Digital Transformation, books to consider

In short digital is going to impact your business. distruption        I do not care if you are a diner, a bank, a doctor or a farmer.

There is right now more than one set of individuals building a business to steal your customers by showing them there is a NEW way to satisfy the need/want your business is currently satisfying.

thinking of customer    Thinking of your customer, why do they buy your product or service is key to digital.  You are not selling them a safe place to keep their money or to rid them of pain.  You are lowering their anxiety in a convenient manner to their individual perception of both.

I get this wrong all the time. I asked a question the other day of a very smart group of people.

What would they want the person to lead them to bring to the table?

I had surmised beforehand the answers would be either specific technology skills on cloud, analytics, security or devops and/or deep experience on implementing technologies in their niche industry.

Nope.

resolute-plaque-c2009   Stability.

They wanted to have someone who can come in an manage upwards to provide a path they could work to and deliver so they could feel successful.

What does your customer today need/want from you?  How can you find out?

What can you do/change to convince a brand new customer that you can satisfy their need/want that is NOT what you do today?

The books – 

Digital lipstick on a pig – Vaasa S. Gavarasana   lipstick

A quick read though too high level.  Key points are to –

  • focus on all the interactions with the customer/consumer  Cusomer-knows-what-he-wants
    • sales of course
    • customer service
    • account receivable
    • marketing
    • IT for EDI and compliance
    • operations for special orders/customizations

I would add if you are more distribution focused to add a vendor focus to reduce cost and increase agility.

To do this change you need –

  • A star trek bridge – aka a focused group – not just IT, like a startup business in the business
  • Good basic analytics, but add to it the digital/non-digital connections so everyone sees them
  • A Winston Churchill – well for any change you need Churchill – aka an evangelist.   churchill
    • Being a bit wacky cannot hurt in my opinion.

 

 

 

Digital Disruption – James McQuivey   d disruption

A longer read and focused on being controversial (scare the begegus out of you) versus a guide.

Key points –

  • The power of digital disruption is that it can disrupt any aspect of any product or service
  • Processes that are deep within companies or physical things that govern partnerships, data collection, pricing and management of resources
  • Even non-digital business will be disrupted
  • Digital disruption answers the question – what if it did not take money to make money?
  • digital disrupter default answer is yes – meaning yes, we can do that to whatever the questions is.  I truly believe this with technology today
  • How can we give customers something they really want?
  • To be successful test how ready you are with energy, skills and policies
  • Ask the question will my company’s relationship with our customers will be stronger in 5 years?
  • Again start with the customer, accept failures failure                 and look at the total customer experience

Digital Uncovered – Ian Cox      uncovered

The most guide like of the three, but uses OLD case studies of Blockbuster, Borders and so on.  Gets to more modern cases later in the book and likes to quote Forrester and the like which to me has always been like using The Farmer’s Almanac for planning your vacation.  forecast    If it is right great, but you don’t get to file a claim to recoup your vacation cost from Farmer’s if it rains all week.

Stated that most businesses surveyed state digital transformation will impact their industry in three years.  Three bloody years.  Makes you feel like you are already missing the bus.  bus           Relax – not yet.

Once again – start with the customer, move quickly, take risks and be prepared to fail.

The best definition I have read/heard so far – Digital is enabling people, devices and/or machines to connect and interact (transact business) with each other from any location and at any time.   anywhere

Seven truths, eh.

  1. Customers are in chargein charge
  2. Markets move quickly
  3. Data is a valuable asset
  4. Disruption can happen anywhere
  5. There are NO boundaries
  6. Ecosystems and platforms are key
  7. Technology is fundamental

Okay, 4 and 5, are the same as well as 6 and 7.  So let’s say 5 truths.  truth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

How you should create an IT Strategy

As anyone who started his or her own business, like I did, or have been in a senior leadership position with a business, yep I have that too to draw upon.

experience

You were likely asked to add to or develop a strategic plan.

Might have been 3, 5 or even 10 years.  Longer if you are in city planning or such.  There are plenty of templates along with courses on how to develop a strategic plan.  Thousands of consultants, myself included who would love to be hired to help you with that effort.

From the technology side you tie the strategy (new technology, upgrades, replacements, yada yada) with a technology roadmap.  Think of it like major house renovation.  Parts of the house will stay, but most of it will be replaced. house

 

In this case servers, switches, storage and so forth.

 

 

stopWell, you should stop doing that – now!

 

 

 

Instead, focus on capabilities.  capabilities  A capabilities strategy will not only improve alignment with business, but ensure you are working with the right partners.

If your organization says they want to know more about their customers. What capabilities are need to learn more about your customers?

Improve flexibility of getting to existing internal data, plus adding multiple external data sources from purchased structured data to unstructured social and other data sources.

Stop – don’t start listing the types of databases, servers and application integration points you will need.  That is later, like knowing what size refrigerator or TV screen you want for the house.  What you need to know is how you like to entertain.

Capabilities again.  Integration, analytics (cognitive and predictive), data cleansing, visualization and so forth to create the capability to deliver the business value will be needed with in house or consulting services.

