ITDF 2016: Are You Agile Enough For Digital Transformation?

Upon recovery and contemplation of three days on-board The Aurora (the ship that, along with Richmond Events, hosted the IT Directors Forum this year) a few interesting conversations and stories stand out. One story in particular about a large wooden canoe (but that’s for another time and better told by Simon Jones, Cofounder of Black Pepper Software). But for me, some of the group findings that came out of our Digital Transformation Workshop captured my interest and surprised me in equal measure.

Digital Transformation workshop

Our workshop; “Are you agile enough for Digital Transformation?”, follows on from a piece of research we have been undertaking across IT Directors in a variety of sectors in which we asked four questions, “What does digital transformation mean to your company?” “Do you have a digital transformation strategy?” and if so, “What is preventing you implementing it?” and “What benefits do you expect it to deliver?”

The purpose of the workshop was to create a space in which busy IT Directors could consider these questions and share their answers in an open and relaxed forum of peers.

During the workshop we discussed attendee’s individual business challenges and then benchmarked these against others in the room and data collated from our research.

The first question put to the group was “What does digital transformation mean to you and your company? And do you have a DT strategy in place?”

The responses appeared to follow two approaches. “Outside in” and “Inside out”

“Outside in” we likened to a current client project (a leading blue chip logistics company) in which we had been tasked to transform the customer experience by creating a seamless UX at every customer touch point.

While B2B companies appeared to more systems and processes driven and concluded that working “Inside out” was their focus for Digital Transformation as a priority, Customer Experience appeared to be a key focus for larger consumer facing organisations, working “Outside in” , starting with every external Customer Touch Point and treating the internal day to day process and systems as secondary.

Interestingly, on one point everyone agreed; digital transformation is fundamentally about “making it easier to do business with us”. Simple, yet a great starting point for a strategy.

This was followed up with discussions around “What is preventing you implementing it?” Again a lively debate ensued, however the responses appeared to all boil down into three key challenges: Lack of time, resource or ownership, rather than a lack of capital.

When asked “What benefits do you expect it to deliver?” the four main expectations were possibly predictable; Better insight, improved CX, increased profit and gaining a competitive advantage.

The findings from the workshop supported those of our research (a summary of which will be available soon) but more importantly highlight the need for businesses to spend time considering their digital journey step by step as part of a wider transformation strategy. It was a useful session for all involved and we’ve subsequently received some fantastic feedback from delegates:

“The discussion has definitely made me come back to my desk and consider ways to help re-organise our digital structure”.

Malcolm Kandulu, Head of ICT, Institute of Hospitality

“It was one of the best sessions and the perfect way to end the day”

Norman Artery, Head of IT, Searcys

In short, what we found was that time was a far greater blocker to transformation than money and that sometimes the most complex, business changing strategies should start with you asking a very simple question, “How do we make it easier to do business with us?”

If you missed the session and would like to spend some time discussing your own digital transformation journey, or if you’d like to receive the full report from our research then please get in touch –

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