I had the pleasure of keynoting the AIME 150th anniversary event last week. In advance of that session, I did a short interview addressing five questions posed by Amanda Blyth, publications manager for the association of Iron and Steel Technology. The questions were in the areas of energy, digital transformation, sustainability, skills needed in 2030, and remote work. The interview can be viewed below. Note: I misspoke during the interview. When addressing the skillset question, I for some reason reversed our left and right brain characteristics. It is our right-brain that houses those characteristics that make us distinctly human.
Let me start by stating I dislike the overused word transformation. I like it even less when it is paired with the word digital. First, if we are not in a perpetual state of transformation in this era of uncertainty, volatility, and rapid pace, we are not likely to advance our organizations or society. Second, digital is foundational and should be part of the fabric of any business, not an optional transformation initiative. When stated as digital transformation, it feels like an event as opposed to standard operating procedure. Are you considering the use of emerging technology to create value? That’s an everyday activity given how many technological building blocks exist and how many are on the horizon. Considering a new business model? It is not the transformative event it once was, but something that happens with regularity. Extreme event rattled the status quo? Likely part of the standard operating environment going forward.Continue reading
Many have drawn the conclusion that those organizations that invested in digital fared much better during the pandemic. When I think back to my early digital transformation content, the forcing functions that I felt would drive organizations to transform seemed clear. So why has the pandemic identified winners and losers? This question had me thinking about a discussion I had recently with colleague Hassan El Bouhali, where we reflected on the past several years in the context of what we expected and what actually happened. We specifically focused on a 2017 Video that Hassan, TCS CTO Ananth Krishnan, and I, did for an online course exploring the future. We decided to produce another video in the near term that reflects on our thoughts from four years ago. In the meantime, I started to revisit my older posts with reflection in mind, starting with my Thoughts on Automation from 2014, and then thinking about the digital discussion going on today.
In 2018, I explored what I felt was At the Heart of Digital Transformation. What strikes me from that post is how often I hear the word resilience today, and how infrequently I heard it back then. In 2015, I had a fascinating discussion with Futurist Gerd Leonhard that I captured in a post titled the Digital Transformation of Business and Society. To this day, that continues to be my most viewed post. It was a wide ranging conversation that covered topics like automation, society, digital governance, and technological unemployment. Gerd spoke of things like, instead of AI, we should refer to it as IA – or intelligent assistant. The key take away from that session was this:
The future is exponential, combinatorial, and interdependent: the sooner we can adjust our thinking (lateral) the better we will be at designing our future.Digital Transformation of Business and Society
We owe so much to the frontline heroes that serve society in critical times. The pandemic has shown us just how important and under-appreciated these individuals are. We owe them a debt of gratitude. Healthcare is one of those areas where we see both heroics and exposure. The lack of digital progress has been exposed across sectors by the virus. That is the bad news. The good news is that extreme events like this can serve as accelerants. This recent Article describes the turning point that COVID-19 likely represents for healthcare. Rethinking healthcare for the digital age should be a top priority (as it should across all industries).Continue reading
Several recent articles have focused on a world that is changing faster than anything the world has ever experienced. From the socioeconomic front, to the geopolitical, to the technological, and more, the pace is accelerating. This Acceleration is not new, but it seems that it finally made the radar of organizational leaders. This phenomenon calls into question the traditional view of five-year plans. The world in five years likely looks quite different than our current world. This puts the ability to pivot and change at the heart of future organization success criteria. This new-found awareness highlights the need for flexibility, resilience, and adaptability, likely accelerating the path Towards Digital Transformation.
It’s easy to view the current crisis as a catalyst for change. Lying beneath the surface are signals that major change is required, and when crisis emerges, hope for that change emerges with it. In most cases however, that change never materializes. The last two months have brought countless predictions of what is to come. While we need to consider the low percentage of successful post-crisis predictions in the past, two trends look likely to materialize: accelerated digital transformation, and a rapid path to automation.
Agility is the capacity to detect, assess, and respond to environmental changes in ways that are purposeful, decisive, and grounded in the will to win
A recent Article describes how Target transformed from a Retailer with stores in disrepair and leaders that struggled to adapt to changing consumer behavior, to a company that is thriving. Their first quarter results for 2019 beat analysts’ expectations, the store’s private-label lines are exploding, and the stock price is trading at an all-time high.
