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Don’t strike while the FOMO is hot: Technological adoption & digital transformation

Business and Enterprise

Posted on September 18, 2017

4 min read

Thanks to 4G and social media, the highlight reels of the lives of others often stir a jittery feeling. We sometimes find ourselves experiencing FOMO, or the “fear of missing out” and asking ourselves, “why am I not doing those things?”

FOMO is an experience that leaves some feeling like we really ought to do something more, something different, and something spectacular. In business, FOMO is real and needs to be addressed, especially in a time where both traditional companies and disruptive new entrants are fighting for market share and trying to outdo one another.

In a study on disruption that Telstra conducted last year, we learned that 97 percent of organisations already have a formal strategy in place to manage disruption, led by a CIO and actively supported by the CEO. The pressure then falls on the CIO to enable their organisation to disrupt itself using technology – an approach commonly referred to as “digital transformation”.

Companies across Asia are set to spend US$16.5 billion on digital transformation projects from now till 2020[1], yet 70 percent of these projects are expected to fail[2]. Here are three reasons why:

  1. Decision Making Driven by Technology-linked Activities

Imagine that Google releases Google Glass for consumers. In this scenario, some might rush to purchase the smart glasses without adequate research and consideration. By simply responding to the shine and novelty of new technology, one might not be privy to a whole host of challenges before it’s too late. These challenges might make a snap decision not worth the investment.

In the same way, businesses rushing to implement a new marketing technology stack just because their competitors are using the same does not make them “digital”. These businesses are missing the point. Many organisations think that technology is the panacea that solves all business problems. When technology is seen as a hammer, suddenly everything starts to look like a nail. But technology on its own cannot solve problems.

  1. Kicking Off Transformation Projects before Understanding Desired Business Outcomes

When businesses adopt a short-term view and plunge headfirst into unknown territory (or in other words, they strike while the FOMO is hot), they may soon find themselves in sticky situations – huge budgets might be spent without generating any real value, and they may find themselves too deep in to pull themselves out. In this instance, “digital” threatens to derail, rather than transform businesses.

Before starting on a digital transformation project, some questions companies should first ask themselves include:

  • What customer experience are we seeking?
  • What products and channels do we potentially want to be in?
  • What financial metric are we trying to drive?

Technology that works for other organisations might not work for others. Introspective moments like this can help prevent organisations from making snap decisions.

  1. Underestimating the Amount of Cultural Change That’s Required

Lastly, it’s not just about the execution or technology; a huge mindset shift is required for successful digital transformation. Digital transformation leads might be grappling with the “buy versus build” question when it comes to enterprise software and even talent. Our recommendation to businesses is: buy and build.

When the starting point is asking what key ingredients are required to achieve a certain outcome, the way is deliberately paved for a capability change (e.g. do we hire new talent; do we bring in an external consultant). This can then open the business up to a change in culture. Companies must recognise the need for management to endorse and drive this change, before integrating technology into the mix.

Technological Adoption & Digital Transformation: What You Need Instead?

As observers of companies that have fallen behind because they failed to anticipate the mobile revolution or the sharing economy, we have nurtured in ourselves a fear of missing out on the next “business-changing” technology. What then usually happens is that businesses buy a cool new piece of software or build new apps – and approximate that to “digital transformation”.

But as they say, hindsight is 20/20. When leaders take a step back and adopt a holistic view of a business problem, they will notice that adopting new technology for the sake of it does not actually drive transformation.

“Why am I not doing those things?” The answer is clear. Technology plays a mere supporting role. What companies really need is bona fide corporate transformation, with an emphasis on strategic innovation for the long-term, and shared ownership.

[1] IDC Digital Transformation Professional Services 2016-2020 Forecast, 2016

[2] IDC CIO Agenda FutureScape Prediction 4, 2016

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The FOMO is real: Businesses and compulsive technological adoption

Business and Enterprise

Posted on August 23, 2017

4 min read

Have you ever felt apprehensive at the thought of your peers having rewarding experiences from which you’ve been absent? If the answer is yes, you’ve been struck by FOMO, or the “fear of missing out”.

FOMO is real in the business world. Just as it is in the lives of consumers, technology is often the greatest FOMO generator. When you’re quizzed by a business leader on technology trends, what competitors are benefitting from and what your organisation should be adopting, your thoughts inevitably gravitate toward Big Data / mobile / cloud / artificial intelligence / Internet of Things – the shiny new things. The truth – these shiny new solutions will not instantly propel businesses out of cumbersome processes and into hyper-competitiveness.

While there is no doubt that technology can open new doors to innovation, it plays a mere supporting role. It is more essential that firms focus on two markers – “design thinking” and “design-to-zero,” which when overlapped with technology, constitute actual digital transformation.

Design Thinking that Generates Real Value for Customers

Imagine being the proud owner of the latest smart electric toothbrush – one that lets you play music and tracks your brushing performance. One might argue that it starts your day on the right note and improves oral hygiene. In reality, most of us would derive little to no value from these features. This idea was pitched to and rejected by Braun. If Braun had decided to adopt this technology, it would have been an example of succumbing to FOMO and putting a smart device out to market.

Thankfully, Braun decided instead to focus on two key issues that had been frustrating users – charging the device and ordering replacement batteries. The company applied design thinking and eventually added features to address these.

“Design thinking” is about embracing a user-experiential mind set and examining existing systems, products, and services from the customer’s or end-user’s perspective. It is not just a philosophy for product developers. In fact, all businesses should adopt this approach to identify what can be done to generate customer value and new market opportunities.

Using the principles of design thinking means everyone looks at the same problem but comes up with their own angle on how to address it. When these various perspectives intersect, design thinking leads to a point of innovation that is vital in any business.

Design-to-Zero and Frictionless Customer Experiences

Amazon is cornering the market on convenient and hassle-free shopping. Amazon Prime, Amazon Dash Wand and the upcoming Amazon Go form a trifecta that illustrates the company’s ambitions to drive shopping on their platform. The key to these services is this – a seamless, intuitive digital experience that minimises human interaction. So, herein lies the question: How can we redesign a business process so that there is zero human touch?

Adopting a ‘design-to-zero’ mindset means that your organisation tries to anticipate, understand and resolve pain points for the customer. When the customer experience is so seamless that it recedes from customer consciousness, your core product or service can take centre stage.

This is about delivering a frictionless journey from the moment the customer first engages with your brand. Amazon Go is a good example of design thinking that creates frictionless transactions in an offline setting. By eliminating lines and using an app-based solution for checkout, grocery-shopping becomes a breezy, painless and hassle-free experience from start to finish.

A Counterintuitive Approach to Digital Transformation

The term “digital” in digital transformation almost always prompts technology-led thinking. However, organisations must recognise that technological adoption does not equate to digital transformation. It might sound almost counterintuitive, but the path to achieving digital transformation will become clearer if businesses first look at what they are trying to achieve, instead of immediately putting on a technology lens.

For successful digital transformation, you need to define the problem you are trying to solve. You will then need some type of design or picture of what your model to address the problem will look like, as well as how you will address any issues that may then arise from potentially adopting a technology or operating within a newly created digital environment.

FOMO takes place when business leaders are afraid of missing out on something or not being where things are really happening, and more so in a time where industries and economies everywhere are being disrupted by new business models. By being the voice of calm and reason, and leading an approach that incorporates “design thinking” and “design-to-zero”, you can help your organisation curate and adopt the right technology where necessary, not out of sheer anxiety or desperation, but for the long-term benefit of your organisation and its customers.

Social eye for the corporate guy

Technology - can we live without it? (I can’t!)

Social change or just more (e)mail?