Previous tech horror stories
There aren’t that many advantages to getting old, but you can’t beat living through things and the experience it gives you. Over the years we’ve been researching “tech” we’ve seen a lot of “innovations” that were set to change everything (for better or worse).
- Y2K was going to see planes falling out of the sky – they didn’t
- RFID was going to revolutionise retail – luckily I didn’t hold my breath
- E – commerce meant the death of shops – try telling my daughters that
- E – readers spelt the end of books – books currently enjoying a renaissance
- Twitter meant the end of newspapers – Don’t tell George Osborne
- BYOD – posed a bigger security threat than North Korea – unproven
Digital transformation meets the industrial revolution
So, given some of my experiences I was, I have to confess, a little cynical when we started researching Digital Transformation (it felt a bit like this year’s black) and some of the hyperbole that was being used to promote it. Was my cynicism misplaced? Partly, in the sense that it feels more like a sensible technological evolution rather than the revolution some are trying to position it as but, should we be surprised at that? Significant structural changes don’t happen overnight. The first industrial revolution (and potentially Digital Transformation is a revolution in terms of its consequences) took 60 – 70 years to happen. Yes, things definitely happen quicker now but for real change to occur the right preconditions still have to be in place: skills, resources, technology, a catalyst for change etc. Potentially the last of these, a catalyst for change, is less important as if we’ve learned anything over recent years it’s that change is constant and the pace of change increases constantly. Having said that something invariably has to happen to push things forward and this is possibly where Digital Transformation “feels” different to some of the other supposed revolutions we’ve seen over the years.
What makes things different today
Recent studies for OpenText and DocuSign have both shown that it’s senior exec’s and boards of directors who are really driving adoption which suggests what we’re seeing is a material change rather than a change driven by a technological innovation. In many ways this is a good thing as it suggests the drivers behind adoption are business centric rather than “tech” centric so Digital Transformation is more likely to succeed and deliver tangible benefits. Our studies suggest the key benefits being sought include:
- The use of data and insight to change the business
- To better understand customers and make decisions closer to them
- To change business processes, products and services so they align with customer expectations
- Better informed decision making.
- Digitising manual processes, governance and compliance
- Enhanced connectivity with customers, suppliers and colleagues
- Increasing customer satisfaction and retention
This an interesting mix of traditional and new ambitions but ironically many of the barriers to adoption could have been copied directly from a study we ran in the 1990’s
- Legacy and non integrated systems are limiting progress
- It’s hard to prove the Return on Investment that’s going to be achieved
- There are concerns over IT security and compliance
- It’s difficult to secure agreement between departments
But on top of these there’s a whole new set of challenges that businesses haven’t necessarily experienced before.
- The sheer volume of data that’s being generated
- Analysing the data that’s being generated
- Cyber security rather than just IT security
- Articulating the question you want the data to answer etc.
But, perhaps the most challenging of all is finding individuals who can analyse the data and make decisions that make a genuine difference to the business. We are seeing new skills gaps emerge.