Transforming for the Digital Age


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.

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Dual Transformation


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.

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The Year of Shifts


The year of shifts is upon us. 2016 will ultimately be viewed as the bridge to a different future; a year where our intuition and beliefs will be reset. Accelerating advancements across science and technology have set the foundation for these shifts. Driven by societal and economic challenges, we will leverage this foundation to change current institutions and build new ones. To succeed, organizations of all types must view transformation through a different lens; one that enables their role in this future. In my current series, I am focusing on the thirteen (13) key enablers of future viability. The first post explored Structural Change. In this post, I will look closer at the pillars of transformation, and delve into the second enabler: a holistic digital foundation.

the-pillars-of-transformation

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Competing in the Age of Disruption


This future series continues with a look at a new book by Geoffrey Moore titled Zone to Win: Organizing to Compete in an Age of Disruption. In my last post on Emerging Models, I looked at a model based on business type. The model explored by Mr. Moore is based on zones, and came to life in his work with Salesforce.com and Microsoft. With Salesforce, the model supported a focus on disruption (offense), and with Microsoft, it supported a posture against disruption (defense). The four zones as identified by the author are depicted in the visual below:Four Zones Quadrant

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IDC Predicts a DX Economy


IDC today announced its worldwide information technology (IT) industry predictions for 2016 and beyond. The predictions were published in a new IDC FutureScape report. As we embrace the notion of Future Thinking

This forward looking guidance is critical. Here is a snippet from the report:

“The disruptive impact of digital transformation is about to be felt in every industry as enterprises ‘flip the switch’ and massively scale up their DX initiatives to secure a leadership role in the DX economy,” said Frank Gens, Senior Vice President and Chief Analyst at IDC. “In the next two years, two-thirds of Global 2000 CEOs will put DX at the center of their growth and profitability strategies. By the end of this decade, IDC predicts that the percentage of enterprises with advanced DX strategies and implementations will more than double.”

IDC predicts that the scale-up of digital business strategies will drive more than half of enterprise IT spending within the next 24 months, rising to 60% by 2020. Mastery of 3rd Platform technologies will be table stakes for successfully executing DX business initiatives and “Cloud First” will become the new mantra for enterprise IT. Virtually none of the other 3rd Platform technologies or major DX initiatives is possible in scaled-up implementations without the Cloud as the foundation. By 2020, IDC predicts that enterprise spending on cloud services, the hardware and software to support cloud services, and the services for implementing and managing cloud services will exceed $500 billion, more than three times what it is today.

Source: FutureScape

Additional predictions were provided:

  1. By the End of 2017, Two-Thirds of the CEOs of the G2000 Will Have Digital Transformation at the Center of Their Corporate Strategy
  2. By 2017, 60% Companies with a DX Strategy Will Deem It Too Critical for Any One Functional Area and Create an Independent Corporate Executive Position to Oversee the Implementation
  3. By 2018, 80% of B2C Companies Will Have Created Immersive, Authentic Omni-Experiences for Customers, Partners, and Employees; 60% of B2B-Centric Companies Will Have Done the Same
  4. The Top New Investment Areas Through 2017 Will Be Contextual Understanding and Automated Next Best Action Capabilities
  5. In 2016, 65% of Large Enterprises Will Have Committed to Become Information-Based Companies, Shifting the Organizational Focus to Relationships, People, and Intangible Capital
  6. By 2018, 75% of the G2000 Will Have Deployed Full, Information-Based, and Economic Models or “Digital Twins” of Their Products/Services, Supply Network, Sales Channels, and Operations
  7. By 2020, 60% of the G2000 Will Have Doubled Their Productivity by Digitally Transforming Many Processes from Human-Based to Software-Based Delivery
  8. In 2016, the Level of Connectivity Related to Products, Assets, and Processes Will Increase 50% for All Industry Value Chains
  9. The Sharing Economy Will Give Rise to the Networked Free Agent and Skill-Based Marketplaces, Resulting in More than 10% of Work Being Sourced in this Fashion in Mature Economies by 2019
  10. By 2018, at Least 20% of All Workers Will Use Automated Assistance Technologies to Make Decisions and Get Work Done

Future Thinking


I’m struggling with the term disruption and its effectiveness in driving urgency. Most definitions describe a radical change in an industry or business strategy, and most involve the introduction of a new product or service that creates a new market. My struggle is not with this decades old view of disruption, but its application in the context of our exponential world. The word disruption is viewed through a traditional lens. I end up in debates about the validity of a disruptive scenario as viewed through this lens, versus the massive implications of these future scenarios viewed through an exponential lens. The ensuing dialog focuses on:

  • Coming up with disruptive innovation before our competitors do
  • Embracing protectionist behavior to block a disruptor
  • I’m not worried, regulatory hurdles in my industry block the impact of disruptors
  • I’m safe, my industry is very stable

Future Thinking

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An Interview with Futurist Thornton May


I thought it would be interesting to get a slightly different perspective on the questions that I posed to Futurist Gerd Leonhard in our recent interview. So I reached out to IT Futurist Thornton May. Thornton and I have interacted on a number of occasions at various events. His bio describes him as a futurist, educator and author. His extensive experience researching and consulting on the role and behaviors of C-level executives in creating value with information technology has won him an unquestioned place on the short list of serious thinkers on this topic. Thornton moderates the nationally recognized CIO Solutions Gallery program, intended for executives and senior leaders in the technology and operations communities.

With that background, I was excited to explore these broad topics with Thornton. His perspective follows.

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