There are those who find the digital revolution-in-the-making the most exciting opportunity to shake the world of commerce since the invention of the internet. There are others who find it scary, overwhelming and/or mystifying. And (many?) others who find it all a complete turn-off.
A better way of defining the camps might be to say that there are those that get it, and those that don’t. And despite, or more probably because of, all the noise and focus on the subject, I would hazard that the only ones who really get it are already digital aficionados. The people who need to be convinced, converted, engaged, have largely given up even trying to understand how digital might impact them/their jobs.
There is a number of reasons for this apathy. You only have to look at the sea of recruitment ads seeking Digital Transformation leaders or subject matter experts to realize that there is no common definition of what is digital. Additionally, the job descriptions, as you would expect, all position the role of digital as the great white hope of the future. But what does that imply about the value and future of the non-digital model, in which the majority of the workforce currently operates?
It may be that the future operating model of many businesses will become increasingly driven by digital capabilities, however research conducted in late 2013 by MIT Sloan Management Review and Capgemini Consulting revealed that “a mere 7% of executives said that their company’s digital initiatives were helping them to launch new businesses. And only 15% said digital was helping them to create new business model.” For business leaders wanting to engage their employees and customers in their digital aspirations, the moral of this story seems to be “don’t bite the hand that feeds you”.
As background to the subject of this blog, I’ve found some very good articles about the role and positioning of digital.
The article by Manchester-based consultancy Discerning Digital entitled What’s the difference between IT and Technology used a simple but effective analogy to help the layman understand the relationship between the two and provides a good, basic introduction to the whole subject.
An HBR article published in January this year entitled The Best Digital Business Models Put Evolution Before Revolution was a much less excitable, more balanced and therefore more engaging article than 90% of those written about the opportunity of digital.
I have recently moved to Jersey in the Channel Islands where I need a license before I can ply my trade as a communications practitioner. While I wait to find out if my application for a license has been successful, I’ve been reading up on the “Digital Jersey” initiative. The stated purpose of Digital Jersey is:
“….to act as an accelerator for the digital economy and as an accelerator
for a digitally enabled society. The digital economy includes the digital sector
itself and the application of technology across all sectors.”
As a communicator and someone who has been involved in a number of digital initiatives over the past few years, I have re-read this Purpose Statement and dipped in and out of their dedicated website but have no real understanding of the Digital Jersey vision and their route map to achieving the vision. Maybe if I get my license, I can help address this!
I’ve mentioned a couple of articles I found helpful. An article in techie e-magazine ZDNet called Everyone is ‘going digital,’ but just what does that mean? appeared to be good background reading for this blog. The best bits came at the beginning and the end. In the opening paragraph, the author references a useful acronym created by business and technology services conglomerate Cognizant as their definition of digital: SMAC – Social, Media, Analytics and Cloud. Evidently needing to add his insights rather than simply plagiarise the Cognizant definition, the author spoils it with the proposed addition of two more aspects – Consumerisation of IT and big data – big, made-up sounding word and more jargon = big turn-off. However, the bit of the article that particularly resonated with me was his conclusion:
To understand digital, you have to understand the “why.”
For anyone involved in launching, promoting or even considering a digital initiative, this is a good point to keep in mind.