By Alex Jarett
One of the biggest “Macro” trends is the shift to the Digital Enterprise. In my last article, we discussed what the “Digital Enterprise” meant to our keynote panel from our 2015 Technology Innovation & Leadership Summit. (See article here)
The panel was moderated by Jim Vaselopulos, VP at PSC Group and included the following Senior Technology Executives: Tim Daniels, CIO at Merieux NutriSciences Corporation, Tim Dickson, VP of Front Office Solutions at Motorola Solutions, Inc, Todd Spight, VP of IT at Smalley Steel Ring, and Nikhil Torsekar, Director, Data and Information Management at HSBC.
Jim asked the panel what they felt were the key factors to driving this change to the Digital Enterprise. They each had some very key insights to share, based upon their unique situation and objective for their organization.
Here are some key insights offered by our panel:
Nikhil Torsekar, HSBC
Nikhil felt that the main success factor was working with people, and not just leading with the technology. People determine the success or failure – not the technology.
There’s a misconception that technology is sort of the tail that wags the dog. Basically, that the technology is the really important thing and that’s definitely not the case in my experience.
You really have to look at the people factor, you really have to look at how this is disrupting the fabric of the organization that you’re coming into.
How are people’s jobs going to be impacted, are they going to have jobs as a result of this technology? You have to understand what you are asking them to do and why.
You can’t just say there’s a new sheriff in town you better get on board or else. That kind of rhetoric gets them into compliance in the short term, but in the long run they won’t stick around.
Tim Daniels, Merieux NutriSciences Corporation
Tim discussed two different initiatives.
When NutriSciences developed their first mobile product, they changed the way that they approached the project from an IT perspective. Traditionally, they would hire developers to get the job done. In this project, they partnered with an agile based organization combined with a boot camp for their own, new employees to work in a co-development mode. As a result they were able to deliver a quality product very quickly.
The second project was much more involved, the launching of a completely new business, an information as a business service. In this project, the key thing was creating a separate business unit with dedicated IT resources embedded in it for that business.
Todd Spight, Smalley Steel Ring
Todd is a strong IT and Business leader with a deep technical background. He has completely restructured his entire team to take on new initiatives, which to me is the number one success factor for Todd and his team. They are very vertically integrated, and are a true engineering firm. As example, they built the machines that make their products.
Todd stressed Leadership, Showing Value and Showing Short Wins as all key to moving projects, forward.
He also stressed the importance of Technical Leaders understanding the Technology!
Be prepared and do the research so that we can actually achieve the objective when it’s time. Timing is very important when it comes to leadership.
What I like about Todd’s approach is his willingness to lead as the Technology expert who is also clearly a business leader.
A lot of what we talk about from technology goes over our peers heads so having the problem very clear is key.
Todd makes it a point that he and his team speak in business language, and not just in technical language.
Tim Dickson, Motorola Solutions
As a new leader at Motorola Solutions Tim is taking what he calls an “outside-in” approach to creating change. As Tim says,
It’s an innovative approach using new frameworks and technologies and things of that nature. It might not be new to the industry but it’s new to Motorola and that itself is leadership in my perspective.
Tim first brings a strategy of involvement and research with their clients as the start of new initiatives. He mentioned both spending time in “day-in-a-life “ exercises and 90 days in interviewing 40-50 clients as two key success factors.
Spending the day in the life of our internal business units as well as our external customers has been a perspective that we brought in from that point of view. Sitting down and putting yourself in place of the customer and watching them and videotaping them and audio taping them has been a big part of the new approach I’ve brought in.
Tim also points to the need to invest in talent that has the new skills.
Investment in talent is absolutely critical in the digital age because you might not have the people to do what your customers want you to do or what you want to do. Look at the landscape of your team and your organization and say:
Who can be potentially trained.
Where might we have to go on the outside or partner with vendors.
Or hire new folks from industry to provide that level of subject expertise.
Finally – Tim and his team take an interactive approach to development and keep the customer involved.
On an interim basis we create some type of technical prototype, sandbox, some environment that as a team they can continue to touch and use and also provide to users as sort of a model and feedback mechanism for them to touch and use.
IN CLOSING, I’d like to leave you with Todd’s closing statement, which is both insightful and inspiring:
You will need collaboration with your partners at the executive level. The understanding of what the business wants to do as it relates to digitization has to be agreed-upon….How do we see ourselves conducting business 10 to 15 to 20 years from now?
Realize there are no standards for what we are talking about right now. It will take some decisions on your part. …What I’m really trying to stress with you is this is not something simple. This is a great leap. This is the information age.