Digital transformation : Perform and Transform with Marc Fontaine

“Building data driven industries is about transforming relationships : it’s strategy in a digital world. “

Digital transformation is a buzzword but is taken for granted, and therefore it can mean everything, or nothing. Marc and I have a great discussion about the art of turning traditional companies into data driven companies .. particularly focusing on unlocking the potential of data, and driving digital at scale.

What are the challenges, opportunities and things to look out for when taking organisations on this journey ? How do we prepare for scale at the same time as we go from idea to Proof of concept ? Digital transformation is about technology, business outcomes, market experience and change management – a tapestry of unknown and known quantities that needs to be unpicked to be put back together differently.

Marc shares his wealth of experience and insights on what digital can enable in organisations and how people & their organisations can leverage this.

The main insights you’ll get from this episode are :

  • Digital transformation turns traditional companies into data-driven companies and, beyond that, creates data-driven industries – ‘transformation in a digital world’. Data is truly fundamental but there is room for improvement: 

1.    Access the data that is available in a company: if only the company knew what the company knows – people underestimate the potential on their doorstep.

2.    Data follows processes across silos: process mining tools follow the data flow/end-to-end chain – data is a true indicator of business performance.

  • Data is a powerful lever for change; being able to use data to track and explain soft actions (diversity, loyalty, empowerment) – the softer the problem, the more important the data. It is also relevant at individual operator level, not just at systemic level, as informed people require less intervention.
  • All companies face the same challenges: being data-driven requires, courage, effort, risks, and far-reaching change, which can result in new business/business models. 
  • Digital transformation is the responsibility of the collective executive committee, not just the CIO; companies must increase their spending to kickstart a digital programme but there are no real incentives to do so – it requires governance. 
  • It is difficult to transform and perform at the same time, but the executive level can manage these two agendas by having one team to optimise performance and another team to build something new.
  • It is very complex to innovate at the core and traditional companies see innovation as an outpost/satellite: a team that is freed from the constraints of the mother ship yet is working for the benefit of it. 
  • The foundations for scaling up must be laid before or at least alongside MVP/PoC – this requires modern, agile, iterative IT that is compatible with old systems, and the choice of tools is important to ensure technical solutions that permit scaling. 
  • Digital transformation is about technology, business outcomes and change management: the difficulty with ramping up change management is the human element, training, etc. HR and the digital team cannot do it alone – there are digital entrepreneurs within companies. 
  • Leaders must demonstrate awareness, take it seriously, recognise the gaps, offer support, get involved, be trained (by their teams), role model interest and lead as a supporter – data is about customers, products, employees and performance, not only systems and piping. 
  • There must be incentives to upskill and operationalise in the digital world: often the project is not clearly defined and the conditions for success not in place – there is more maturity around the subject, and good tools, but it is still not adopted to the appropriate degree. 
  • Leveraging data represents a competitive advantage and a virtuous circle: data makes companies more adaptive and resilient. Data will always be useful at some point, but we don’t necessarily know when and what for exactly (cf. Covid).
  • Digital transformation is a buzzword but is taken for granted; it requires 25% of executive committee time. Data too will become a compliance issue – nobody is liable for data yet (as they are for cybersecurity) – and having data-driven value will help unlock the potential of data and drive digital at scale.

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Suzie Lewis

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