Target CEO Brian Cornel made a huge announcement in March of 2017 that it planned to invest over $7 billion in a turnaround strategy – Wall Street was not impressed, as Target suffered its largest stock plunge in almost a decade on the day of the announcement. But Mr. Cornel took a page out of Jeff Bezos book and pushed forward on a plan that included:
I recently authored an article on ecosystems and digital transformation along with leading platform strategist Simon Torrance. Here is a brief abstract of the article. You can read it Here on the TCS website – along with other perspectives on digital transformation.
As Frank Diana and Simon Torrance explain in “Defining Your Digital Ecosystem: The First Step in a Machine First™ Transformation,” many leaders are no longer looking at strategy and industry structure in the ways of a non-digital world. Instead, they’re analyzing how emerging ecosystems—networks of stakeholders, including business partners, suppliers, customers, and competitors that interact digitally to create value are supplanting traditional industries as the organizing construct. For example, in a mobility ecosystem, automakers no longer just make cars; they must redefine the very notion of automobile ownership and how people get around.
Colleague and fellow Futurist Simon Torrance has developed a new online course titled: The New Growth Playbook. It provides new research and course content focused on business model transformation for the digital economy. You can access this new online course for senior executives Here.
It’s based on new in-depth analysis of the business model performance of over 500 leading companies, and provides an holistic approach for moving the valuation needle, particularly for incumbent organisations.
Special offer for my network: 20% discount if you book using this link. There’s also a free sample video case study here: How Amazon creates new growth flywheels. The course is getting some great feedback already, so pass the details along to others. Some early feedback is highlighted below:
- “Brilliant analysis.” Senior Partner, Global Management Consultancy
- “I recommend this course to all leaders.” Digital Director, Global Bank
- “Simon is at the forefront of digital trends.” Group Chief Strategy Officer, Global Telco
- “Simon is one of a very small number of senior consultants who truly understands platform-based business models and how traditional enterprises can successfully incorporate them” Senior Director, European Media Company
- “Simon is a thought leader extraordinaire!” Director of Leadership, Global Training Company
- “Simon adds a lot of value” CEO, Global Packaging Company
More at: http://www.newgrowthplaybook.com
To transform is to change in form, appearance, structure, condition, nature, or character. It is an overly used word that can be made to fit several narratives. Yet, given its definition, the dynamics of what is sure to be a volatile and complex future should compel us all to transform. I believe however, that the narrative must change. This is not a technology discussion, and it is not a digital discussion (although digital is the reason we are here). Rather, it is discussion of likely structural shifts that alter our beliefs and intuitions. These shifts will fundamentally change the way we think about organizations.
Digital transformation means different things to different people. As I strive to change mindsets, I am sensitive to these distinct perspectives and the individual filters applied to terms like digital and transformation. In my view, Digital has been more narrow than holistic, while in some organizations ERP implementations are considered transformation. So, does digital transformation represent the narrow use of digital technology to improve some aspect of our organization? Or, is it the wholesale change of a set of structures, institutions and paradigms built for a different era? Although I have mostly abandoned the phrase, when I do use it, I mean the latter.
Let’s call it what it is, starting with the term transformation. To truly transform means to change from one nature, substance, form, or condition into another. I’d maintain that the pace of change has made the archaic nature of our industrial era structures, institutions, and management paradigms very apparent. Therefore, to transform in this sense means to change from the nature, form and substance of our industrial past, to a state that is viable for our digital future. Digital is foundational: the building block for which this future state is built upon. Therefore, for clarity sake, a better way to describe digital transformation is:
TRANSFORMATION FOR THE DIGITAL AGE: a change in the nature, substance, and form of our industrial past, to a future state that allows us to thrive in our emerging digital future.Continue reading
In a recent book titled Dual Transformation, the authors (Scott D. Anthony, Clark G. Gilbert, and Mark W. Johnson) focus on the challenging task of transforming the core while simultaneously creating a growth engine. They refer to it as dual transformation: Transformation A – repositioning the core, and Transformation B – creating the new. This complex tension is represented in this visual from our upcoming leadership course: Reimagining the Future: A Journey through the Looking Glass.Continue reading
At a recent KPMG Robotic Innovations event, Futurist and friend Gerd Leonhard delivered a keynote titled “The Digital Transformation of Business and Society: Challenges and Opportunities by 2020”. I highly recommend viewing the Video of his presentation. As Gerd describes, he is a Futurist focused on foresight and observations – not predicting the future. We are at a point in history where every company needs a Gerd Leonhard. For many of the reasons presented in the video, future thinking is rapidly growing in importance. As Gerd so rightly points out, we are still vastly under-estimating the sheer velocity of change.
