Digital transformation deserves better than a buzzword and a marketing concept...

It is often associated with long, expensive and hazardous projects led by big consultancy firms, as well as expensive and (vastly) under-utilised technology. It should not be so.

 

I have helped deliver digital transformations fast and with a limited cost. I am pleased to share practical tips from 10 years hands-on experience with international companies, so that your company too can thrive in the digital world.

 

Tip #1: understanding the digital ethos

The irony in the digital world is that we, people, live and breathe digital in our everyday lives, when we shop online, exchange with friends and family on Facebook, check in on our smartphones, pay our taxes online… However, understanding the implications of how companies can grow in our everyday digital reality is clearly a different challenge when we put our corporate hat on.

The digital ethos is about:

 
  1. nurturing your customers’ satisfaction, by delivering a seamless experience and active communication with them.

  2. executing flawlessly on your brand promises.

The digital ethos is also about constant improvement, learning and outward looking, to keep up with a fast changing market.

 

Tip #2: digital transformation is all about the customer

I disagree with the idea that loyalty has gone.

Indeed the success of the GAFA is a story of strong loyalty driven by remarkable products:

  • Google as a search engine dominates as it is simply the most relevant and constantly tests and invests to stay so.

  • Amazon got me in because of their wide inventory, perfect delivery and impressive customer service.

Customers are loyal to those companies because they trust them. The improvements brought by those companies are based on a systematic test and learn approach, which is a form of automatic listening to the customers even without them noticing.

The market research I did for my customers consistently showed me that branded terms drive a clear majority of the search traffic in most verticals. Customers care very much about Brands, and traditional advertising (TV, radio…) is still very powerful.

However, to be relevant, Brands have to ensure that they keep their customers satisfied, by addressing any pain points, poor execution or bad customer service experience.

The customer feedback is also a priceless opportunity to improve their offering and innovate relevantly: the customer is the real asset for most Brands, shame that so few companies have customer KPIs in their CEO scorecard or annual report.

 

Tip #3: digital transformation is all about the staff

Can you name a great Brand with poor staff morale? You cannot sustain a successful business if you don’t build a strong team who feel proud of their company, are strong advocates, and are ready to work beyond 9 to 5 on projects which they are excited about. Your staff also need to be genuine customers of the company (don’t force them), providing them with this healthy external view of their own company.

It is also a great time to fully recognise the value of the operation and customer service staff:

  1. they are the face of the company and have a decisive influence on the customer perception.

  2. they are the eyes and ears of the company and can provide some essential feedback.

The operation staff understand the details of how the products and services are delivered and will have a critical input in opportunities to improve the service more relevantly than any external organisation consultancy firm. They need to be nurtured and engaged.

The staff culture will bring you the digital ethos. You might still need to complement your core team with digital talent, or coach your team how to do digital by bringing interim staff to develop the process and transfer the skills.

 

Tip #4: a digital transformation is data driven

Every sperm is sacred laughed Monty Python.

In digital, so is every interaction and every item of spend as they form the basis of actionable insights to make better decisions across the company: how can we drive retention, how can we increase satisfaction, where can we invest profitably, which are the pain points we need to address, where should we focus our attention?

The issue is that before you know it, you can be drowning in data. This is one of the biggest challenge companies face: how to effectively “gold pan” your digital data? To solve it, you need to combine 3 skills which don’t come together often:

  1. business acumen (you need to understand what the business is about as well the economics of revenues and costs by product, customer and channel).

  2. digital proficiency (understand the digital levers and prioritise them based on the former).

  3. data wizardry (how to quickly and then consistently provide the right information to execute the key processes).

This is very much my speciality, passion and business; and I am really proud to have seen businesses do a fast turn again whilst cutting on their marketing addictions, by focusing on those areas that mattered.

 

Tip #5: a digital transformation is all about the culture

Combine the previous tips, and you start getting the picture of what a digitally transformed company looks like. They are:

  1. customer-centric as opposed to inward looking.

  2. fact based rather than opinion based (let alone hipo Highest Income Person Opinion based).

  3. information is shared and connected rather than standing in silos.

  4. they favour collective intelligence rather than ego.

It is a strong team culture where the energy is focused on collectively beating the outside competition.

 

Tip #6: it starts from the top

The digital transformation needs to touch all the parts of the organisation, cut across silos and foster a sharing culture. It cannot just happen or be contained to a specific team or department.

No digital transformation can happen unless they are sponsored by the CEO, and the C suite embraces the digital ethos: the C suite creates the cohesion by setting a compelling vision, and embodies the company values by leading by example.

