business transformation before digital transformation

MITSloan presented some results from a survey about the need for digital transformation (companies face an imperative: adopt new technologies effectively or face competitive obsolescence as the study states). Results include an interesting, but not so strange, paradox:

  • 78% say achieving digital transformation will become critical to their organisations within the next two years
  • Only 38% of respondents said that digital transformation was a permanent fixture on their CEO’s agenda

I think this circles the most pressing issue and bottleneck; the interchangable use of digital transformation and business transformation.

Looking at digital technology (in whatever shape or form) from the level you stand, will not help you transform the business. Albert Einstein said that “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it”. If you are expecting business transformation, you need to work on where that transformation might be going before you look at digital technology. Multiple answers will do too, scenario planning and future creation are exercises in plurality, but you simply cannot view things like you used to.

Despite growing acknowledgment of the need for digital transformation, most companies struggle to get clear business benefits from new digital technologies. They lack both the management temperament and relevant experience to know how to effectively drive transformation through technology.

Brand therapy in order to aim business transformation

So It’s backwards. Technology won’t give you the new future and reveal possible business benefits, it helps reach it and to an extent anticipate it. Companies need to revisit their entire reason for being, the meaning of them in peoples’ lives. Turn it inside out, because whatever you are now was created in a reality which is no longer. You need to go to brand therapy. Looking at yourself through the same old eyes simply cannot reflect a transformed image. You need a new level of self consciousness which means you have to have the guts (and realise the scope of a transformational process like this) to question old truths. You have to be prepared to redefine what you do (the business) as opposed to how you do things (the tools).

MITSloan survey, barriers to digital transformation

What I say is missing from this is the lack of a clear purpose and new self consciousness. The pieces that help give change a clear direction, reason and fundamental meaning.

the ecosystem businesses are a part of

Restaurant accepts trash as payment

Examples like these might seem tiny, insignificant and maybe even fruitless. But I disagree. To every product there is a backside to the production, usage and remains. To all of this there is a business oportunity somewhere. And as businesses are pressed to rethink the entirety of their operations I think we’ll see more examples of significant size where reframing markets as an end-to-end eco system makes perfect sense. And if Unilever can view its Sustainable Living Plan as the business strategy there’s hope.

language hinders you from creating for your meaning market

There are product categories and then there are meaning markets. Well, to me there is. I keep coming back to the importance of brands thinking about themselves as having meaning in a greater context. What is the meaning with us? Of course viewed from the other side it’s about what value do I (user) get out of them (brand). And when corporations can ask themselves that question from the perspective of a consumer (customer centricity) is when you start seeing opportunities within a/your meaning market.

Product categories are limiting. Ford as a car brand? Then go ahead and invent better cars (and product innovation is of course needed). Ford as mobility brand? Then it makes perfect sense to team up with (hell they could have started it) Zip Car and help sell transportation by the hour to consumers used to buying music by the song, as Gretchen Effgen, of Zipcar, put it a while back. Joint miles program with air line? Why not.

In digital transformation (i.e. business transformation, mind you) – definitions, perspectives and self perceptions makes all the difference. This, by super smart Deborah Mills-Scofield, I liked:

“There is a balance between using the past to understand the present and guide the future, on the one hand, and on the other, creating something fresh that leaves the old behind. We need analogies to understand the new (eg, horseless carriage) yet they also hold us back by it constraining our thinking (eg, horseless carriage).”

– Deborah Mills-Scofield, In HBR

And if you think that’s only about semantics and words, here’s the knock-you-straight business version from Peter Drucker.

“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic.”

Almost all clients I’ve come in contact with and in any way consulted in digital transformation, whether tactical or strategic, the issue has sat there. Definitions. Definitions reinforced by legacy. This keeps you distanced from the future. Regardless of how evenly or unevenly distributed it might be…

att hitta rätt problemen och att få lösa det

Nyligen diskuterade några gamla kollegor och jag kring detta med konsulters möjlighet, eller omöjlighet att lösa de riktiga problemen efter att ha involverats utifrån en specifik disciplin. Alltså reklambyråer är reklambyråer och löser reklamproblem även om reklamproblemet egentligen är ett annat. Visst finns dessa, men det är inte överdrivet många. Att identifiera ett problem och resonera kring hur lösningen kan se ut, vilket när man nyktert ser på saken ofta är ett par scenarios, inte ofta kan måla upp helt “disciplinfria” scenarios.

Ett tydligt exempel kommer upp. Kundtjänst kostar för mycket och detta måste åtgärdas. Ärendena handlar övervägande om fakturaproblem och missuppfattningar. Problem: fakturan och inte kundtjänst. Lös problemet med otydlig faktura.

Osv.

Kommer att tänka på detta nu när frågan om presstödet är på tapeten.

När presstödet en gång inrättades var problembeskrivningen klar: förstatidningarna var på väg att slå ut andratidningarna…
Nu är det även förstatidningens ställning som är satt under hot, när annonsintäkter försvinner och den digitala omställningen är svår att hantera.

– Cilla Benkö, DN.

