We don’t need a digital strategy; we need a business strategy for the digital era: Richard Davies, International SOS
On 27/28 September I was pleased to host a two day visit to London by Professor Venkat Venkatraman of Boston University Questrom School of Business, one of the world’s leading researchers and commentators on digital transformation. Venkat was over to announce and launch two important national initiatives for UK plc. Each of these linked initiatives is based on Venkat’s concept of the digital matrix.
The Digital Matrix
Published by Lifetree in 2017, The Digital Matrix is a powerful exposition of the forces that are driving digital transformation across the world and challenging every business to re-think its position and re-invent itself for the digital era.
The future of every industry is digital and that future is closer than we think. The digital matrix is a brilliantly simple tabulation of the how the forces driving the change are manifesting in today’s confusion to give us a totally transformed business world in a few short years.
In 2007 there was only 1 technology company in the Fortune 500 top 10. Today the top 5 are digital technology businesses and by next year this is likely to be 9 of the top 10. The unprecedented growth and influence of these digital giants is changing the business landscape for all of us. By 2025 every business of scale in any industry will have to be digital root and branch.
The message to today’s business leaders is stark: recreate your business strategy for the digital era or die. The matrix gives you a template for reliably measuring where your business is on its transformation journey and whether you are behind or ahead of your peers. Equally important it reflects how effectively your business is adjusting to the reality of new competition from the digital giants and the thousands of digital start-ups, the disruptors, who are flagrantly disregarding the rules of your game and the limits of your creativity in the relentless pursuit of your lunch.
The UK National Digital Transformation Benchmarks
So where are you on the journey? The UK National Digital Transformation Benchmark will help you to locate your position and navigate your route through the template of the Digital Matrix.
- The business imperatives of digital transformation are experimentation, collision, and re-invention, and you must ensure that you are addressing all three of these at all times.
- You must learn to respond to threats and opportunities through co-opetition with other organisations far more quickly and effectively than today to continue your business success.
- You must be permanently active in effective ecosystems at all phases of your transformation and beyond to give your business the best chance of continuing success.
The rewards are great; the price of failure is equally great. Your first need is to figure out where you stand.
With the critical help and support of Professor Venkatraman, PA Consulting and Savanna Executive Search we have created a detailed self-assessment survey that will enable you to position where your business is, from your professional role perspective. This will be different and differently informed depending on your role and degree of engagement with the coming changes. No-one individual will have the whole picture. An HR director will have a different view from a finance director but both are valid and important to your business response. A CIO or CTO may have a more detailed understanding of the technologies involved but this is not only about technology; it is about the need for new business strategy in response to a transforming marketplace that is powered by all manner of technology influences. You need all of it.
Comparing your differing functional perspectives will allow you to find gaps and omissions in your shared understanding of where you are to inform how you need to proceed, specifically to respond to emerging opportunities and threats and to participate in or orchestrate the ecosystems that will best support you.
Similarly, by comparing the varied responses of organisations in the same industry sectors, we can develop an informed view of each and where the norms are. By publishing aggregated details of norms and best in class we’ll be able to provide you with important benchmarks for comparison, and a far more accurate understanding of your position relative to others in your sector and others who may be eying it up.
If we stick to our plan we’ll have the first of these benchmarks available in January 2018, and by continuing the work through 2019 and 2020 we should be able to see the national dial moving as the FTSE proceeds through the business changes demanded by the digital era. This is the ultimate value of the UK National Digital Transformation Benchmark.
Once armed with your self-assessments and our published benchmarks you will have a much better sense of whether you are approaching the challenge of transformation effectively. Your use of these resources and activities will then be greatly enhanced by access to independently certified, digital transformation mentors able to peer review your understanding and response to bring an external perspective to your situation and progress.
We are committed to building this cadre of certified, independent digital transformation mentors and we are looking for candidates now. This is the second of the initiatives we launched with Professor Venkatraman on 28 September.
Digital Transformation Mentoring
We are not starting from scratch. Within CIO Development and with the close support of Savannah Executive Search we have already built a mentoring community of around 200 senior executives from close to 100 FTSE businesses, most of them from corporate technology functions. A growing subset of this community is already actively employed in various aspects of digital transformation work. These will form the kernel of our new digital mentoring capability.
We have also run digital “conversion” academy programmes for over 60 corporate IT leaders to help them to maintain and assure their skills in leading corporate technology as this expands and changes to accommodate emerging digital business strategies. Many of these, and other technology leaders, now have responsibilities for growing digital teams in traditional business. With relatively little extra development these proven leaders can be tutored in Digital Matrix concepts and the use of the template to diagnose blind spots and blockages in their transformation journeys.
Every business needs to make this transformation in business strategy for the digital era. Skills are short and the need is great. With the guidance and support of the Digital Matrix you can ensure that your organisation’s response is comprehensive and effective. With the skills of a digital transformation mentor you can educate and bring others along with you on this journey.
At the start of the business computing revolution we used to say “if you’re not part of the solution you are part of the problem.” Don’t remain a part of the problem. We have made becoming a certified digital transformation mentor straightforward for corporate professionals.