With regard to future thinking, Gerd used my future scenario slide to describe both the exponential and combinatorial nature of future scenarios – not only do we need to think exponentially, but we also need to think in a combinatorial manner. Gerd mentioned Tesla as a company that really knows how to do this.
The notion of value creation and capture is a core component of business and the models that drive it. While historically viewed with a traditional product mindset, several emerging forces will alter this basic tenet of business. At its core, the way businesses create and capture value will change – the degree of change ranges from transformative to historical. The last several posts focused on the historical – namely Jeremy Rifkin’s view that we are heading towards A New Economic Paradigm. The foundation of Mr. Rifkin’s argument is a Third Industrial Revolution (TIR) platform that takes the marginal cost of production to near zero. Enabled by the Internet of Things, this General Purpose Technology (GPT) Platform could alter our landscape more dramatically than previous GPTs (steam-locomotive-printing press, electricity-auto-telephone). What happens to value creation and capture in a near zero marginal cost scenario?
Over the last three months, I have presented a framework for thinking about transforming the enterprise to the type of enterprise that can succeed in the year 2020 – What I call a digital enterprise.
Throughout this multi-part transformation series, I have focused on those forcing functions that push us to transform – the drivers that stir us to action. Old models that were created for another time cannot lead us into this future – we must think differently. We must invent the models that define business in the decades ahead.
So, I wrap up this closer look at transformation with the hope that I’ve convinced you in some small way that we are indeed heading towards what is likely to be the most transformative period in history. My hope is that leaders everywhere think differently to usher in a period of prosperity and societal advancement. Instead of talk of disruption, let us talk of enablement and advancement. May we each have the wisdom, vision and courage to lead in this emerging transformative period.
For a review of this entire transformation series, here is an intro and link to each of the prior posts. As a reminder, forcing functions are those things that force the enterprise to invest in a future state. The enablers are those facilitators of change that allow us to address the forcing functions and build a path towards the future. Click on the underlined title to access each post.
Next up in this transformation series is the eighth enabler: the evolution from descriptive to predictive analytics. At the heart of future success lies the ability to leverage insight for competitive advantage. Yet, analytic capability and data driven cultures are lacking in most organizations, and most executives when assessing their positioning on a descriptive-to-prescriptive scale answer level one. The table below defines each level:
Next up in this transformation series is the seventh enabler: Collective Intelligence. One of the key themes throughout this transformation series is the clear movement from an enterprise entity to an extended enterprise of stakeholders. This extended enterprise – or what I alternatively call value ecosystem – increases complexity and requires a new management approach to be effective. I use the term collective intelligence as an umbrella phrase that combines the critical need for both collaboration and analytic excellence. This includes other forces like crowd computing, crowdsourcing, co-creation, and wisdom of the crowd – all of which stem from the connectedness of our world, and the growing realization that value creation requires a broader community.
Next up in this transformations series is the sixth enabler: sense and respond systems. These systems are critical to the transformation agenda, as most of the disruptive technologies likely to impact the enterprise in the next decade have data at its core. The resulting data explosion promises to complicate information management for most companies. As the speed of business accelerates and the amount of data flowing through company ecosystems expands, the need to sense stimuli and enable a real time response intensifies. Fortunately, rapid advancements in the price and performance of technology make realizing this sense and respond paradigm achievable and economical for a wide range of use cases – but this is arguably one of the most difficult components of transformation road maps.
Next up in this transformation series is the fifth enabler: systems of engagement. Geoffrey Moore introduced the Systems of Engagement concept about two years ago. This vision for the future of Information Technology is gaining broader acceptance – but a surprising number of executives are blind to the coming sea change. Where current enterprise systems are designed around records (systems of record); these new systems are designed around interactions. Where technology investment in the last two decades enabled transaction workers and executives – these systems enable the middle of organizations with a focus on growth.