Yes, there will be a point where you have to start talking about databases and infrastructure, but by focusing on capabilities you can start with learning your customer’s habits from the internal buying habits for insights as a start to capabilities.  The second part of the roadmap will add another data source and then another, integrating into CRM and Order Management application processes.

This works as I said not only to the benefit of ensuring the technology strategy is exactly aligned with the business strategy, but provides you the language you want to hear from your partner consultants either directly or from their customer references.

executives   It also gives you the language to explain the strategy to your fellow executives.

It works equally with growth and profit focused strategies.

How you should create an IT Strategy

astrategy

As anyone who started his or her own business, like I did, or have been in a senior leadership position with a business, yep have that too to draw upon.  You were likely asked to add to or develop a strategic plan.

Might have been 3, 5 or even 10 years.  Longer if you are in city planning or such.  There are plenty of templates, courses on how to and consultants a plenty to help you with that effort.

 

From the technology side you tie the strategy (new technology, upgrades, replacements, yada yada) with a technology roadmap.  Think of it like a moving plan.

 

Well, you should stop doing that – now.    astop

 

Instead, focus on capabilities.  A capabilities strategy will not only improve alignment with business, but ensure you are working with the right partners.

If your organization says they want to know more about their customers. What capabilities are need to learn more about your customers?

 

aflexibleImprove flexibility of getting to existing internal data, plus adding multiple external data sources from purchased structured data to unstructured social and other data sources.

 

Stop – don’t start listing the types of databases, servers and application integration points you will need.  That is later, like knowing that the big furniture and appliances get loaded first into the trailer.  Right now we need to know we need a trailer and people who can carry stuff.

Capabilities again.  Integration, analytics (correlation and predictive), data cleansing, visualization and so forth to create the capability to deliver the business value will be needed with in house or consulting services.

Yes, there will be a point where you have to start talking about databases and infrastructure, but by focusing on capabilities you can start with learning your customer’s habits from the internal buying habits for insights as a start to capabilities.  The second part of the roadmap will add another data source and then another, integrating into CRM and Order Management application processes.

This works as I said not only to the benefit of ensuring the technology strategy is exactly aligned with the business strategy, but provides you the language you want to hear from your partner consultants either directly or from their customer references.

aalignment

It works equally with growth and profit focused strategies.

Stop spending most of your tech budget on administration

new perspectiveOne of the new perspectives I gained recently is that most business leaders rarely stop the merry-go-round of dealing with day to day running the business to see that there are only solutions to the problems they complain about daily.

 

              • Lack of the right information to make decisions at the time they need it
              • Applications require too many steps and/or lack the ability to quickly automate learned actions from decision data
              • Poor performance of new products/services or entry into new markets

 

feel the heat

Some change when they see the light, most when they feel the heat – and we mean it has to be hot.    

 

Gartner states that 68% of IT budgets on average will be used to maintain existing technology.  Not great news for technology vendors. This should be good news for IT, but in truth it is not good at all.

Let me explain.

Most of my personal budget (you know my money) is similarly tied up.  Most of my paycheck goes to maintain my existing or past lifestyle (apartment, maintenance on my car, kids college loans, cable TV and so on).  I estimate I spend 6% of my income on NEW INNOVATIVE experiences, aka vacations, entertainment and okay a lot of golf.

Much of the ‘maintenance’ payments free my time up to pursue new experiences or to gain new knowledge.  I do not have maintain my home (mow, weed, paint and so on), car or book my own travel – so I get to write, read, see new art at museums (a favorite), learn Tai Chi (not really, I play golf) and more. something new

In other words, I am not just maintaining my lifestyle with most of my paycheck I optimizing it so I can grow my personal experiences and profit in character building (dear me that was corny).

IT with that 68% is not gaining from this spend.  That 68% is not freeing up IT to leverage the 32% of the remaining budget and their staff to learn new technologies and experiment with them, thus impacting the top or bottom lines.  

It is barely reducing administration time.

Has it eliminated redundant tasks? No.

Ask these questions to challenge the value of the 68%.

  • Are most of the IT staff at your company doing different things if not most days at-least each month.
  • Working on a new project?
  • Building a new app?
  • Proposing a new end user capability?do something cool

Well?

Going back to my days as the guy in charge of IT you had to overcome the fear of failure first with your teams, but then you had to allocated funds and time to not just learn new technologies but PLAY with them.

So strategy cannot be what we say is most important that year buy truly acting on what you should be doing next.

six million dollar manYour business can be better, stronger, faster (I am just crazy corny writing today) than that 68% is providing your company.


          • How can we make decisions better at out company?
          • What can we do to find new markets?
          • Why can our consumers of the information technology take the next step in exploiting it?

 

So STOP.  Get your best internal people together (IT and Line of Business) and the most trusted external partner you have.  

Then spend a day figuring out what you should be doing next.

Then Nike the crap out of it.  now or laterThe measure will not just be your growth and profitability, but where your focus is each day.

