Unleash Your Digital Business

In my last post I outlined the research we just finished on digital transformation. Today I'd like to highlight the key takeaways for CIOs.

CIOs are destined to play a pivotal leadership role in the transformation of business to a digital business. The nature of business is changing and, in turn, the technology investment priorities of the past must change. The report - Unleash Your Digital Business - describes the dynamic ecosystems of value that drive customer behaviors and transform the linear value chain into a dynamic network supported by open APIs. CIOs must partner with CMOs to drive the business transformation needed to become a digital business. To survive, your business will need to embrace digital customer experiences within ecosystems of value, and digital operational excellence to drive the agility and innovation required to survive and thrive in the age of the customer.

Digital Is More Than A Bolt-on Strategy

Bolt-on digital is like painting go-fast stripes on a car; it doesn’t change the underlying business. To become a digital business requires fundamental enterprise transformation; something CIOs are accustomed to leading and shaping. The partnership with the CMO must be extended to create operational excellence through digital technology, augmenting customer value with digital products and services and driving rapid innovation across the business.

Dynamic Ecosystems Of Value Drive The Ability To Win Serve and Retain Customers

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The Future Of Business Is Digital

Your company is likely to face an extinction event in the next 10 years. And while you may see it coming, you may not have enough time to save your company.

Business leaders don't think of digital as central to their business because in the past, it hasn't been. But now your customers, your products, your business operations, and your competitors are fundamentally digital. While 74% of business executives say their company has a digital strategy, only 15% believe that their company has the skills and capabilities to execute on that strategy (see figure). These are just some of the findings from our latest research (Forrester clients click here).

Forrester data on digital readiness

For the past few years, companies have been bolting “digital” onto their existing business like teens paint go-fast stripes onto their cars. “Look, we’re digital” is the message CEOs want to send to investors. But the piecemeal strategy of bolting digital channels or methods onto the business is no longer sufficient. Instead, you must think of your company as part of a dynamic ecosystem of value that connects digital resources inside and outside the company to create value for customers. To do this, you must fully harness digital technologies, both to deliver a superior customer experience and to drive the agility and operational efficiency you need to stay competitive.

Dynamic Ecosystems Of Value

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2014: Digital Reality Sets In

2014In my post at this time last year I wrote of the changes we could expect in 2013 around the shift toward digital business. And indeed we did see a significant move toward digital business in 2013 - a transition that’s still very much just beginning.

But 2014 will be different. 2014 is when digital reality begins to sink in for CEOs around the world. And if your CEO doesn't figure out digital business this year, I predict 2015 will be a very challenging year for your organization, no matter what business you are in.

The Retail Conundrum

A recent Wall Street Journal article highlights the challenge of retailers very well. Store footfall is declining as consumers' lives become more digital. We are seeing a steady shift toward shopping online and shopping less often. So how can today’s retailers survive? The simple answer is that many will not. Retail will undergo a seismic shift in the next 10 years. And since retail is a major employer, it's a shift that will impact us all.

Time drives behavior. Digital tools extend the workplace into our private lives, allowing greater productivity while also creating fewer opportunities for large chunks of time to “go shopping.” We are increasingly using digital technologies to optimize how we fill our days for work and pleasure:

•  Digital scheduling tools like Google Calendar help us plan our work and play time.

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On Pubs, Innovation & Office Space

Holiday season musings: One of the biggest differences between the US and Britain is the great British pub. And recently I’ve been wondering about the connection between the pub and innovation.
 
It seems to me that Britain produces a surprising amount of innovation per capita (no doubt someone can point me to some research on this). Why do so many great innovations come from this small island? 
 
Could it be that the great British pub has something to do with it? It’s clear that a great many innovations are nurtured and developed through the interactions between people. And the pub has always been place for social interaction. For me, one of the facets that distinguishes a great UK pub from an American bar is that it’s relatively easy to sit next to a complete stranger in a pub and strike up a deeply philosophical conversation about something of great import; in a bar, it’s almost impossible to strike up a conversation with anyone you don’t already know unless it’s related to the local sports team. 
 
Assuming my premise is correct that there is some causative effect between the traditional local pub and innovation, what will happen to innovation in Britain with the demise of the local pub. Will we see a reduction in great innovation from the UK?
 
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5 Steps to transform IT from Order-taker To Business Partner: Part 2

Way back in September, I promised a series of blogs addressing this subject. I had high hopes of delivering a post a week for five weeks on the topic. Needless to say . . . life interjected!

So here, a little later than planned, is the second post in the series.

Step 1 - Change where you work 

If I had a thousand bucks for each time I’ve heard someone in technology management say “IT and the business,” I’d have retired long ago. And it’s not just something we hear in technology circles either. The plain truth is technology professionals have been using isolationist language for decades. I say isolationist because any time we refer to "IT and the business” as if they were two different entities, we are creating an artificial divide. As a department of the business, IT is very much part of “the business.”
 
