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Strategic use of technologies

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Good evening, everyone! Today is Tuesday which means that another lecture has been held for the “Strategies, benefits and alignment” course. I’m currently waiting for the recorded version to be uploaded and published on the student platform. While waiting, I read an article on digital transformation recommended by Gunnar Wettergren. The article, titled “Digital Transformation Strategies”, was published in 2015 and describes some common elements identified in digital transformation strategies.

The use of technologies addresses a company’s attitude towards new technologies as well as its ability to exploit these technologies. It therefore contains the strategic role of IT for a company and its future technological ambition. A firm needs to decide whether it wants to become a market leader in terms of technology usage with the ability to create own technological standards, or whether it prefers to resort to already established standards and sees technologies as means to fulfill business operations.

In the article the authors outline the four dimensions of digital transformation strategies: use of technologies; changes in value creation; structural changes; and financial aspects. I was very pleased with the way they defined the use of technologies. In the article the authors specified this as “a company’s attitude towards new technologies as well as its ability to exploit these technologies.” This sets the ambition of the entire enterprise when it comes to digital transformation and the level of acceptance towards the associated risks. It’s my experience that strategic documents related to IT usually focus on the IT department: what services are to be provided; how it should be organized; related frameworks to be used; and sometimes even specific versions of software and hardware choices. Hopefully it states something about information security and availability but, in my experience, that’s usually it. This is something the authors, or actually Teubner, also have identified:

While there are various concepts of IT strategies (Teubner 2013), these mostly define the current and the future operational activities, the necessary application systems and infrastructures, and the adequate organizational and financial framework for providing IT to carry out business operations within a company. Hence, IT strategies usually focus on the management of the IT infrastructure within a firm, with rather limited impact on driving innovations in business development.

What do you think? Do you agree with the four dimensions? Have you seen a good example of an IT strategy? Please leave a comment.

Reference
C. Matt et al.: Digital Transformation Strategies, Bus Inf Syst Eng 57(5):339–343 (2015)

Weekly summery

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Another week of studies completed! This week turned out to be quite productive compared to the last one. I spend the week with my wife in Greve in Chianti, a beautiful Italian village in the Tuscany region. Though we spend most of the time tasting different Italian specialities and drinking magnificent Chianti Classico wines I spend every morning down by the pool with my laptop and the course literature.

I finished reading “Benefits Realization Management – A Practice Guide” which have brought a lot of insights on strategic management. Most of what’s written in the textbook is common sense but it’s always good to have a framework to build upon. I don’t believe I’ve ever worked within an organization that focused on benefits in the way the BRM framework defines it and especially not within an organization where benefit realization have been holistically planned and managed. At least not to the extent that allows lower level management and specialists to clearly see how organizational benefits relate to the activities they undertake – this gap needs to be filled.

Benefit tracking and the related examples and templates in the textbook have provided some inspiration for visualisation and to how to emphasize benefits. For me, this primarily relates to the sustain stage of the life cycle where I, in the role of a operations manager, is given tools to visualise and emphasize when realized benefits risk being forfeit and the invested resources lost. With disruptive technology – sophisticated requirements on security, integrity, continuity and assurance – combined with budgets as my primarily antagonist I need effective weapons to influence senior management.

One of the most intriguing enlightens of this week was listening to Anand Swaminathan on the PMI podcast Projectified™. How do we build an organizational culture that embrace change after change after change. With disruptive technology and rapid changes in customer and employee expectations, how do we reinvent our self as an organization without getting completely lost.

What did you learn this week? Got any feedback? Please leave a comment!

Quote of the week

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I think culture change is just a mandatory requirement in the digital era, and by the way, it’s also not a one-time change, you have to keep reinventing yourself and keep making those cultural changes over and over again, because our customer expectations change very quickly, our employee expectations change very quickly, so it’s a non-stop era.

This quote was stated by Anand Swaminathan on the PMI podcast Projectified™, published on the 7th of February 2018. I believe that without a culture that embrace changes within your organization, you won’t survive long in the digital era.

But how do we implement this culture? Culture (not behavior) is one of the hardest things to change in general since it’s deeply rooted in people’s personalities — some people have a natural resistance to change!

Got any suggestions, any related articles or an HR-perspective on this? Please leave a comment!

What drives digital transformation?

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Secound day of the semester and my first lecture in 11 years. The topic of the lecture was digitization and digital transformation and was actually held yesterday. Unfortunately I missed the live lecture but watched the recorded version uploaded on the student platform. Gunnar Wettergren held an intriguing and amusing lecture on the topic and I thought it was a good introduction to the program as a whole.  It outlined the foundation of where we’re heading – as a society and profession.

Gunnar talked about the different drivers behind digital transformation and how most of these drivers have played their role historically. Even though I agree with what Gunnar said there was one word I missed – Value. I work with IT Service Management and from my perspective technology in itself isn’t a driver and has never been. Technology is an enabler but value is the driver. What value means will evolve over time but without a business case behind it –  technology in itself, is useless.

From my perspective, several companies are is a real mess when it comes to IoT. IoT as a phenomenon could still be considered a unmatured market and perhaps that’s why they’re struggling. I’m amazed by some of my friends “smart home” solutions but the sheer amount of useless implementations of IoT is astonishing. Businesses need to focus their product or service portfolios to ensure that they provide value (utility and warranty) to their customers. Value, not the hyped technology of the month.

Another example of technology not aligned with value is Nokia. Though technically superior (better sound, better antennas, better batteries, better microphones) the utility of a mobile phone had changed by 2007. Nokia’s was no longer in touch with their market. Their production was based on technology (hardware specifications), something the customers didn’t care for nor understood. Usability, style and entertainment was suddenly key. Their products no longer provided value and in just a few years, Nokia’s market shares had completely crashed.

Statistic: Global market share held by Nokia smartphones from 1st quarter 2007 to 2nd quarter 2013 | Statista

Global market share held by Nokia smartphones from 1st quarter 2007 to 2nd quarter 2013

Got any comments, remarks or questions? Please leave a comment.