Eating IT from the toes up

I lived for a time in Bethlehem, PA.  Unlike the Billy Joel song the big steel plant was in Bethlehem, not Allentown.  Allentown must have been easier to rhyme   In the middle of the town was this rusty hulk of buildings just sitting there for years.  It is now a casino – I’m not sure that is an improvement.

When I asked about what made Bethlehem Steel fail I got comments about greed, stupidity, arrogance and foreign competition.  The most complete story I heard was that mini-steel mills killed big bad Bethlehem Steel.  Not just foreign ones, but US based mini-mills.  The mini-mills started by making Rebar .  You know, the ribbed bars they put in to reinforce cement.

It is low margin product and from a steel perspective not high tech engineering.  Well, the story goes that the Beth Steel Execs ignored the mini-mills stealing their Rebar business as it was low margin.  The mini-mills were going to eat Beth Steel by starting with the low margin products – aka their toes.

In the end, the mini-mills built up their technical know how and capability and moved continuously up the margin chain of products until they helped (not completely responsible as the Beth Steel Execs were also greedy, stupid and arrogant) kill Beth Steel.

Many IT shops are seeing this same event happening to them.  Starts with BYOD, then soon BYOS (Bring Your Own Software or Solution) and will soon be UYODC (Use Your Own Data Center).  The netsmartphones are just vendors eating at IT’s toes by marketing and selling direct to the end user.

Now software vendors are in it with desktop/tablet and cloud based solutions that need little if any IT support.  This will soon evolve from single software products to suites to whole enterprise solutions faster then you can say – what happened.

And this is a good thing.  For unlike Beth Steel, IT will not be killed or go out of business, IT will evolve.  From a centralized separate group to an integrated function within a business organization made up of business analytics, data quality managers, service managers and hopefully still the need for a CIO who works on strategy and governance.

You have heard for years that IT needs to learn more about the business and become more business focused.  Those in IT who heeded those warnings/recommendations you will find homes where your combined talents are desperately needed in the business.

For those in IT who did not, well you will be like the steel workers in Bethlehem and Allentown.

Don’t believe me – well this article ‘The end of the IT department, was written more than a year ago by a smarter person than I.  It will happen, 5 years, 10, but not more than 20.

Blog – Do you know where your company IP is

Your sitting at your desk and you are looking through a great report or slide show provided by that smart as a whip employee in your department who always seems to be able to get things done and get you the information you need when you need it.

This is a highly confidential report/slide show that you would not want shared with the public, never mind your customers, suppliers or competition.

You are not aware that this report/slide show was created in Google Apps or stored in a Dropbox account sync which Ms. smart as a whip or that you are viewing it on Slideshare.

                       

 

 

 

 

Your employee did not use the company  –

  • MS-Office license or
  • servers for storing the file or
  • as such the file is not secured, password/firewall/ACL/ or
  • using an encryption process.

The file is just out there protected by the most highly security procedure in the world – ignorance.

 

 

 

This is not a bad thing.  Your employees are using the tools that the web and their mobile devices make available to them to do their job more productivily for them individually.

 

Here is the bad thing.

 

You need to be aware of this as an executive of your company so you know where your intellectial property (that precious company IP beyond trademarks) is being created, modified, shared and stored.

 

Here is the worst thing.

Your reaction being a quick policy statement banning this type of activity.  Stating that all work product by your knowledge workers MUST be done on company computers, using company software and stored on company servers.

 

Right – that will work.

 

How is that enforced exactly?  Just like a yield sign in New Jersey right?

 

The reaction should be –

  1. Find out how prevalent this is in your company
  2. Discuss at the executive level how this impacts your risk management of your IP
  3. How this impacts your current IT strategy (licensing, having your own data center, mobility)

 

You cannot stop this – so find a way to use it to your advantage.

Book Review – Execution, The Discipline of Getting Things Done

Author Larry Bossidy & Ram Charan

A quick read with each chapter giving you something useful to put into practice.  All too often leaders get frustrated that completion of activities is not occurring and they lash out at their teams.

 

 

 

 

I have been guilty of this action and thankfully my teams have been forthright enough to point out that I was acting like a crazed Captain Kirk asking to get 110% and to just make it so (ok that is Picard).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

–       Seven essentials of execution on page 57

  • While these are built upon in the rest of the book, reminding myself quickly brings back the concepts to actually use.

 

–       As a leader you have to show up on page 63

  • Showing up defined as being present, not losing your attention by focusing on your smartphone, tablet or SQUIRREL!
  • Focus on the person or people in front of you.

 

–       New EDS Beliefs on page 91

  • Changing not the values in your business, department or team – but changing the beliefs about those values.
  • First as part of your SWOT identify the old beliefs both internal and external, and then define the new.

–       Leadership Assessment Summary on page 151

  • A simple chart to evaluate the potential and current value of your team

–       Principle of simultaneity on page 232

  • During planning session and budget development change from doing separately and start with a gathering all business leaders to set the foundation for simultaneously agreeing to direction, plans and budget allocations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I review this book once a month to refocus my efforts when working with teams.  It offers simple reminders on focusing on priorities and facilitating the same with your teams.