22 Top Tech Execs ~ 3 Things to Consider

Evanta, a Gartner Company hosted a meeting in NYC to discuss the “Digital Enterprise” @Malea O’Neill @Jordon Guess

1) Leadership

Communication is key but many struggle with the everyday pressures of leading high performing, fast moving, results driven teams.   The struggle consumes time and makes it difficult for leaders to deal with the fundamentals including communications.  In turn, the house of cards starts to stack up.  Yes,  communication is critical and important to every aspect of the work, but getting sucked into the black hole of endless meetings, corporate executive briefings, and project or initiative recovery eats away at the opportunities to communicate.

What can we do?

A few simple takeaways from the discussion:

  • Make communication a priority and don’t sacrifice it to any other organizational pressure.
  • Establish, define, adjust and consistently broadcast mission, vision, scope, objectives, and organizational intent.  Always convey the reasoning behind decisions at a high level and create discussion regarding direction.
  • Maintain trust, integrity, and respect for all in the organization.
  • Maintain respectful collaboration / communication channels for all employees.
  • Learn about your people and know them.

At all times, leadership must maintain and focus on organizational and situational awareness.  Lack of awareness and lack of communication eat at the fabric of organizational trust.

Make this a practice and make no compromises.

2) Learn

Lessons learned in Digital Transformation / Transformation / Formation should not be ignored.   This doesn’t mean piling books on a desk and studying to remember everything all the time.  It means that life long learning including lessons of the organization must be consistently practiced.  There is an idea about a “decade apprentice” where we recognize that we never stop learning and continuous learning is part of the work / life activities.    Ryan Rose (Cisco) refers to research by Josh Bersin  that ‘continuous learning’ cultures are:

  • 92 percent more likely to develop novel products and processes
  • 56 percent more likely to be first to market with products and services
  • 52 percent more productive
  • 30 to 50 percent higher in retention and engagement rates
  • 17 percent more profitable than their peers

Learning corporate, company / organizational lessons and writing or sharing these is part of this practice.   Learn to know what we “know” as a collective organization.  Interesting lessons specifically on transformation in insurance were shared by Kevin Field. If you are interested in his perspective, reach out to him.

3)Define Digital 4U

Multiple Perspectives on Digital

Three viewpoints reflective of a room full of leaders.

  • Digital is broken down by customer, employee, partners.
  • Digital is everything.
  • Digital is Business, Market, Workplace.

Even at a high level these aren’t really helpful or practical for use.   The common thread in discussion and frustration is a lack of consensus on the definition of digital. It means different things to different people, both inside and outside of organizations.  Unless companies define what they define as digital from an organization or corporate perspective, it remains unclear as to what it is.  This goes back to communication.   It also makes things very challenging in consideration of planning capital and operational expenses because many companies are doing digital things and classifying them as investment.   The technology is still technology but it finds itself with a CMO, CXO, CTO as opposed to a CIO.

A strategic digital initiative may not consider the operational implications or costs.  The support aspects of O&M wind up with the CIO that didn’t plan for them.  Many CIO’s can’t see the costs coming because business leaders use credit card IT or cloud services without the consideration for long term implications or systems integration.

Even simple solutions can become complicated.    Someone bought a mobile app and didn’t realize the integration issues with AD or authentication services.  They find themselves going to those IT guys after the purchase.  IT didn’t know about the initiative because it was “none of their business” but now it is.    The banner or flag in which the initiative was created is “Digital something.”


Example: Global, Personal, Group / Area of Context

Company A’s leadership understands that Company A must continue to evolve towards digital connectivity both with our customers and internally with our workforce.   What does this mean for Company A?   What is Digital?

What is Digital?  Digital is..  at the very core is

  • SocialCommunication and Collaboration
  • Mobility – Ability to easily access resources while “in motion”
  • Analytics and Data – Big data, small data…. data .. data..  understanding patterns, behaviors, and having information to help us learn more about “why” something happens.  How to understand what to do about it and how to predict it.
  • Agile and Application Based Information Technology–  Having the ability to self service and execute quickly to accomplish a business or personal task or goal.
  • Cloud – “To the cloud!”   Ability to execute quickly, less on site resources, less on premise spending, realizing benefits of shared resources, realizing speed of available services and realize benefits of expertise in specific technical areas.
  • Automation – Ability to have tasks, services, business objectives, and/or goals accomplished through patterns, both pre-conditioned or intelligent technological response.
    What does it mean to you?

    Two basic considerations:

    1. Digital Workplace
    2. Digital Customer Experience and Business Exchange

    Regardless of what we do at Company A we are all part of the digital experience.  We must work together to share our lessons learned, our best practices, our innovation and our failures in order for us all to become better in this digital world.  The most important thing to remember is that digital is not a replacement for our human experience, it is an extension of who we are.   If we keep this in mind and stay focused on our experience both as a workforce and in client customer service,  we will continue to lead the pack.

    Is Knowledge Management tied to Digital?  *Tied to an area of sub-context in an organization.

    Yes..  Our KM Team focus is mostly on the Digital Workplace aspects, but the same tools, process, practices may apply to other areas.   The future of work is cognitive, physical, social… and digital.


One Reply to “22 Top Tech Execs ~ 3 Things to Consider”

  1. Hi Howie. The lack of common understanding of the term “digital” is core to many issues, especially when it is used so often and loosely even at the very highest strategic level. People know what they mean when they use it, but would be surprised to discover that (as the graphic so percectly depicts) a lot is lost in translation by others in the conversation. This happens with so many terms… and why I’ve taken to pausing for a “definition of terms moment” in conversations. It’s proved to be a very enlightening pause in many circumstances, and prevented a whole lot of confusion.
    Somewhat related is frustration that “digital” (whatever the user’s meaning) is treated as a separate strategy or business, when it’s part of an overarching strategy. It’s not a shiny toy anymore, with its own special tent. Teams and organizations are missing out by carving out digital from everything (and everyone) else – diversity of thought is not only key to avoiding unintended consequences and making decisions based on false assumptions, but also drives richer thinking and (magic, vague word alert) innovation.

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