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Four digital transformation
thought leaders from around the globe
give their
perspectives on what is needed
to
achieve successful digital change.

Digitization is
the next wave
of change
that requires alignment of business and
IT strategy.

Organizations are feeling the urgency to transform and many are taking initial steps.

How can you accelerate your digital transformation and beat your competition to become the disruptor?

Tamara, Dion, Ronald and Dez share their expert insights and observations.

  • Where to focus first
  • Who to tap within your organization
  • What metrics to use to measure success
  • How to ensure a smooth transition

Tamara McCleary
CEO & Brand Ambassador,
Thulium

Dion Hinchcliffe
Chief Strategy Officer,
7Summits

Ronald van Loon
Top 10 Big Data, Data Science,
IoT, BI Influencer

Dez Blanchfield
Chief Data Scientist,
The Bloor Group

Why is digital
transformation important for
my business?

Tamara McCleary: It's not a fad, but a fact. There's a new game in town, and it's a tough pill for many leaders to swallow, but there's no turning back. Digital technologies have dramatically altered the business landscape. Digital transformation is not a choice, it's a matter of business survival. You need to disrupt your company by revitalizing your outmoded business model if you want to avoid being eaten up and discarded by a more agile, nimble company with a seat at the digital table. With the advent and growing commercial use and integration of technologies such as mobile, cloud, the IoT, Big Data analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, businesses that don't adhere to a philosophy of digital transformation will not only be left behind, but will cease to exist in an evolutionary world. #RIP

Digital transformation is not just about transforming your business to survive in the future; it also brings opportunities for those organizations that implement the new technologies. As you look across the business world, notice that the businesses that stand out today are those that are operating on the digital forefront.

Dion Hinchcliffe: The primary value of digital transformation is that it keeps companies relevant in the face of exponentially growing technological change. This fast change is rapidly altering customers' behavior and expectations. One key reason that digital transformation has become an imperative across the business world is that more and more CEOs are recognizing that their industry will be substantially or unrecognizably transformed by digital in the next few years. In particular, as digital customer experience has become a major competitive differentiator, it has become one of the most vital areas to transform. That's because leaders in customer experience greatly outperform the market as a whole. In the end, digital transformation must be a sustainable process that carries the organization into and through the digital future.

“Digital technologies have dramatically altered the business landscape.
Digital transformation is not a choice, it's a matter of business survival.”

Tamara McCleary
CEO & Brand Ambassador, Thulium

How can we ensure the
optimal engagement level
to achieve our goals?

Ronald van Loon: The key to achieving your goals and engaging the customer is to create a better customer experience compared to your competition. Businesses today must be far more relevant to their customers.

Agility in business is imperative to bring about the initial customer relationship and then to retain the customer. To achieve these goals, you need to adapt the business to every requirement that will improve the customer experience, and you need to allow your team to provide the best possible service at every relevant touchpoint in the customer journey.

For this to happen, you need customer journey data, from initial contact through data about products and their usage. And you need a valuable data-driven culture to help customers find what they need from you and your business.

C-Suite commitment is imperative for transforming the company culture to a customer-centric, data-driven culture, supported by multidisciplinary teams that include sales, marketing, services, data and analytics, customer service, and legal.

Dez Blanchfield: As with any disruptive change initiatives, a successful digital transformation requires the full engagement of the business as a whole, as well as of the teams and individuals who aim to effect the change. Your greatest champions within your organization are your staff.

Successful digital transformation brings about change across the entire organization, so it is critical that you engage the staff from top down, from boardroom to C-suite and management, and also from bottom up by involving your entire staff. They are your foot soldiers who, on a day-to-day basis, will adapt to, endorse, and support your digital transformation initiatives.

“C-Suite commitment is imperative for transforming the company culture to a customer-centric, data-driven culture, supported by multidisciplinary teams ...”

Ronald van Loon
Top 10 Big Data, Data Science,
IoT, BI Influencer

How can we
define and
achieve
specific value
through
this process?

Tamara McCleary: Digital transformation is not about applying digital technology as a bolt-on. Digital transformation is about changing the way a company uses technology to drive revenue, increase operational efficiency, and deliver a better customer experience. Recognizing the value of the transformation while it is in process isn’t always easy. Most organizations are focused on the return from their digital investment. However, attempting to define value in the midst of transforming an organization is not straightforward.

