– Photo “Ile de Ré and Phare de Baleine, France”.
A digital World
We are all living in an increasingly digital world. There are more video views on Youtube than Google searches in a day, 3 billion people connected to the internet, 2 billion smartphones and 1.5 billion Facebook users. And growing!
By 2020 4 billion people will have access to the internet through their smartphones!
We have seen lots of companies face these new challenges by hiring a CDO – Chief Digital Officer.
At first, it felt like a smart move to get someone who embodies digital onto the board. That would secure digital at the top of the agenda.
The CDO’s objective is to find the best way to incorporate digital within the company and offer more digital services to clients. They have to handle links between businesses, marketing and IT which is extremely challenging 😉
Let’s take a step back and consider what digital could be for the company.
Does digital mean more IT? A new mobile app? Not sure this will solve your client’s pains or improve your services against the competition? Digital and Cloud are a challenge for all executives. Most of the time they are not aware of the new capabilities available. What are the new digital things? Behind digital, you have technology : Cloud based IT could deliver on demand resources, Big Data with real time analytics, Artificial Intelligence with machine learning. These are just a few examples of what is available on our shelves today. So, a strong understanding of technology has become vital to enable us if we are to envisage new solutions for our clients. Cloud computing is the how of digital.
The CEO is the digital leader.
To understand this, you need an education process across the board. Then, as a team, you need the top of the company to embody digital and cloud : the CEO.
We need the CEO’s sponsorship to lead digital and the board as a team to manage this huge transformation for the company. With a deep understanding of the new digital capabilities, the board can fully leverage the digital world opportunities to build new services (end to end digital services) and increase their competitive advantage. Innovation would be enabled at a marginal cost which might change your entire company : the dawn of creative innovators (see the post here).
Where to start?
I like to talk about core (core IT, business critical IT) and petals (non core IT). Each time, the objective is to have an impact on the core of the company’s business and each time I suggest we come to the same conclusion : a new mobile app or a new cool website 🙁
We could definitely find a better way.
Again, digital is not about more IT or more IT in a new way. Digital is a new business process to deliver and improve the services you will provide to your clients leveraging new technology assets. The easiest way is to start with petal services (non core business functions) related to your core business like client engagement or client customisation. The transformation will be smoother and then when it works, you can replicate it or let the petal challenge a part of your core activity which will in turn be digitalised further.
Another good way to start is to challenge the way you see your business. I’d like to give you two examples. The first one is SNCF (the French railway services ). They decided to change the company statement from “running trains” to “mobility services”. This might appear a simple matter of words. I consider it a very smart move which opens up the opportunity for new digital services like social transportation. The second example is Schneider Electric. I am always impressed by how they are moving from an electric manufacturer to something more like an ”energy as a services company”. They embrace Cloud capabilities to deliver new services and also to build their own competitive advantage. For both examples, the leadership is coming from the top – the CEO – who is leading this digital vision across theses companies.
Again, I will insist on the need for executives to have a deep understanding on Cloud. The how of your digital strategy depends on your mastering of this new world. Are you ready for the new black?