[GUEST POST] Do You Have a Digital Devil’s Advocate? You need one.

By Phil Hassey, CEO CapioIT (@PHassey, LinkedIn)Phil Hassey / CEO, capioIT (IIAR guest post)

Digital is truly transformational to an organizational ecosystem when it works, but it is increasingly runs the risk of significant corporate exposure and risk when it fails.  Unfortunately the failure of digital will lead to the reduction in innovation and down we spiral. No-one wins with that environment. Just ask Westfield/SCentre who had to completely alter their strategy for ticketless parking after capioIT identified major security issues in Nov. 2015 (Reference – Westfield may have a “Smarter Way to Park”, but the risk to individual privacy and security is not sma… http://wp.me/p15cZf-dy). Westfield simply was not in the position, or resourced the right individual to identify the unknown unknowns, or unintended consequences of the otherwise positive innovation of ticketless parking.

When Digital fails and the customer experience is at best suboptimal, and at worst destructive, it is typically due to key factors being overlooked. All to typically  inputs and implications are not on the project radar let alone measured correctly. In instances of digital failure that capioIT has addressed in the past 6 months, the security division of the enterprise was not in alignment with Marketing or technology, for a security based solution, in others the legacy infrastructure was leveraged which was not flexible enough to prepare for the required digital solution. Organisational isolation kills digital.

Unfortunately, and frustratingly it is clear that most organisations have failed to consider the unintended consequences of digital investments. Even within such humble business areas as car parking, capioIT has identified major flaws in the execution of so called digital innovation because of the failure to take an end to end approach and think laterally about unintended consequences.

If you or your organization believe digital is about simply enabling Cloud, or investing in Analytics, then you are seriously misguided. Digital has to be much more than that. As capioIT has regularly opined, Digital is much more than technology. Technology vendors and technology departments alike get too focused on defining it in technology terms, (SMAC being the worst example), and fail to identify it in an integrated approach including regulatory, customer, or employee perspectives, as a result they fail to engage broader aspects of the business. (Think the Digital Economy is just a Technology Play – Prepare to fail http://wp.me/p15cZf-cR)

To avoid these negative outcomes of Digital, which can ultimately  materially impact a share price or brand value, capioIT believes that a new role must emerge. That role is the Digital Devil’s Advocate.

The Digital Devil’s Advocate role will become essential to enable the organisation to cut through  internal issues and ensure that the unintended consequences or unknown unknowns are identified prior to flawed digital outcomes being dropped upon customers and stakeholders.

The Digital Devil’s Advocate will need to be across the business, optimistically cynical about all s/he is told, and not afraid to look under the hood, whilst bringing all parties together. He maybe an outsider, and in some instances will work best when s/he is an outsider to the industry. The clarity of a new perspective is critical.

Capture Point

In short, the Digital Devil’s Advocate is more than just a function of the Chief Strategy, Chief Technology or Chief Digital Officer. The role is rapidly becoming increasingly essential if organisations are going to maximize the value they create for Digital outcomes, rather than have to settle for sub-optimal and potentially negative outcomes which ultimately will denude innovation.

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