 

Tip #7: it is not about technology, even less about money

Obviously, having modern tools such as analytics, CRM tools, ability to gather customer feedback and act on it, investing effectively in marketing is important, and technology can support companies execution very effectively.

However, none of the internet stars was ever created by hiring hundreds of big 6 consultants, or splashing money on expensive technology: digital transformation projects relying on technological promises will fail more often than not.

The focus on technology misses the digital ethos and culture dimension, they move the focus away from daily execution and absorb precious management and staff bandwidth: very often, process improvement generates better benefits than new developments.

Technology led projects also pay themselves by reducing staff, sometimes at the detriment of customer service or operational excellence.

Money is even more questionable as the technology is increasingly cheap as it evolves very fast: investing a lot in a tool which can be obsolete by the time it is implemented is not always very effective.

 

Tip #8: there is no silver bullet

Companies are bombarded by the latest tool which can turn around the business in the blink of an eye: I have got news for you, there is no magic wand or silver bullet.

You as management of the business and only you own the future success of the company, by proper planning and mobilising your workforce. We can help you there, using simple but effective audit and planning methods to identify your key areas of focus, and developing effective plans and processes accordingly.

This is really my business: help businesses see the wood for the tree, and bring people together around a compelling project. More Dumbledore than Harry Potter, really.

 

Tip #9: you need to focus on what you are best at, and work with trusted partners

There are very few pure digital or technological companies. Whether you are a travel agent, an airline, a retailer or a law firm, your company has a clear product and services proposition, and customers will keep on working with you based on the quality and consistency of those products and services, and how well you treat them. Period.

In a fast changing and highly technical data and digital world, it is hard to hire and retain individuals and build strong teams from scratch. Competition is high, and you also need to give their fair share of daily challenge to individual who are motivated by problem solving.

It is also very difficult to build a pragmatic but effective digital architecture to support your business. The good news is that we can help you on both aspects, recommending and implementing simple, effective tools which will not break the bank but deliver high value. We also train your people to look at the data they need to constantly improve the company performance.

 

Tip #10: it is beautifully simple

You just realise that digital transformation is a new name for business re-engineering, or no more than a reformulation on how best to create a business for the long term.

It is about developing a compelling customer proposition, focusing on the execution and customer service, communicating effectively (Brand is really the formulation of the company proposition), underpinned by a great company culture based on facts, trust and accountability.

Having done this a few times now for small, medium and big companies, I will be delighted to help your business thrive.

I cannot recommend enough the read of the attached article: http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/the-ten-deadly-mistakes-of-wanna-dots. What is still baffling me is how fresh and accurate it is despite dating back to … 2001, yes, that’s right, 16 years ago and counting.

Rorie Devine

I am an inveterate Interim CIO ¦ CTO and the author of The CTO ¦ CIO Bible (#1 rated CTO book on Amazon) and How To Be A Hero CIO ¦ CTO (#1 rated CTO course on Udemy). I write about big ideas and share leadership stories that make you go “A Ha!”

My work has been described as a new genre of leadership advice…it’s based on unrivalled experience, genuine credentials, wisdom distilled down into 100’s chunks of actionable insights and even the odd bit of humour…

Some people don’t agree with what I say. Other people say I changed their career. Why not read/watch/listen and decide for yourself?!?

