Thought Leadership

Our CTO’s Thoughts on Digital Transformation

On June 1st, 2017 our CTO, Matthew Metelsky (@telsky) took part in IT World Canada’s Twitter Chat on Digital Transformation. As part of a panel of 7 guest experts hosted by ITWC’s Mandy Kovacs, Matthew discussed his thoughts on the digital transformation journey within businesses, and how workplaces are changing as a result.

Here’s what he had to say in response to the discussion questions:


Q1: How have you experienced digital transformation in your own life?

A: My personal experience of Digital Transformation, flash back many years, to Grocery Gateway digitizing grocery shopping. With time constraints, visiting brick/mortar was a challenge. Grocery Gateway transformed the process – groceries came to me. That’s the epitome of Digital Transformation – change “something” so that we have time to spend doing other “things”.


Q2: In your opinion, what has been the most disruptive technology so far (whether in your own personal life, business life, etc.)?

A: Without a doubt, Cloud computing or, generally, “as a service (aaS)” offerings, or utility computing. Cloud has disrupted the paradigm of technology consumption, both professionally and personally.  Prior to Cloud, business had one choice – invest/host. The Cloud model allows flexibility in the 5 W’s of tech consumption.  5W = Who, What, Where, When, Why. Cloud changes the IT decision making process – more so, “what do we need to buy” becomes “what do we need to borrow”. As in, rather than buying technology, you essentially subscribe to technology.


Q3: What is the key to successful digital transformation?

A: It would be difficult to identify a single “thing” that gives way to successful digital transformation. It really depends.  As we look at what we provide for Digital Transformation, generally, it falls upon several key traits to success… Willingness to understand/embrace transformation, invest in people/technology that aim for innovation/continuous improvement. Removing tech barriers that may inhibit innovation and providing people with the ability to collaborate whenever, wherever.  Digital Transformation is not something you “buy”, rather, something that is unlocked by the people and technology you have. Be holistic and ambitious. Don’t be rigid in your strategy and approach.


Q4: What are some of the negative consequences of digitization and how can we alleviate those as best we can?

A: Security, security, security. Or lack thereof. Digitization exposes more of your business processes to a dangerous world. As much as digitization is meant to simplify how people interact with you, it also brings about unwanted attention. As part of digitization strategy, security and risk mitigation must be a critical part of the process, and never overlooked. And the security strategy must be a living strategy, practiced/maintained throughout all life cycles of digitization.  Technology and people investment will help with mitigation; however, mitigating all risk is, and will always be, a challenge.


Q5: For those that have yet to make the digital leap, is it too late? Why or why not?

A: No. Though a business may be in a disrupted market, there’s always opportunity to define new, more creative business models. Transformation is not a finite process, rather a methodology of continuous evolution and improvement of business process.


Q6: What would you say to a legacy company that believes going digital is a waste of time, money and resources?

A: Your customers will, at some point, demand more of your model – for example, to make your goods/services easier to acquire. If you can’t accommodate to their wants, someone else will. You must be in position to supply to that demand. Part of transformation is accepting risk by anticipating change. Investing now mitigates business failure in the future.


Q7: For those that have yet to make the digital leap, is it too late? Why or why not?

A: No. Though a business may be in a disrupted market, there’s always opportunity to define new, more creative business models. Transformation is not a finite process, rather a methodology of continuous evolution and improvement of business process.


Q8: What are some of the negative consequences of digitization and how can we alleviate those as best we can?

A: Security, security, security. Or lack thereof. Digitization exposes more of your business processes to a dangerous world. As much as digitization is meant to simplify how people interact with you, it also brings about unwanted attention. As part of digitization strategy, security and risk mitigation must be a critical part of the process, and never overlooked. And the security strategy must be a living strategy, practiced and maintained throughout all life cycles of digitization. Technology and people investment will help with mitigation; however, mitigating all risk is, and will always be, a challenge.


Q9: Looking forward, technology will likely continue advancing at a rapid pace. Can keep up with all the changes, or is that an unreasonably optimistic goal?

A: Keeping up is possible, so long as businesses focus on their core competency, and leverage expertise of partners/providers. Meaning technology partners/providers who understand your business requirements, and can deliver the technology to match. These partners are best of breed in their technology arenas, are highly innovative, and motivated for your success. Partners ensure your business core competencies are supported for business while delivering on theirs.


Q10: We’ve experienced the mobile-first mentality of the last few years evolve into an artificial intelligence-first focus more recently. What’s the next big tech trend we should expect to see?

A: People are constantly demanding more of technology every day. Specifically, how technology can work better for life. We all strive for life experiences, and that’s only possible with work-life balance. How can tech work towards that goal? Technology that deprives people from work-life balance is where we should see great innovation in the future. Sure, AI and machine learning will be great things, but patterns aren’t always accurate. Look at weather forecasting. People will always need to interact with technology/data – read, computers – and changes can be made to reduce time drains. Take the keyboard and mouse – something that has largely remain unchanged since the inception of the computer. In our minds, we know exactly what we want the keyboard and mouse to do – why do we need to transcribe thought into motion? Voice commands (Siri, Cortana) are changing the way in which we interact, as are touch screens, and IoT/automation. The combination of all these trends will climax to create a truly innovative way to interact with computers. AI, IoT, automation, machine learning will combine with Human Interfacing, removing the need for the keyboard and mouse. Allowing technology to be demanded and consumed at the speed of thought.

 

For a recap of the chat, including some of the best responses, click here

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