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ISDIgital Business Podcast

Episode 1: First Steps, Right Steps

Miércoles, 22 Mayo, 2019

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Episode 1: First Steps, Right Steps  

ISDI PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Hello, and welcome to the ISDIgital Podcast, from ISDI

I’m Ian McMurray, International Content Specialist at ISDI

In this episode, I’ll be speaking to four world-leading experts on the digital transformation of business.

We’ll be looking at some of the pitfalls a company may encounter, why these problems may come about, and which areas of your business are critical in making sure the digital transformation of your company gets off on the right foot.

Our experts are all teachers on ISDI’s Global Executive Master in Digital Business.

They are::

Brie Moreau - Brie works with Crypto and other companies to help them dominate organic search rankings through content marketing and SEO.

Terry Hunter - Managing Director of Astound Commerce UK and Middle East & North Africa. Astound provide eCommerce strategy & business models.

Nick Hunn - Evangelising and developing wireless applications, Nick is CTO at WiFore in the UK.

Javier Rodriguez Zapatero - Executive Chairman & co-founder at ISDI, formerly Managing Director of Google Spain & Portugal

Now, in the sudden rush to digitalize that many companies may find themselves in in order to maintain a market share or perhaps in response to competitors, mistakes are inevitably made.

It may be that the focus is on the wrong area of business, or that the overall strategy is misguided or lacking the right type of support.

I asked our experts,

What are the biggest mistakes you see businesses make in their efforts to digitalize?

 

Brie Moreau

What are the biggest mistakes you see businesses make in their efforts to digitalize?

I think the biggest mistake that the companies make is they don't hire enough specialists - they generally higher a load of generalists in the field and it's very similar to being a doctor-  you know, just because you're a doctor doesn't mean you're a brain surgeon and it's quite common for companies to basically think because they have an IT department that they have you know everything under digital kind of control. I think that's the most important thing.

 

The second thing that I'd like to say is they don't really know what metrics they should be following and what a real, clear,  defined target is and a lot of companies think because they have, you know, an SEO team or a Facebook Ads team, that they basically think because

they're implementing something doesn't mean that necessarily they're actually achieving what they could be achieving and they don't know how to set goals properly in digital and that's very, very important, too.

 

Terry Hunter

What are the biggest mistakes you see businesses make in their efforts to digitalize?

I think historically the mistake has been not thinking ahead - not planning what's gonna happen in years to come. Which is easy to say because we didn't know what's gonna happen but a lot of

things have been quite short-sighted and reactive rather than strategically planned. Also, as business as a whole hasn't treated digital with as much respect as it should, it's been siloed off. It's been an initiative of group of people rather than being taken as a core part of the company. It's fair to say it's improved but that the legacy that we've seen from that still lives on. I did a session about two years back now, it's a while back, but we spent some time looking at what everyone was trying to achieve, which is omnichannel, and it became painfully apparent that

the biggest restriction was technology. So people had some ideas and plans around it but there just was no way to get what they wanted, because the technology was restrictive. Technology is improving. There's different ways of doing it now - more cost-effective ways - but it's still a limiting factor. In order to achieve what people want, and what I guess the end retailer wants and that’s what everyone is trying to achieve, it needs to go back to the drawing board. Think bigger, think wiser and take action now to achieve the potential that is out there.

 

Nick Hunn

What are the biggest mistakes you see businesses make in their efforts to digitalise?

I think the biggest mistake is not really knowing why they're doing it. There's certainly a trend at the moment of everybody thinking the digital transformation is the thing we have to do, rather than thinking how does it actually work with my business model? So the real mistake is not to know what you're doing, and there's an awful lot of cases of people just thinking I have to do this, I have to buy that package, I have to do what these consultants tell me, rather than understanding what does it do for your business. So you need people that can actually step back from the technology and think about how does it transform the business model, and it's not necessarily about can I do these clever things with eCommerce or the Internet of Things or artificial intelligence, it's just what's the next step that I can do with my business? Can it make them more efficient? Can I disrupt the whole of the business arena I'm working in? And don't get hung up on the fact of the technology.

It's all about evolution, and we look at a lot of digital transformation and people say it's really going to change the business, and they hold up companies like Amazon as the ones that have really taken on digital transformation, but if you look back a hundred and sort of twenty, a hundred and thirty years, most of rural America bought everything from a Sears catalog. It's not a very different model to what you have with Amazon. They just managed to use the whole of that digital platform and evolve it in order to largely just replicate what was happening a hundred years before. So I'd say to everybody that, forget the technology. Just think what you would like your business to do if you didn't have any barriers to it, and then see how digital technology can help you get there.

 

Javier Rodriguez Zapatero

What are the biggest mistakes you see businesses make in their efforts to digitalize?

Well I think, you you know, making a digital transformation, it's a hard task. It's not easy. I think the biggest mistake is considering that this is about technology and this is about understanding and implementing technology, and it is more about understanding that this is about people. This is about people getting into the new culture of becoming more flexible, more adaptive, and quicker. And the biggest mistakes are actually not accepting that the culture of the company and the management style needs to change and this is a task that needs to be achieved by the management and by the people in the company.