The only way to capture the highest value in the process of digital transformation is to ask the right questions. Don’t look to digital, Big Data, or analytics to solve your organization’s biggest problems by osmosis. It’s critical to clearly identify your desired business outcomes. What is the company’s digital mission and vision? Is it in sync with an innovative approach in the future-forecast digital landscape? When making a digital investment, consider your key performance indicators. Evaluate whether you experience significant differences in performance during and after the transformation process. Has the business considered new market opportunities?

How does the business define value in optimizing the customer experience or organizational effectiveness? The business investment in a digital reinvention strategy must be customer-centric but the company must also consider operational efficiency and the role of its staff in driving transformational success.

Dion Hinchcliffe: The value of digital transformation must ultimately be measured in impact to the business. A transformation process that is “open loop,” meaning that hard data on results are not fed back into the improvement process steadily over time, can’t readily be guided toward a successful outcome. A good place to start is to identify the key business value goals of your digital transformation program. These might be growth or higher customer satisfaction. Then institute a measurement process that is well connected back to the ongoing development efforts for individual digital solutions. This process will ensure that your business value goals are achieved or will indicate that a different path must be taken. Many organizations use pilots to find the way forward, then expand them once they find the right path.

“Digital transformation is about changing the way a company uses
technology to drive revenue, increase operational efficiency, and deliver
a better customer experience.”

Tamara McCleary
CEO & Brand Ambassador, Thulium

Why does digital
transformation require
orchestration?

Tamara McCleary: The concept of orchestration is focused on delivering organizational change through time-based business strategies. In today’s digital world, time is a critical component in any business decision. Technology is quickly building upward on an ever-changing exponential curve. To outpace your competition in today’s world you need to be able to analyze your data in real time and make decisions as fast as your data becomes available.

To achieve the level of agility required for digital transformation, a company must also achieve healthy collaboration between marketing and IT. These two departments are the critical backbone for successfully implementing and integrating the change necessary to future-proof the business. But while collaboration between marketing and technology is key, successful orchestration also means keeping top-of-mind the importance of people, process, culture, and technology when implementing a successful digital strategy. How do you engage your customers through the entire lifecycle? Think customer first, at every touchpoint, and position your digital investment to do the heavy lifting. During your organization’s digital transition, remember the power of engaging your employees. There’s nothing more potent for shifting culture and increasing employee engagement than harnessing the power of the battle cry for digital transformation and unifying your teams around the organization’s bigger goal.

As your organization evolves to keep pace with shifting consumer expectations, you face the ultimate challenge of keeping the core business while reaching for greater innovation and opportunity. Digital transformation requires orchestration like that of a pit crew at an IndyCar race. It’s a race against time, but also a call for high-level organizational performance and risk mitigation.

Dion Hinchcliffe: The overall scale of digital transformation involves a large part of the organization over time, which means that orchestration is required to coordinate and integrate different elements of change. As a result, digital transformation – which should shift the organization as a whole with its stakeholder experiences, technology foundation, and even its business models – is too extensive to be treated as a single project, or even as a program-level portfolio of centralized change efforts. A better model seems to be a more decentralized but coordinated transformation activity across the business. An orchestration process provides this coordination and drives results by improving consistency, planning, cross-silo integration, and technology standardization where it makes sense. Capable, rapid orchestration is required for an organization to fully and sustainably enter the modern digital economy.

“Capable, rapid orchestration is required for an organization to fully
and sustainably enter the modern digital economy.”

Dion Hinchcliffe
Chief Strategy Officer, 7Summits

How can we find
opportunities to
accelerate time to value?

Ronald van Loon: Because we have quick access to so much information from social media, market research, and many other sources, our data can lose its value over time. Accelerating the time to value therefore means accelerating the time in which we use the data.

Companies increasingly believe that Big Data is going to dramatically change the way they do business and will revolutionize business operations as surely as the Internet has done. It is clear that Big Data projects must be used by small companies as well as large ones if they are to achieve and maintain a competitive edge in business today. Analytics is a dynamic force. The time to value must be improved so that data is readily available and useful to companies. Even though data value does erode over time, it does not completely lose value as it offers historical insights. Keeping that in mind, and providing for faster cleansing, preparation, and access to the incoming data, are the most important parts of improving the time to value of Big Data. This may require a migration to a new type of solution for data management and business intelligence that can help ensure that your data is gathered, accessed, cleansed, and used in as short a time as possible.

