Digital Transformation: easy to say, hard to do

WHERE WE’VE BEEN

social business design

Technology

  • Mobile devices are more powerful than ever, but Moore’s law has plateaued and Apple and other manufacturers are seeing upgrade cycles slow down. A decade ago you might have been hanging on to your Blackberry for the full physical keyboard; today you’re hanging on to your iPhone 7 or 8 because new features aren’t enticing.
  • Broadband connectivity at home is widely available, leading to mass adoption of smart home technology. Searching online for knowledge used to mean opening a web browser on your desktop computer and typing words into a search engine. Now Alexa and Siri are a conversation away from completing your quest for knowledge.
  • The cost of physical data storage has gotten as close to zero as profitably possible. Conference tchotchke USB drives used to be so awesome, with 4 or even 8 MB of storage. Now you can get 5 GB of free cloud storage along with your mobile device that could land an Apollo spacecraft on the moon.

Society

  • Online sharing has become commonplace and some people have made a living out of the practice. Ask kids today what they want to be when they grow up and many will answer, “a YouTuber.” Social media isn’t just for sharing consumer service frustrations and conference updates; it’s how the world gets its breaking political, economic, and entertainment news.
  • Millennials have not only entered the workplace; in many cases they’re running the show. The oldest millennials are almost 40 years old and carry expectations for their work and world around them, which may not align with institutions that are grounded in the values and beliefs of a different generation. The result has been cultural change; witness #MeToo and Brexit.
  • “It’s not information overload…it’s filter failure.” This groundbreaking insight from Clay Shirky in 2008 describes how the internet’s minimal cost for publishing and distribution resulted in too much irrelevant information online. Now we have filter failure of an entirely different sort – our newsfeeds are finely tuned to provide very narrow streams of content that are personalised, monetised, and politicised.

Work

  • When we thought through social business design in 2008, the world was bottoming out in the Great Recession. Since then, we’ve seen a historic bull market run and collateralised debt obligations have returned. Fewer businesses are operating with a burning platform but those that are – e.g. UK retailers with widespread physical presences – discover that underinvestment in social business design was a mistake, as new market entrants are more closely connected to consumers and winning in the new world.
  • The open office plan has been exposed for its true purpose: cost-savings. New studies show that productivity and employee dissatisfaction drop in open floor plan offices. Startups didn’t have or want to spend money on the non-essentials, so they went with open space. Enterprises spin the open plan as collaborative and agile, but walk around an open office in New York or London and you’ll see the majority of workers wearing headphones – it’s because open offices kill productivity. Save money on hard costs, lose more on soft costs.
  • Long live email! Email used to be maligned as the place knowledge goes to die, but lives on due to regulatory requirements, budget constraints, and unwillingness to change. Messaging apps like WhatsApp, Kakao, and Discord play an important supporting role, even if not officially supported by the IT department.

WHERE ARE WE NOW?

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

  • How do we create and sustain competitive advantage?
  • What unique capabilities do we have?
  • How can we manage financial commitments?
  • What do we do and not do?
  • What is our timing?

London, Part 2

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      Here’s a tip: tipping may not be expected, but it’s quite common.

    • It seems that many of the service workers in Britain aren’t British.

    • Not-so-special deliveries.

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    • Has brick-and-mortar retail been impacted? You bet.

    • Sorry, some things haven’t changed, thank you.

Quick take on what’s hot in digital right now

    • AI

    • Voice

    • Video

    • Personal data

    • Types of Reality

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June 2015, on stage at Cannes Lions

Any lessons learned?

  • Like other people who’ve done this, I can tell you that it keeps everything simple. Fewer decisions to make; it’s easier to get out the door in the morning or pack for business trips.
  • The same clothes don’t fit so well if you put on weight — I don’t need a scale to tell me that I should eat fewer bagels.
  • I do try to wear a different pair of shoes every day. I once met a podiatrist who told me that shoes need a day to regain their cushioning. So I’ve rotated every day ever since.
  • If people care about what I wear to work, no one’s saying anything about it. I haven’t heard a word about this for three years and counting!

Expatriates and the Patriots

  • You often pay for consumer service calls.

  • You can usually withdraw money from any ATM without a fee.

  • The tax year starts on 6 April.

  • You need an annual £145.50 ($180) TV license.

  • Mobile phone pricing is competitive.

  • Transferwise is the best option for normal people to transfer money across borders.

  • Contactless payments are a thing.