   85% 5 Stars CTO ¦ CIO Bible eBook & Book

The #1 rated CIO ¦ CTO Udemy & THINKIFIC Course

Fi
Fi
Ticks all the key elements...
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I loved this book although the first few pages initially caught me on the back foot as it is so different from what we are used to. Rorie has pulled together all the major elements of outstanding IT management and delivery by referencing the source material with his own explanation of why it is useful. So this is truly a read which lets you tick the boxes you already worked on and see what else might be useful out there. Personally I found it highly energising and a great read, I hope you do too.
Hutch
Hutch
Insightful and an easy to read
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I’m not a CTO or a CIO but I work closely with many that hold those positions, and this book has given me a wonderful insight into their world, the challenges they face and strategies/tactics they can deploy to be great. The book is easy to read and digest and incredibly informative. Thank you Rorie!
Thomas Kiessling
Thomas Kiessling
A great cookbook
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I highly recommend this book for both CTOs/CIOs at the beginning of their career and for experienced technology leaders on a quest to continuously improve and re-calibrate themselves. The method of the book is to distil decades of experiences into simple learnings. It’s a cookbook. It creates a mental grid of domains and principles for a technology leader to succeed. It also provides entry points to deepen your knowledge in specific subjects, always pointing back to the larger context. Well done. Fun to read.
LWS
LWS
A Fantastic Go-to guide
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Very interesting book which provides you with key advice as to how to manage your company and teams as a CTO or CIO. It is solution-focussed. It’s easy to read and can be read in any order. So if you need to know something quick, it’s a great go-to guide. The good thing is that it works on key aspects of management and provides you with fast and straight-to-the-point advice. Highly recommend to professionals with little time on their daily schedules who need a book which they can consult quickly to find a solution or improvement to their current situation.
Mr. Faisal Ahmed
Mr. Faisal Ahmed
Really insightful
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Easy to read in a complex world full of buzz words, really recommend this to anyone in the business field. Cannot wait for a follow up book.
Jonathon Moore
Jonathon Moore
Super!
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Bucketloads of great insight across the full spectrum of product development. A great read for product and engineering leaders alike.
Roseland
Roseland
Very readable
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A very easy to read and digest book that gives lots of tips and ideas for how to make a high impact in a positive way as quickly as possible. Not a technical book, but one of leadership, relationships and how to add value. A definite must for the library
Martin King
Martin King
Thinking from an expert!
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Clear and concise advice for people that already have a lot of the building blocks in place. The book offers plenty of critical thinking from a seasoned expert. Thanks Rorie!
Mr. S. Edwards
Mr. S. Edwards
Wisdom for busy execs
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I loved the simple, concise format of this book. Full of bite sized wisdom and instant takeaways to 'try now'. Rather than a massive tome of boring management theory, busy execs can read this book on a train journey and get instant value. Highly recommended.
manub
manub
Actionable leadership tips
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I've had the pleasure to work with Rorie and I was looking forward to read his book. I wasn't disappointed! The format may not be liked by everybody as more than narrative it's a series of tips, however I find the insights very helpful. On some topics I have slightly different views but Rorie gets his argument through explaining why he's giving those tips, based on his 20 years experience. Definitely a good read.
Alex Farr
Alex Farr
CIO UK Top 100
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An essential read for any #CIO or #CTO in 2020. Authored by the extremely talented Rorie Devine, the book gives the mission, objectives, strategies and tactics needed to succeed. It may even contain a small contribution from yours truly...
Oliver Bayes-Shelton
Oliver Bayes-Shelton
CTO
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Great book by Rorie Devine, I always enjoy reading things by peers! "The CTO ¦ CIO Bible: The Mission Objectives Strategies And Tactics Needed To Be A Super Successful CTO ¦ CIO"
Eoin Woods
Eoin Woods
CTO at Endava
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Interesting new ebook from Rorie Devine on how to be an effective #CIO based on his experience in the role and also working as an interim, seeing inside many organisations. Structured into bite-size pieces for easy digestion!
Michael O'Gorman
Michael O'Gorman
CTO/VP Engineering
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Just read CTO ¦ CIO Bible by Rorie Devine - great valuable insights by very experienced CTO - must read for all current and aspiring CTO’s/CIO’s - great job Rorie Devine
Artur Grabowski
Artur Grabowski
Technical Director
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Some really good tips and advice in "CTO | CIO Bible" by Rorie Devine. Definitely worth reading by anyone involved in a technology leadership role.
Nikos Kryvossidis
Nikos Kryvossidis
CTO at Racing Post
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A very interesting book has just been published by Rorie Devine => http://bit.ly/CTOCIOBible Highly recommended!
Ian Woosey
Ian Woosey
CIO Clarion Housing
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Some really excellent thoughts in here, well worth a read by anyone involved in a technology leadership role. Thanks Rorie.
Rich Phillips
Rich Phillips
Consulting CTO
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Not a long book but, packed with sound advice and tips from the author's own deep and varied experience as a consulting CTO. Reading a book cannot make a person a great CTO or CIO, but a good one like this can certainly help put the aspiring professional on the right path, act as a starting point for further research, and help avoid the common pitfalls.
Louise
Louise
CEO Energy Trading
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Found this book really helpful. Lots of ideas and advice that got me thinking as well as practical examples of successful strategies and advice on how to manage complicated projects. Highly recommended.
Loana Wurzel
Loana Wurzel
COO
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Brilliant! Fantastic insight into what it takes to be a successful CTO or CIO. I love the way it is set up in easy to read sections and it works really well on a phone. It even manages to bring humour into being a CTO which must be difficult. Read it even if you're not a CTO any modern leader would benefit from reading this book!
Ade McCormack
Ade McCormack
Digital Readiness Institute
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Congratulations Rorie. Nice format. Easy to read. Clear direction.
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