Of course when companies do take the decision to begin a transformation to digital, it’s not always plain sailing. Whether it’s adapting to new technology, new strategy or a new mindset, any number of things can go wrong. This is all part of any process of change. But with the foresight of planning and with the hindsight of mistakes already made by others, it is perhaps possible to avoid some of the major pitfalls.

I asked our experts

What are the most common pain points companies experience in shifting their business model to digital?

 

Brie Moreau

What are the most common pain points companies experience in shifting their business model to digital?

Basically it comes back to having specialists in the field and having clear metrics as well. It's very hard to hire talented people that know what they're talking about. If you were to hire a coder tomorrow and you don't write code how would you know that coder is good at what they do? It's very hard to know and it's very similar in digital unless you have experienced people to basically help you in the hiring process and acquisition process or consultants around you it's hard to know who's good and who's not good and the only way most companies find out that they've hired a poor-performing digital team is by getting external consultants or other people to look at the business and say hang on, this isn't done properly.

 

Nick Hunn

What are the most common pain points companies experience in shifting their business model to digital?

I think the the big pain point you often see is who is going to implement it, and the one thing you really need is an evangelist up a board level that believes totally in what you're doing. If you haven't got that vision there to drive it, then you tend to find companies are just bolting bits together and it really comes out with what you want. It's then taking it down through the business. I mean, there's a lot to be said for trying to get the whole of your company involved in this. Just listen to the people down at the shop floor as to what they're doing, what the issues are. They've often got the better ideas than the management teams of the little bits that will actually help, and if you can gather that, put it together, that's a really good way of taking a business forward. And it covers so many different angles and we've got everything from some large-scale manufacturing, up to distribution, supply chains.

There's different aspects of what you need that digital transformation to be, and don't assume that there is just one or two people that can tell you exactly what it is. You really need to go back and re understand the way your business works and then look at how you can actually transition that. And if necessary, be brave. I mean there are aspects where it will totally change your business. It'll totally change your workforce. There's others where it's just going to add efficiency to it. So you don't know whether it's going to just streamline what you're doing or totally disrupt the whole of your business sector, but think about it in that whole. It's really important that you again just understand what you're doing. Involve everybody, as if the bulk of the company resents it, it's not going to work.

 

Javier Rodriguez Zapatero

What are the most common pain points companies experience in shifting their business model to digital?

I think there's various pain points. There are people, I mean the first one probably is, you know, the change that needs to be done at the leadership level. That's that's a pain point, because you know leaders get older and they have more aversion to change They don't like to change, so they need to be adapted to this new way of managing the situation and that's a pain point. Then once that is covered the second pain point is basically understanding the technology needs to be implemented and it doesn't work necessarily the first time, So it is painful to actually change what you have and go to new platforms that are more flexible on cloud. That requires a change in people and a change in the structure, and that's normally really, really painful for companies.


 

Q3  Innovation is often cited as the driving force behind changes to business, be it in terms of the technology employed in the customer journey, or completely disrupting a marketplace with a new approach to providing value. But innovation can be difficult. We may find that we’ve been barking up the wrong tree, or innovation may prove to be somewhat elusive.

I asked our experts

In what areas do you think business leaders currently lack innovation?

 

Javier Rodriguez Zapatero

In what areas do you think business leaders currently lack innovation?

Well I think there's not a particular area in which business leaders lack innovation. I mean, innovation is something that basically consists in changing the way you do things to create new results, and that happens everywhere. Innovation is not in an area, it’s in people and there are some people that are not innovative at all, and there are people that are not innovative enough, and if you have leaders that are innovative, that innovation applies to every area in the organization.

 

Brie Moreau

In what areas do you think business leaders currently lack innovation?

Business leaders lack innovation in basically failing because a lot of businesses, depending on the size, are quite scared to fail and in failure is where you get your most successes and that's where you learn quickly you need to iterate quickly and with a lot of companies that we see it's the kind of larger companies and they don't like taking risks or they don't feel like they want to rock the boat and and this obviously stifles innovation and it's important because the companies that are successful in digital basically very, very fast innovators and iterate very quickly and this is how you become successful this is how the small companies outgrow the big companies all the time.

 

Nick Hunn

In what areas do you think business leaders currently lack innovation? (4:12)

I suppose the easy answer to that is innovation. It's just the comfort of continuing to do what you've always done. Just having small incremental developments on a sort of annual basis to make you think you're moving forward, and not allowing those big thoughts in. I mean, big thoughts are horribly disruptive because they’ve got the potential to break your business as well as to make the business, and a lot of company to just don't actually have the guts to go out and do some of this, or do it piecemeal. So the ones that do it and do it well are the ones that just grasp it ;go out there and say yes, let's do it. You can find the technical skills most of the time and there's not a lack of people out there with the knowledge. It's do you actually have the ideas and the vision about what you want to do. As if you've got those, then you can put the pieces together, and you need to get everybody on board to make that happen. And again, I'm repeating some of those same things. It's you just need to make sure everybody believes in it and do it and that's the biggest challenge. I think most of the skills you can pick up, and I think the whole additional transformation, the Internet of Things, you will need new skills you don't have in your company. I mean, that's a taken-for-granted fact that you won't have all of those. So there's the need to accept that and to bring those on board. It's not a good idea to try and do everything yourself from scratch because you probably won't get it right.

