The No. 1 Barrier To Effective Digital Transformation

In a recent post, I wrote about how digital experiences shape customer perceptions of value. But it's easy to forget that your organization's culture also shapes your customer's perception of value.

Earlier this week, I was moderating a panel on digital transformation at a Software AG event in New York. In opening the event, Kevin Niblock, Software AG's North America President and COO, described digital business as "a cultural phenomenon." Organizational culture plays an enormous role in the ability of a company's employees to transform a traditional business into a digital business.

If you're not the CEO, you might be forgiven for thinking that you have little control over your corporate culture. But we all have the opportunity to shape our organization's culture. And while nurturing the company culture is arguably one of the most important jobs of the CEO, it is also a critical capability for any leader.

Former IBM Chairman and CEO, Lou Gerstner, reminds us of this in an excellent Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article: "The Culture Ate Our Corporate Reputation". Gerstner writes: "What is critical to understand here is that people do not do what you expect but what you inspect. Culture is not a prime mover. Rather it is a derivative. It forms as a result of signals employees get from the corporate processes that structure their work priorities."

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How To Unlock Tech Industry Digital Transformation

It's no surprise that tech companies are vested in the digital transformation of their customers. But many tech companies find it difficult to leave their product-centric models behind and focus on customer outcomes. That's just one of the findings from the research published on digital transformation in the tech sector.

True customer obsession demands an outside-in perspective. Tech companies must learn to see their business from the perspective of their customers; beginning with customer desires and working back to the new digital capabilities that can enable the outcomes that satisfy those desires.

But a common problem for tech companies is their business structure. Built around successful products, the P&L structure in most tech companies reflects internal strength — business capabilities if you like — the structure optimizes the ability to bring specific products and product features to market. But from the outside looking in, the product structure can seem at odds with what the customer wants. I can't count how many times the same company has treated me like a new customer, even though I already own one of the products made by the brand — my guess is you've had a similar experience.

Of course this isn't a problem unique to the tech industry. But the tech industry sits at the heart of the digital transformation of many businesses — helping their customers take advantage of their technology to transform their businesses. So you might be forgiven for expecting the tech industry to have figured out it's own transformation already. Not so much.

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BMC Wants A Greater Share Of The Digital Economy

Last week I attended BMC's Engage event, an analyst forum in Vegas, as a guest of BMC. Like every other technology vendor, BMC would like a greater share of the emerging digital economy.

With more and more businesses moving to the public cloud, I have no doubt in my mind that the on-prem data center market will diminish quickly over the coming years. I also expect mainframes to go the way of the dodo within 10 years, but many others have previously predicted the demise of mainframes and time has proven them wrong, so I accept I may also be premature.

BMC, a bastion of IT operations, now wants to help IT leaders become drivers of digital business. Indeed, BMC has positioned many of the current raft of product offerings to help tech leaders deliver a more efficient and agile tech capability for the business. And this is important. One of the biggest challenges for many large technology teams is their lack of agility. In the age of the customer, tech teams need to tap into every opportunity (and automation capability) to drive greater agility and efficiency throughout their technology delivery capabilities.

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How To Solve The Digital Dilemma

There's a fundamental difference between companies that apply digital technology as a bolt-on (frequently adding an eCommerce site, social media, or customer mobile apps) and those that take a more holistic approach to transforming the way the company uses technology to deliver better customer outcomes and drive revenue. 

Transformers are more likely to succeed because they recognize their customers' expectations are evolving. The executives in these companies redesign their business to evolve alongside the expectations of their customers. These companies are obsessed with helping their customers achieve their desired outcomes, and they continuously explore new ways to do that profitably. This is why transformers are destined to become digital predators while bolt-on companies are more likely to become digital prey.

One of the distinguishing characteristics of many transformers that caught my attention back in 2013 remains a challenge for many companies in 2016: delivering digital operational excellence (DOX). DOX focuses on the ability to use emerging technologies to change operational aspects of the business (those not directly touching the customer) to create business agility in service of the customer. Why is this important? Because without the ability to evolve quickly, your company will fail. This is the digital dilemma.

I use this simple equation to illustrate my point:

The Digital Dilemma. Formula: Perceived Value equals experience over expectations. Source: Forrester Research @NigelFenwick

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One Million Thanks!

Thank you for your support!

I'm delighted to see this blog has officially had over one million views, making this one of the most read blogs at Forrester! 

I truly appreciate all the support of you, my readers, in helping share this content with your peers. So thank you a million times.

Here is a selection of the most popular reads based on your recommendations, page views and one or two I just like the most:

Social Media:

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The 2016 Guide To Digital Predators, Transformers, and Dinosaurs

By 2020, every company that exists today will have become a digital predator or digital prey. This isn't news to you if you follow my research or blog posts. In fact I've been saying that since 2014. But why is it that some companies seem to understand digital business more than others? Is their a difference in the leadership in digital predators compared to digital dinosaurs?

