“How to take on the Digital Wave”

A growing issue for AR pros and their companies is defining what ‘digital’ means. Or, more importantly, understanding how the different industry analyst firms define digital and “digital transformation”. It is certain that digital will “disrupt”, and that more existing businesses will get ‘Uber-ed”, as one of our panellists put it. However what is less clear is just how and where digital transformation will impact existing business models over the next few years, as well as what the opportunities and threats will emerge from digital. How might the AR pro navigate the new digital landscape when briefing and engaging with industry analysts firms? These were just some of the questions posed to a distinguished panel of leading industry analysts at the latest IIAR event hosted at the glamourous Heron Tower on August 13th 2015.

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Aniruddho Mukherjee of the IIAR kicking off the evening with an overview and update on IIAR to its members,whilst Debleena Paul and Neil Pollock also both from the IIAR look on

Is 2015 a tipping point in terms of digital transformation?

The convenor, Debleena Paul, got the ball rolling by asking the panellists whether 2015 is a tipping point in terms of digital transformation. Are digital technologies beginning to bring the kind of disruption that has been promised for some time? Marianne Kolding (Vice President and Executive Sponsor, European Digital Transformation Practice at IDC) responded that it was coming but that it was not there yet. A lot of firms have it on their agenda and are “dabbling”, but change wasn’t happening everywhere. Tim Walters (Co-founder and Principal Analyst at Digital Clarity Group), saw that ‘phase 1’ of the change had occurred, where companies beginning to educate the public about how digital was something that they would need, but that ‘phase 2’, where companies were beginning to think about what they were going to do about it, was only just beginning.

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Pictured, from left to right, Debleena Paul (IIAR), Dominic Trott (PAC), Tom Reuner (HfS), Gerry Brown (Ovum), Tim Walters (DCG), Marianne Kolding (IDC)

Digital transformation can be anything. The first problem is identifying it, says Gerry Brown from Ovum

Very quickly the panellists got to the issue plaguing discussions of digital transformation thus far: What exactly is it? Tom Reuner (Managing Director for IT Outsourcing Research at HfS), thought that digital transformation meant different things to different people. The term was being used by everyone simply as a place holder. Debleena quizzed the panellists on what their definition was – noting how each industry analyst firm seemed to have a different conception of digital transformation.

Digital transformation is a process, not a project, says Marianne Kolding from IDC

Marianne Kolding told the audience that IDC saw digital transformation as where the business model for the company was fundamentally changed. This was both in the way it served its customers but also how its employees operated. For IDC, digital transformation was not just about reconfiguring the front-end but also transforming back office processes. Firms had to build a new way of looking at technology. Digital transformation cannot simply be another project, she argued, it has to be a process. Dominic Trott, (Senior Analyst Digital Business at PAC), told the audience that PAC has two definitions for digital transformation. The first is tackling the front end where the company attempts to build tighter customer interactions but the second is a broader change in culture and mindset in terms of reorganising the business around the needs of the customer.

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Debleena Paul (IIAR) grills Dominic Trott (PAC)

Digital is a wave but has unexpected force, Tim Walters from DCG notes that companies need to understand and react appropriately to the energy

Tim Walters reminded the audience that the kinds and amount of change that companies were undergoing today was not unprecedented. Companies had been subject to similar waves of change through earlier technologies. And like these waves before companies needed to understand and react to the specific energy in the wave. What is different this time, argued Tim, was that whereas in past waves it was the company that led the change, this time around it is the consumer that is empowered; it is the customer that is driving the change.

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Tim Walters and Gerry brown debating the finer points of the digital ecosystem

AR Pro Tip 101 on how to improve a presentation: Ask the analyst what they would find valuable!

The conversation turned to how AR pros might improve the way they present their companies digital transformation strategy to industry analysts. Here, rather than dissensus, there was much agreement. Tom Reuner strongly pushed for companies not to present technologies but “narratives”. Companies needed to come up with narratives which were true for their organisation as they were for the problems experienced by their customers. Rather than standard ‘corporate decks’, Gerry Brown, (Senior Analyst, Customer Engagement in Digital Technology at Ovum), wanted to hear ‘war stories’. This includes what has worked and what hasn’t; the upsides and downsides of the digital transformation strategy. Tim Walters was similarly interested in hearing the ‘process’ by which the company understands their customers’ problems. He was much less interested in companies telling him what they can do, but rather how they were now doing things they couldn’t do before, because a client has a new problem and has asked for it.

Your Point of View!

You’re read what we think. We’d love to hear your point of view on what digital transformation might mean for companies and how AR pros could do a better job of communicating their transformation strategies to industry analysts and others. We’re working on a longer version of this blog post, and would like to incorporate your feedback into a white paper that would be circulated with IIAR members. Let us know your experiences. Add your comments to the blog or email us.

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Event attendees

It wasn’t all digital transformation, however. There was also time for some of the event attendees to enjoy an expert talk on the famous Heron building fish tank! We learnt it was the largest privately owned fish tank in Europe, and the names of quite a few fish too!

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2 Responses to “How to take on the Digital Wave”

  1. Stephen England Tuesday 18th August 2015 at 14:45 #

    Sounds like a great event but I must sound a few words of caution. It must be noted that all the analyst guests are “pushing” digital transformation as it is their personal coverage area.

    You will get a very different perspective from most Gartner analysts. Remembering that Gartner has over 10,000 end user clients and none of the firms represented have more than a few hundred, I’d go with the bigger sample size any day.

    Finally, our ten plus years of KCG Analyst Perception Audits do not show any significant change in analyst’s preference for “digital” or “social” means of interactions with us – the AR profession. For the 4-500 analysts completing our detailed study every year it ranks in the bottom 2 of a 12 way “communication preferences” scorecard.

    • pollockneil Wednesday 19th August 2015 at 10:47 #

      Hi Stephen, Thanks for taking the time to comment. As the post says, we hoping to write this up into an IIAR white paper that offers advice to AR pros on the topic. Your input would be greatly appreciated. Would you have time for a quick call to discuss how we might develop the paper?
      All the best
      Neil Pollock