Det handlade inte om andratidningen just, utan vad den representerade: en levande journalistik med flera perspektiv. Motsatsen till enkelriktad och ensidig. Varför? För det är en förutsättning för en välfungerande demokrati. Den utsatta andra tidningen var symtomatiskt för problemet. Självklart då, men mindre självklart nu (nu är det mer komplext), men samma grundläggande utmaning består.

Konkreta förslag saknas inte. Det handlar till exempel om att genomföra det av riksdagen beslutade avskaffandet av den orättvisa reklamskatten, samt att momssatsen för digital journalistik inte ska vara högre än för journalistik på papper.

– Cilla Benkö, DN.

Det viktigaste och bästa man kan göra när man letar lösningar, är att återgå till problemet och försäkra sig om att man inte utgår ifrån symtom, utan den faktiska kärnan i problemet. Men hur väl är du positionerad att överhuvud taget få gehör för detta? Ja, har du rullat med vad kunden hela tiden ber om, oavsett om det förefaller rätt eller fel, blir det svårt. Är du för djävla omedgörligt får du aldrig behålla uppdraget. Blandar du bara in människor ifrån ditt skrå, din disciplin, ja då är det svårt att få gehör för annat resonemang.

Vill du lösa de verkliga problemen, bevisa det genom att inte alltid komma dragades med samma gamla problemlösare. Agera tvärdisciplinärt, perspektivskiftande och i mångt och mycket explorativt. Knyt till dig organisationskonsulter. Etc.

Garanterat nya uppfattningar om vad problemet är.

Micco har (självklart) skrivit ett bra inlägg om detta med att ringa in det faktiska problemet. Det jag tänker mycket på, är metoder för att bli personen/organisationen som gärna får göra det.

Har någon tänkt mycket på detta? Droppa en kommentar eller ett mail, why don’t you.

diversity, collaboration and process – how will it work for you

LEGO - figures of sorts
from Lego mini-figures tumblr

Lot’s going on in the creative industries with regards to how we/it works. Reflecting over what’s been taken for granted, what’s been simple for a client to buy (the unfortunate dominance of project over process). How might we make it work better?

A few good reads on the subject:
collaborative innovation, by Saher Sidhom, running and exploring things at Forge, at AMV/BBDO London, from planner.se

A series in Fast Co.Design on ideation, team collaboration, methods and prototyping at Google Ventures. Always sexy to peak inside of that place.
P1. Conducting your own Google Venture design sprint
P2. 6 ingredients to run a design sprint
P3. Building team understanding
P4. 8 steps to creating story boards
P5. Deciding what ideas to prototype
P6. Lightning fast digital prototype
P7. Testing ideas with rapid-fire user study
By Jake Knapp, designer and product development expert at Google Ventures

This thinking about better processes, methods and skill-sets in order to create better ideas, whatever creative industry you’re in, differ. But the common reason for it is about new technologies, speed, transparency, connectivity and a better general understanding of how creativity works.

To me, personally having worked with strategy and ideation in brand communications (indexing quite high), application development and utility/service design, there are a few things that are so very general that it’s pretty obvious that all creative industries will benefit from looking into it. And doing that is so very easy.

Diversity – something many, probably an absolute majority, are crap at. More perspectives will generate more interesting perspectives and reflections. Why is it not a rule to involve outside brains? Easily fixed. Who doesn’t want to get to know more interesting people?

Plan for iteration – things don’t end up the way you want just when you want it. Fact. In a client relationship, a bit tricky to just change, I know, but it can be done. Go from preparing a client to see/hear what solution we have, to preparing them to meet 4 times expected to input on a load of possible solutions. Takes more time, perhaps. Yields better end result, most likely. Demands another remuneration model for many – so fix it. Demands new processes for ideation – shitloads are out there to use. Will mean you see less of some individuals cracking THE solution – yes, those people will be dangerous in more collaborative processes.

Lose the ego – probably the hardest part, see dangerous people in previously (and present) individualist focused industries. Rethink incentives and goals from individual to group. There are professionals that know shitloads about that subject, how to foster collectivistic energy, pride etc. If you haven’t talked to one, you haven’t even taken the first step in even trying.

You could go on of course. But these 3 are sooo very general that there’s not even a question of doing it or not. It’s ridiculous. As they say; “Just do it”.

brands as a part of our environment and more

Camper is a quirky shoe brand from Mallorca, Spain. You react when you see them, from the characteristic “one-way-show-string” models, to the “rounded soldier boot meet clown shoe” inspired style but perhaps primarily their stores, in which their shoes are presented in a very artful way. It’s somewhat of an experience to browse the models which is nice.

I like the reflection below, about how Camper and its stores is part of the cities they’re in. And when you design a store, you can take cultural (and perhaps even political!) differences into account, hence looking at it from the perspective of adding, changing or commenting something that exists, in the greater context of things. In the case of Camper, using different designers to design stores around globe, resulting in drastically different experiences, it’s
“more a cultural thing”, rather than commercial, says Miguel Fluxá.