Dez Blanchfield: All too often, organizations make assumptions about how digital transformation may benefit them, when all the while their own staff and teams have in-depth, hands-on knowledge of the types of innovation that would be most beneficial to the organization. Some of the most successful digital transformations I’ve witnessed were based on internal surveys to gain staff insights into the best opportunities to gain rapid time-to-value gains. It is also important to apply the KISS (“keep it simple, stupid”) principle.

Small, nimble, and agile disruption and innovation through digital transformation in key areas of an organization can provide significant quick wins and near-instant return on investment. Sometimes it’s better not to overthink and to use the “fail and fail fast” model that has served so many of the leading disruptors that are overtaking their competitors, often in old markets and old industries.

“Some of the most successful digital transformations I’ve witnessed were based on internal surveys to gain staff insights into the best opportunities to gain rapid time-to-value gains.”

Dez Blanchfield
Chief Data Scientist,
The Bloor Group

How can we
ensure a smooth
transition,
minimal
disruption,
and complete
business
continuity?

Ronald van Loon: Transitioning your company to a data-driven culture depends entirely on people – and that means all the people who are a part of your company. Executive and C-level commitment is imperative, and it must be established well before the actual change. Preplanning and changing the culture long before the business is disrupted is the best place to start.

A solid data management foundation must be laid before the actual change begins. For a smooth transition, unique and different ways of working – such as supporting multidisciplinary teams and adopting a more customer-centric and data-driven approach – will be necessary. Also, migration to new ways of collecting and processing data, as well as new ways of managing the data, will likely be required. Greater teamwork will also be necessary to implement the changes and to make good use of the data.

Dez Blanchfield: In the rush to effect digital transformation, organizations have often forgotten the basics that underpin program delivery and project management. The fundamental challenges of delivering successful project outcomes don’t change just because we add the term digital to them.

Proven methodologies such as PRINCE2 and PMBOK are often thrown out in favor of new Agile management methodologies without proper consideration for an organization’s capacity to deliver successful outcomes for any given project. To ensure a smooth and seamless transition from old to new, be sure to leverage existing project managers and program directors. Give them the opportunity to be agile and nimble, and let them share their experience of delivering successful outcomes for the business before you discounting their value to digital projects.

It’s also OK to add people with Agile skills and experience to existing project teams, and to have folk on hand who can undertake shorter more nimble projects. But make sure these people work with existing proven project teams and remember that your long-running project office can always learn and adapt to new ways. Also aim to start small, gain experience, and then to deliver real value and quick wins over time as your organization’s capability grows. Ensure that you give yourself time to complete the transition without disrupting what is already keeping you in business. If possible, avoid trying to walk a tightrope without a safety net by running old and new in parallel for a time to learn what’s working and what’s not.

“Transitioning your company to a data-driven culture depends entirely on
people – and that means all the people who are a part of your company.”

Ronald van Loon
Top 10 Big Data, Data Science, IoT, BI Influencer

Tamara McCleary CEO & Brand Ambassador,
Thulium

As an internationally recognized expert on technology, branding, and social influence, Tamara is ranked a global Top 5 CMO and Top 15 CIO Influencer. In constant demand as a thought leader and speaker at conferences around the world for such brands as Verizon, IBM and SYNNEX, Tamara was recently named the Number 1 Woman Influencer in Martech and consistently ranks as a top influencer in the fields of AI, Robotics, IoT, Blockchain, Cloud, Big Data and Digital Transformation.

Dion Hinchcliffe Chief Strategy Officer,
7Summits

Dion is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and strategist based in Washington, DC. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential figures in digital engagement, transformation, and enterprise IT. Recently, Robert Half Inc. identified Dion as one of the top 20 people globally that technology leaders mention most.

Ronald van Loon Top 10 Big Data, Data Science,
IoT, BI Influencer

Ronald is an expert and thought leader in the field of digital transformation, recognized for his work by publications and organizations such as Onalytica, Dataconomy, and Klout. He also writes for a number of leading Big Data Websites, including The Guardian, Datafloq, and Data Science Central, and regularly speaks at top events and conferences, addressing topics like IoT, data science, and Big Data.

Dez Blanchfield Chief Data Scientist,
The Bloor Group

Dez is a strategic leader in business and digital transformation, with 30 years’ experience in the information technology and telecommunications industry. Working with organizations across a range of key industry sectors, his focus is on developing strategy and implementing business initiatives to drive outcomes by leveraging cloud computing, Internet of Things, high performance computing, digital disruption, and digital transformation technologies.

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