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2018 Deadline For Digital Transformation

Joel Thomson December 12, 2017

Last Friday I presented on a panel at the 2017 Pivot Summit; this article captures the thoughts I shared and provides a little insight into this fabulous home-grown event.

Pivot Summit is in its third year and going from strength to strength. The event brings Australian and international thought leaders together to share insights on the future of digital technology and its impact on how we work, live and think.

The quality of the event, the speakers and organisation are world-class. This year the headline speaker was Apple’s co-founder, Steve Wozniak. ‘Woz’, along with Steve Jobs, founded Apple Computers in 1976. Interviewed by Monty Hamilton Woz shared a few new insights about his experience with the iPhone X and his thoughts on Face ID vs Touch ID. Woz also offered up a few anecdotes about his years working with Steve Jobs.

Our panel focused on business change and digital transformation; specifically our experiences in 2017, the business drivers, the challenges, and some predictions for 2018. I have added some additional detail and some insights from research.

I was asked, as a digital practitioner at the heart of business transformation, what patterns of change I had seen this year. I started by recognising that change is the constant pattern we see; exponential, unprecedented, disrupting almost every industry in every country.

I think what we have seen this year more than ever is a growing divide between the leaders and those slow to change and act on digital transformation. It has been happening for some time, but the gap and risk are suddenly very apparent.

At SalesPreso we are either working with the innovators or helping the slow-starters to make progress; either way, we are all committed to transformation around a clear plan. However, we do meet many companies amid disruption or ripe for it, that still think its okay to sit on the fence, and play catch-up later. Importantly ‘catch-up’ will mean:

  • Adding new technology, like a silver bullet
  • Hiring one or two external guns and tasking them with reinvention
  • Acquiring companies that are more ‘digital.’

We know from experience that companies who employ such strategies will fail if they have not yet made the cultural and behavioural shift to innovate and change.

Transformation is not an easy task. IDC has reported in 2017 that there have been signs that firms are struggling to adapt. Strategies often fail, are cancelled or have to be scaled back.

Interestingly those companies we see dragging their heels make a noise about their innovation credentials. However, innovation for them means experimenting with strategies and technologies, invariably hived-off into initiatives and spaces called ‘hubs’ and ‘labs’, while the primary business operates as usual. We see this as pretending to innovate and change. As a mature startup, we are always looking for like-minded and equally committed clients, so we avoid the pretenders however big the opportunity seems.

I think the challenge for these businesses, is what happens while they wait.

Digital transformation tends to take between three and six years to achieve. Companies evaluating strategies today may have already lost the race to lead, or even to take a position.

Companies that are successful in digital transformation are not just the year or two, but light years ahead of their counterparts. In fact, today’s leading companies are not only moving forward; they are exploiting their advantage, increasingly competing on their digital competence and data resources.

My main point was this; digital transformation is not just taking off, it has taken off. To extend the analogy, those who were not on board are not only left behind; they may never make it.

If they do get there, their competitors will own the destination.

We were asked to close the session by each providing a prediction for 2018; I returned to my theme. I think 2018 will be a year of reckoning for those that have held on too long pretending to innovate, or have tried to bootstrap their way through transforming their business. It is an uncomfortable time to be one of those companies; but it is also an exciting time to be a business actively committed to change. Arguably even more so for a business such as ours, an agent of change.

I recommend you review the Pivot Twitter feed to see more of the day’s speakers and hear from the audience.

Pivot Summit is planned to grow into a multi-day, multi-site event incorporating digital and interactive film, music and exhibitions, entrepreneurial innovation, idea generation and creative collaboration. I highly recommend you put it on your calendar for 2018.

Special thanks:

Dr Krystal Evans – CEO, BioMelbourne Network

Mei Doery – Founder, Convenory

Andrew Jones – Co-Founder, G2 Innovation

Samantha Krajina – Founder, Geelong Women in Business

Cameron Birrell – Design Director / Strategy, Fluid

Kirsty Whitehead – Events Manager, Perfect Events

Leighton Wells – Founder, Pivot Summit

This article was first published on LinkedIn.