When we started to open stores outside Spain we thought it was interesting not to repeat them. The world today is becoming a little bit boring, everything is becoming the same. So we thought it was interesting for the brand, and for the cities, to do different designs from one place to the other. We started to do this many years ago and it’s something that has given us a lot of identity and has worked quite well over the years.

– Miguel Fluxá of Camper, via Dezeen

Camper in-store design
In-store design, from Dezeen.com

Being Agency Of Record

A while back there was an ongoing discussion about the future of the advertising agency. That time it was not about them moving into service design and products, the way it is now (agencies are always needing to change into something else it seems, or at least talk about it), but it was about digital agencies vs. tradtional agencies as “agency of record”. Did the traditional ones get it? Would the digital ones grow up? It turned out it wasn’t so dramatic, and I would say that the agencies acting like good consultant are probably the ones still referred to as AOR. Why? Because good consultants don’t have one truth, as in It’s all digital now or social media is where it’s at or TV is dead – X is the answer etc.

No, good consultants start with their clients and then look for what seems to be true for clients’ situations. Quite nuanced. Less of an agenda, other than end results. More open and likely to identify connections and not just dots.

This is why Heiselman thinks that advertising will become a sales tool not a brand building one. The only way to clinch the deal is to offer a deal, and that is my big concern. If people are constantly bombarded with special offers, they will soon become sensitized to them.
– Nigel Hollis, in Will advertising become a transactional tool

> Data driven, contextual (dumb or otherwise), centered around offers.

Advertising vehicles that allow you to “engage” and have “conversations” with your brand’s heavy users by promising precision targeting provide very limited opportunity to grow your business. In fact, they often distract you from your proper objective – attracting new customers.
– Ad Contrarian, The Hidden Danger Of Precision Targeting

> On the belief that people want to engage with brands. For some, often few, that is the case, but it’s definitely not be all end all.

What are people’s aspirations? How does the brand play a role in it? I would employ anthropologists and psychologists and look at cultural analyses. We should be doing that with channels and places and spaces that consumers are engaging with every day. While advertising has tended to be more channel-orientated I’m not sure we, as strategic planners, have been putting the same emphasis on understanding as we should have. That’s what I’m hoping to bring.
– Abigail Posner, Head of Strategic Planning, Agency Development, Google, on “How brands can humanize their digital experience (PSFK)

Those consultants, agencies and other companies who want to understand how things relate, that don’t love specific tools and solutions more than others, are the AORs. By understanding what needs to be done while not necessarily being able to do all themselves.

social media the organisational change agent


Photo thanks to riklomas

I came across two new reports on how connectedness, new touchpoints and feedback loops are affecting organisations, the marketing function and “where it sits”, and also increased customer centricity. They sum up the greater context, and the combined reasons, for some of the organisational changes (or needs for) that need to happen. One report from McKinsey (We Are All Marketers Now) and one from Forrester commissioned by Dell (Social Listening).

Forrester found that organizations across various industries that have implemented listening and digital engagement initiatives are starting to see impressive business returns.
– Forrester

You often hear negative voices on showing ROI from social media within marketing and it’s a fair point because getting measurements right isn’t that easy and, obviously, neither is actually generating a positive ROI. But a positive ROI should be delivered through social media implemented into, and used by, the whole organisation and not just marketing, which changes the ROI conversation, the investments and the over-all value it brings. You might even argue that it redefines marketing, which is what McKinsey are arguing.

In the era of engagement, marketing is the company… In essence, companies need to become marketing vehicles, and the marketing organization itself needs to become the customer-engagement engine…
– McKinsey

In today’s marketing environment, companies will be better off if they stop viewing customer engagement as a series of discrete interactions and instead think about it as customers do: a set of related interactions that, added together, make up the customer experience.
– McKinsey

Which means there’s an increased need for designed and coherent interactions that stem from a better agreed understanding of who the brand is and its meaning in people’s lives. If it’s too much for one person to be responsible for customer engagement, then companies (realistically larger size ones) might consider having one for every function within the organisation, who can then liaise with each other in order to cross the boundaries that exist between sales, marketing, customer service etc.

The marketing organisations new look, 4 key dimensions identified by McKinsey

Distribute more activities
If marketing is the company, the distribution of marketing activities changes.

More councils and partnerships
As distribution of activities change, new needs for synchronization and collaboration cross-boundaries emerge.

Elevate the role of customer insights
With more and better feedback loops and data waiting to be tapped – all aspects of the company can and must benefit.

More data rich and analytically intense
Apparently Zynga generates and captures five terabytes of customer data every day. Wow!

Helping companies understand and benefit from social media is enough to realise that we’re looking at some major organisational issues. It’s all organisational, and organisations are tricky. It’s complex and it’s slow. It means shifting incentives, responsibilities and accountabilities. Many companies are going to have huge problems for a long time, and some companies offering organisational change management are going to get rich…

Social media is helping bring companies closer together internally, and perhaps it’s even the strongest catalyst for better cooperation, cross-department co-operation and incentivising for over-all collaboration. Quite an important roll.