When technology leaders create this divide between the technology group and the rest of the business, it separates their actions from the purpose of the business. Technology professionals start to see themselves as some sort of technology service provider to the business. But the truth is that the technology team should be integral to delivering value to the customer. If “the business” wanted a technology service provider, the leadership team would outsource IT. Unfortunately, one consequence of managing IT like a vendor is that it becomes much easier for the leadership team to make that outsourcing decision.
 
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Dawn Of A New Digital Reality

FitbitWe’re at the dawn of a new industrial revolution. And just as the steam engine and the spinning jenny transformed the world in the first industrial revolution, the new technology of this new industrial revolution will transform our world as we know it.

The seeds of revolution are all around us: More compute power now resides in each of our pockets than in the supercomputers of the eighties; we are rapidly approaching a point where each person on the planet is interconnected through a web of digital channels; billions of devices are capable of instantly uploading data about the device and its environment as an the internet of things; highly automated manufacturing plants will soon intelligently assemble custom products; and instant video communications now take place regularly around the world. All of these changes are already here. 

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Technology + Philanthropy = A Masterclass In Technology Marketing At Dreamforce 2013

What Benioff and his team at Salesforce do better than every other tech company at a customer conference is make an emotional connection between the audience and the brand.

The opening 45 minutes of Dreamforce 2013, the annual gathering of Salesforce.com (SFDC) customers and industry influencers, focused less on the product and much more on how SFDC is helping transform the lives of those most in need of help. In many respects, this looked and felt more like the opening of a fundraising event than a software conference — I say "felt" because the message was designed to connect with feelings. The visuals and stories all help people connect to the Salesforce message at a deeply emotional level. The implication: By partnering with SFDC, you really do help change the world. This was a masterclass in marketing and leveraging corporate philanthropy
 
Too many companies are so focused on their own growth that they fail to connect to something that really matters in the world: making a difference in the lives of people less fortunate than ourselves. By reinforcing this connection for both customers and employees, Benioff successfully gives a deeper meaning to the hours employees will spend to do their job slightly better each day. It's no wonder that SFDC is one of the most admired companies and a top place to work.
 

Chief Digital Officer: Fad or Future?

Over the past nine months I've been interviewing chief digital officers and senior digital leaders across a variety of industries to gain insight into the emerging role of digital leadership. My colleague Martin Gill and I wanted to discover why firms hire chief digital officers and what they are responsible for — more importantly I was looking to discover what CEOs should be doing to set up their businesses for success in a digital world.

The initial findings from this research are published in "Chief Digital Officer: Fad or Future" (fee for non-clients).
 
One aspect of the research I'd like to highlight here is the need to think of digital as more than simply a bolt-on to your business. To create a digital business able to compete in the age of the customer, we need to think of building out a digital business ecosystem. I know what you're thinking — "not another ecosystem" — and yes, it's a very overused term, especially by consultants and analysts. But I simply can't think of a better term to describe the interconnected and codependent relationships needed in a fully digitized business (see diagram).
Firms need to develop a digital ecosystem
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Business Technology Strategy Template

Here’s a riddle: What is it that almost every organization believes it needs, many organizations have, and few organizations use? The answer is an IT strategy.

CEOs and CFOs task new CIOs and old CIOs alike with developing an IT strategy. But despite the millions of dollars, pounds, euros, and yen spent on creating IT strategy every year, few of these strategies will be put to effective use. The IT strategy is the foundation upon which CIOs communicate the value of IT across the enterprise. Despite this, or perhaps because of this, only 18% of organizations have IT teams that communicate the value of IT effectively.

And one of the most common questions I receive from clients since publishing the Business Technology Strategic Planning Playbook is "do you have a plan template we can use?" At last I can answer, "yes - here it is!"
 
What differentiates a good business technology strategy?
 
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5 Steps to transform IT from order-taker to business partner

Let's face it, IT often suffers from a bad reputation. And in many cases it's well deserved. Over the years many IT leaders attempted to change IT's reputation by empowering other departments to dictate what IT should be doing — and in the process they became order-takers. And the portfolio of projects from well-meaning business leaders mushroomed. To cope with the overwhelming demand, IT established rigorous process around governance, forming committees with the power to determine what IT works on. And almost inevitably, many of these committees are bogged down by politics — meaning IT is not always working on the right things — and at the same time slowing down the whole pace of change. No wonder then that many people across the business spectrum view their own IT group as a slow, unresponsive impediment to getting things done. 

But CIOs the world over are actively engaged with their leadership teams in changing IT's reputation. The goal for these CIOs is to shift IT from order-taker to business-partner, helping shape future business strategy and using technology to increase the value their organization brings to the end customers of the business.
 
This transition is not easy. Nor is it guaranteed to work. Sometimes an IT organization's employees are simply unwilling or unable to embrace the change. Sometimes the reputation of IT is so sullied that nothing short of a cold-reboot will work (organizations going down this route will start by outsourcing all of IT, then they gradually hire back key skills needed to derive more effective business outcomes).
 
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