Disrupt, or Else: Top 5 Digital Transformation Considerations

Alan Walsh
By Alan Walsh

Vice President, Global Support Center April 18, 2017

Hey! You! Yes, You! Did you know there is an Industrial Revolution going on? Maybe if I tweet, Snapchat, Instagram or Whatsapp it (#industrialrevolution @industrialrevolution) I might get your attention. Have you taken notice of how much your daily life is changing around you?

I’m drawn to two recent articles on Digital Transformation that touch on a sensitive but necessary topic when it comes to your digital roadmap:

  1. Top Reason Digital Transformations Fail by Barry Libert for Forbes
  2. Digital Predator or Digital Prey : an interview with Forrester’s Terry Fenwick

They clearly focus on the digital transformation but the message is loud and clear: disrupt…or else.Disruption

Both articles also drive a common theme that this attitude to disruption must emanate from
the very top. According to Fenwick, “only 21 percent of
executives believe CEOs have demonstrated a clear vision for digitizing their businesses, and just 21 percent say they have the right people in their company to create a digital business strategy”.

That’s a scary thought when you consider that 79 percent of CEOs are not on the journey, or don’t have a vision to begin the journey. Make no mistake: the digital train has already left the station. Are you on onboard? Let’s discuss this part a little, and identify the key themes for consideration:

  • Digital isn’t an “add-on”. It’s not a website, Twitter handle or new app. It’s a fundamental change in traditional siloed businesses evolving to become truly agile, flat and much more accessible
  • It MUST be a top-down leadership approach. It’s not something delegated to a person on the team or someone in the business. It is a cultural change that needs to manifest from the top to the bottom of the team. If your CEO / leader doesn’t embrace digitization in every way, why should anyone else?
  • Dare to be different. Don’t be afraid to challenge conventional thinking or wisdom. I recently met with a major financial customer who made a cultural change in their internal banking app development: all future development would be internal cloud-based, and infrastructure would no longer be provided to respective business units. This is a HUGE statement for a global financial to make, but had already proven effective in changing traditional mindset.
  • Know what your customers want. As a sports fan, I am a regular consumer of online updates and reports. Recently, websites for several traditional newspapers around the world started demanding registration and a paid subscription to access their sports stories. I believe this model is outdated. As a consumer with so many available news portals, I’ll simply move to a different provider that does not demand my personal information and payment. Meanwhile, the news portal will lose a customer based on what they believe to be a positive change. On the flip side – more and more airlines are moving to free onboard wifi. Seems like a giveaway? Not if you consider longer term they may not have to invest in onboard entertainment, right?
  • Parallel approach. You will not switch over to a digital strategy overnight. A digital strategy needs to be planned and thoughtful. It will require large investment, a clear strategy, and probably an incubation period before ROI is realized. In the interim, businesses will need to continue to run. This is the single biggest challenge faced by “traditional” customers versus those “born in the cloud”, and why disruption is being seen at such large scale.

I think Forbes and Forrester captured the train of thought really well in their respective articles. Not having a digital strategy is a dangerous game to play right now. You’re inviting disruptive competition into your business. Remember, those “born in the cloud” will always do it cheaper.