These are the questions I dig into in my latest research "The 2016 Guide To Digital Predators, Transformers, and Dinosaurs." To get at the answers, we analyzed the results from the digital business survey to tease apart companies that are already digital, those that are transforming to become more digital, and those that are remaining less digital. Examining the perspectives of business executives in each group, we reveal how the digital business DNA differes between predators, transformers and dinosaurs.

Executives At Digital Predators Are Really, Really Customer Obsessed

While all companies profess to put customers first, it’s clear from the data that executives at digital Predators care more passionately about the customer across multiple dimensions: In every customer metric we measured, these executives rated the importance of the customer higher than peers in transformers and dinosaurs – in short, they are not just customer obsessed, they are really, really customer obsessed. Nowhere is this clearer than in the perception of how to apply digital thinking to the business:

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Digital Transformation 2016 Infographic

They say a picture is worth a 1000 words .... so our graphics designers and my wonderful research associate, Rachael Klehm, created this infographic to highlight a few of the data points from the Digital Transformation Playbook and the Forrester / Odgers Berndtson Digital Business research study. 

The challenge most companies still have is their CEO either doesn't understand how fast their world is about to change or simply cannot allocate sufficient investment to something that will not bear fruit (at least from an investor's perspective) for a year of two. Unfortunately, when it comes to digital transformation, a short-term share-price focus is likely to lead to failure within a few years. 

True transformation (vs bolt-on) is a fundamental strategic shift for most companies. 

On the plus side, that's no doubt one of the reasons why so many clients ask me to present to their executive teams!

Previous post: Digital's golden rule; always save your customer's time
Next post: The 2016 Guide To Digital Predators, Transformers and Dinosaurs

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Digital's Golden Rule: Always Save Your Customer’s Time

Digital lessons from a recent hotel experience.
I’m sitting here in my hotel room writing this and watching the in-room dining web page on my phone fail. It’s apparently given up the ghost and is caught in a perpetual loop. It’s the first time I tried using this particular hotel chain’s mobile website. The “Room Service Order Online” features prominently on the first page of the in-room guide. Never one to miss out on an opportunity to test a digital experience I figured I’d give it a go.
First, the photo in the room guide shows what looks to be a native app. So naturally, the first thing I did was go to the App store and search for the app using the hotel name. Nothing. HMMM … time to take a closer look at the page in the in-room guide.
Aha … I now see I need to browse to the hotel’s web domain and append /atyourservice. Of course they could have offered a QR code to make it easy but they don’t so I type it all in on the tiny keys on my phone. And then I’m brought to a page that looks remarkably like the hotel chain’s main landing page. Bear in mind I’m browsing while I’m in my room on the hotel’s wifi network. They ought to know where I am.
Nothing on this page says anything about ordering food. But I can browse to reserve a hotel room at one of a number of hotels! I can even checkin! Oh wait - I did that already.
I‘m thinking there must be a link to room-service somewhere …. Wait … there’s a pull down menu at the top … let’s see what this has - surely there’s a room service menu in here?
Oh! this is what I find (see figure).
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Envision 2016: Microsoft Pushes Beyond IT

Where was HololensThis week in New Orleans, Microsoft launched it's first conference aimed squarely at business leaders as the company looks to move beyond the department of the CIO. Envision 2016 replaces Microsoft's previous Convergence conference and comes on the heels of "Build2016" the previous week.
As a guest of Microsoft, I had two reasons to attend Envision: First, to hear from CEO Satya Nadella and other Microsoft executives; I wanted to better understand their business strategy going forward, specifically as it relates to enterprise customers. Secondly, I had the opportunity to provide feedback to Microsoft leaders on its enterprise marketing strategy.
It was no doubt clear to attendees that Microsoft wants a relationship with enterprise customers beyond the office of the CIO. Based on Satya's opening keynote, there is a recognition that Microsoft must become a more strategic business partner, helping today's CIO clients work alongside their line-of-business peers to deliver on the promise of digital business. 
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Digitizing The Car: Why Auto-Makers Are On The Wrong Track


I’m a bit of a car nut. I love driving cars. So does my wife. We both autocross one of our cars most weekends in the New England summers (FYI AutoX is a great way to hone your driving skills and be a safer driver). We love our cars and I’m pretty passionate about the whole driving experience.

As a car junkie, I love the fact that automakers are bringing digital experiences to their cars, but I can’t help thinking they are going about it all backwards – or as we say at Forrester, from the inside out.

In my post from CES this year, I noted that every single automaker seems hell-bent on making the car the center of their customer’s digital world. No doubt manufacturers hear the siren call of customer data; imagining all that they could do with such rich information. But it’s inside-out because, even for car-lovers like me, the car is not the center of my digital universe and I doubt it ever will be. Why? Because my car doesn’t go with me wherever I go. But you know what does? My phone.

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