 

Terry Hunter

In what areas do you think business leaders currently lack innovation?

I think the desire is there. I think everyone is getting it now. I think people are seeing what could be done and are they putting enough time into really forward-thinking. When you get out to a board sometimes they're not there, and with your business all around the world, some regions are better than others. Some places are moving quicker than others. A lot of people are quite scared of what's coming along and worrying about it, and other people who've got the head in the sand, still thinking that they can carry on the way they are. So there's a broad spectrum out there. What we're seeing, I do see some interesting things where somebody who's run ecommerce becomes the head of a business let's not forget in a lot of places, and I deal mainly with retail, in a lot of places there's a lot of other things that need to be considered, all the way through from design for supply chain and everything for running a normal business. So I wouldn't say that's always the answer but certainly, a pretty high pegging of somebody looking after your digital, and somebody who's got a serious voice out there at the board should be included.


 

OK, so we can learn from the past mistakes that others have made in their efforts to digitalise, just as we can avoid the common pain points that many seem to encounter. Equally, we can see that innovation is an asset, and one that we need to ensure is available right the way through the structure of our company, from the kind of tech we choose to employ, right up to the kind of thinking done by the directors. But if transformation needs to take place on all levels, it can at first be tricky to know just where to focus our efforts.

I asked our experts

What one area would you recommend business address most urgently to aid their digital transformation?

 

Nick Hunn

What one area would you recommend business address most urgently to aid their digital transformation?

In a way, you need to bring the technology and a comfort level with technology in, and we get a lot of technophobia today. I mean both in the media and that filters through into business. But people say well, AI is going to take all of my jobs, and lots of other ones about it's too difficult, we can't do this, we haven't gotten the right skill sets. So I think that's something that you need to get through. That again is part of the engagement. If you can get most of your company involved in it, talking about it, thinking about it and comfortable with it, you're more likely to push it through. So it's those same ones that you keep on saying. It's not so much about technology, it's about business models and engagement of the workforce in your company. To make sure everybody believes in what you're doing and then go and do it. Or if necessary, and we've seen this in some cases, I mean IBM did it when they sort of brought the PC out. Just create a new company to do it if you feel that the strictures of your existing organization won't let it happen. So make that environment where innovation can thrive, and it shouldn't necessarily be something that's just about digital transformation. A good company's going to do that anyway, but the bigger your company often the more difficult that is to do.

 

Terry Hunter

What one area would you recommend business address most urgently to aid their digital transformation?

The thing I'm seeing is the restriction from technology to achieve what they want and so rather than keep siloing things try and think holistically about bringing everything together and look at the long term vision and planning. there's a lot of good technologies out there, but can you bring them together to make a really good solution and for you to achieve your aim which is I guess be a destination, be a place that your customers want to come to rather than just think of it as you're trying to sell something online or reach out to somebody online or talk to them digitally it's trying to bring the whole thing together so it's a real digital journey linked in with your retail, with your advertising; everything in one place, really.

 

Brie Moreau

What one area would you recommend business address most urgently to aid their digital transformation?

Hiring talent. Hiring talent is the most important thing and having a cohesive team. These are the two areas that we find that um there's a kind of an issue. It’s basically hiring really qualified people and building a team that actually is successful and that works well together. You can hire the best rock stars in the business but if they can’t work together as a team it's always a problem. And with this problem as well you also see growth as an issue, because you if you start to grow quickly in digital you're just constantly hiring and hiring and then the quality of the applicants tends to drop because you can't hire the quality staff at the right rate and this is obviously an issue. So hire slowly and fire quickly is probably the shortest answer there.

 

Javier Rodriguez Zapatero

What one area would you recommend business address most urgently to aid their digital transformation?

That's a good question because, area, I mean it depends. It depends on the company. There's some companies that would need to probably go digital with their marketing. They would need to go digital with their customer relationship management. But I think the area that needs to go digital first is management, and I've been very, very, probably obsessed with this. But if you're talking about areas, the leadership, the CEO of the company and its team, and his team or her team, they are the ones as an area that need to be activated first.

Outro

We hope you’ve enjoyed listening to the ISDIgital podcast from ISDI

This episode was presented and produced by Ian McMurray

Please subscribe to listen to our upcoming episodes

To learn more about this and other digital topics, and for more information on ISDI’s Global Executive Master in Digital Business and other programs, visit ISDI.education. That's, I.S.D.I dot education.

 

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