot of companies their corporate lives as competitors responded faster than they did, and startups arose unencumbered by old structures and thought processes."

It's change and getting some people/teams/companies to enact real change is incredibly difficult.  Startups that don't have processes carved in stone make the shift much more easily than the 20-30 year old company that has to fight with individuals who feel like the gatekeepers of all thing related to their department.  In most instances when you ask what they need to be more productive they want more people doing things the way they do them, not a new way to work.  This mindset permeates all levels of a company and doesn't change without intentionality. 

 

James Connolly
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Re: They need to make it work first
James Connolly   12/1/2016 9:11:53 AM
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@MagneticNorth. Good point about ERP/CRM failure rates. True, those companies committed to steps into the digital world, but they also did it half-heartedly, and the suppliers weren't all that helpful (preferring to focus on pushing more app modules onto unsuspecting buyers than selling them just what they needed to get on track). I say companies often were half-hearted because I recall doing interviews with a lot of them, and the common thread was that they wanted to keep all of the same business processes and definitions that they'd used for many years rather than adopt what someone like Oracle, PeopleSoft or SAP had built in (even though those vendor processes might not have been optimal). As a result they had three or four year implementation timeframes (and escalating costs) because of the required customization, and training. Plus, that training was marked by end-user griping as much as anything of value.

I think that the key to an effective digitial transformation is for management to accept and advocate for a rethinking of business processes, and sometimes even the purpose of the business. We're starting to see that with some smart retailers who understand the omnichannel approach and some manufacturers -- even those with their roots in the 19th century -- that see that their knowledge and the data that they can provide to customers is as valuable as the equipment they sell.

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