2017, The year of Surrealists of Digitalization
Year 2016 has been incredible! Lot of big surprises but on contrary some very predictable events as well.
We can list down some big surprises which only few expected to happen; Christiano Ronaldo scoring Portugal to European Championship in Eurogames at Paris, Leicester City beat the giants and took the silverware in Premier League, Britons are leaving EU after voting "Yes" for Brexit and US presidential election turned to result which very few of us predicted at the beginning of the campaign. However, as a contrary for these uncertainties, some very predictable ‘safe bets’ came true as well. Finland lost its changes to Football World Cup, Gävle Goat (Gävle Bocken) was burned down before the Christmas Eve regardless of all possible precautions, and the pace for the digitalization was getting all times highest, like it does year after year.
Tieto was not focusing to all of the events above, but the latest one we took quite seriously in 2016 by establishing many new start-up units to harness the value of digitalization and concluded a very massive amount of projects, pilots and proof of concepts with our customers to transfer their business models and operations into the new normal.
In general we can say that the speed of digitalization is coming faster year after year. This high way of digitalization requires lot of attention, it creates opportunities and it boils great degree of pressure or threats for many companies whose competitors are promoting their already started digitalization activities in publicity. All of these with a marketing hype crust is making companies nervous: What to do with the digitalization? Are we lacking behind? How do we avoid a fire fighting and risk of mis-investments by shooting to sky and starting multiple digitalization projects with low or no coordination at all? Do we have any competencies to start with? What should we do, how should we start?
Based on my notes from 2016, I was involved in 45 different digitalization projects or proof of concepts during the year. Mostly in the early phases of the projects defining the vision, but on top of that following roughly 10 projects of pilots from the kick off to the finishing line. Based on the observations from those 45 projects I tried to summarize the key activities needed in order to build a mastery.
- Carpe Diem. Digitalization is happening with accelerating speed. It will happen, it will change the industry you are operating in, and you need to choose if you use the opportunities it offers, or suffer as a victim of threats. Commitment from the top required for the very first pilot.
- Create a Frame. Build up a digitalization strategy and craft your future business model scenarios. Be bold and open minded. If you just select people from our own organization with a great heritage of something you have done until now, their mindset might be limited into only small incremental improvements. Get external views, create at least two wilder scenarios to complement your main digital strategy. Organizational inertia is the biggest threat for future success.
- Accelerate Innovation and be surrealistic. Compose cross functional and heterogeneous teams with external views to find ways how you de-compose you frame into smaller steps. Use hackathons or dev ops teams to explore and pilot. Think about the great surrealist artists like Salvador Dali or René Magritte, who tried to see the traditional in a new perspective. What is surrealism for your operations or business?
- Invest into foundation. If you don’t yet have a clear view what does digitalization mean for your organization, start to collect the data. Data will be like a crude oil in the future. Build your reserve, and you can build your ‘data finery’ later on.
- Be systematic and patient, this is change management not a technological silver bullet. Measure the baseline, do your improvements and evaluate the results. Try to find the easy quick wins at the beginning, promote the results, and hire the advocates for the changes. If you are not able to find safe bets for quick wins, select an area where you can fail fast, learn and re-iterate. Wins will follow.
I think that during 2017 we will see many surrealists of digitalization. We will see companies in manufacturing industry which are making a competitive advantage for themselves by seeing the traditional differently.
Merry Christmas and Surrealistic New Year 2017!
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