When you’ve been involved in business operations for more than four decades, you’ve learned a thing or two about strategies and how to put them in place. A veteran shares his wisdom and best practices for digital transformation that makes sense – even for those outside IT.
Eric Clemons, a professor of operations, information and decisions for The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, often begins any advice he offers on digital transformation by couching it in terms of history.
So, if he’s asked about his opinions on digital transformation, he will talk about how he’s been in computing since the 1960s, and all the developments in technology he’s seen since then. Or, he may reach even further back and question how a caveman would react 12,000 years ago if someone told the early human about agriculture.
Um, surprised? Confused?
“Exactly!” he says.
That’s how those outside IT may think when they hear about digital transformation, he says. They may not understand it and perhaps are even a little afraid of what it means. Further, just like a caveman hearing about agriculture for the first time, they may not really understand the huge impact it will have on their lives, he adds.
Clemons emphasizes that the digital transformation taking place today isn’t just happening in a couple of departments of a business, but is completely overhauling the structure and strategy of an entire business. While that may be an overwhelming thought for some organizations, Clemons says it doesn’t have to be as long as it’s broken down to a series of “manageable” steps and leaders realize that it isn’t so much about technology as it is information.
“Digital transformation is really a different way of thinking,” he says. “It’s just enabled by technology.”
A recent Strategy&’s analysis finds that 16 bellwether sectors, such as aviation and utilities, must not just embrace new and unexpected forms for digitization and technological innovation, but must also use them to reform their current business models. Change is coming quickly, but many business leaders and their organizations are unprepared for them, the analysis finds.
One of the ways that companies can begin to adopt transformation — and help their employees embrace it — is by having each one understand what it means to have the “right” customer, Clemons says.
For example, in the late 1980s, Citibank wanted to become (read more here)-
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