Panel: Fear and poor execution holding digital change back

A panel of IT and digital leaders debates the core ingredients required for digital transformation

Being a digital-first business requires learning how to be brave, to move quickly, and to embrace completely new ways of working, a leading chief digital officer claims.

Speaking at Harvey Nash’s annual industry debate, focused this year on digital strategy, culture and structure, Network Ten’s CDO, Rebekah Horne, said Australian organisations have historically held a reputation for “giving things a go”. It’s this attitude that needs to flourish in order to cope with digital disruption and drive the innovative thinking required to remain successful, she said.

“The big challenge is that you have to put a lot of time and effort into taking people on the journey [of digital innovation], and that can be difficult if you are someone who is trying to move the organisation to more agile ways of working - it causes friction,” she told attendees.

“You see quite defensive organisations trying to hold onto the mother ship and rather than being opportunistic, they’re defensive about the things happening to them.”

With so many organisations still delivering quarterly results and market size growth from existing channels and business models, Horne and her fellow panellists agreed the transformation and rapid innovation necessary to become a truly digitised business is hard for most to embrace.

“Too many organisations are desperately holding onto existing business models, rather than looking ahead,” Horne said.

Ask most digitally savvy organisations today for a core structural change they’ve made to improve the way they work and you’re most likely to hear Agile methodology, or iterative product and services thinking, in response. Horne was no different, advocating for a rethink of structural processes internally.

Australia Post executive general manager and CIO, Andrew Walduck, said transitioning to a digital-first world also requires fostering greater creative capacity, not just driving efficiencies. In response to a question on whether technology automation and digitisation would remove some of the need for human intervention in innovation, Walduck was adamant people were more important than ever.

“That’s what innovation is all about: Moving from production efficiency to creative capacity is what enables the ideas that disrupt us and allow us to embrace new ways of working,” he said. “We want them [staff] to create new things and fundamental change.”

According to Walduck, the ideas are often already there; the problem is execution and taking the time to disrupt and challenge internal systems and culture to make change happen.

“The real problem is resource allocation,” continued Adam Rigby, the founder and CEO of Nabo, a social networking platform for local neighbourhoods.

“All too often the old-world business is making ten times as much money as the digital business. So all the resources are in the old business and keep doing that. Yet then someone comes along - a complete outsider – and disrupts it all.”

For Horne, a key ingredient in minimising the fear factor around digital change is articulating a vision for what the future looks like. This also comes down to deciding on which part of the new digital value chain you want to represent, she said.

In the media industry, for instance, there is less value in distribution today and more value in owning and producing content, Horne said.

“You have to now think about how you can redefine the business you’re in. You may never be a billion-dollar business again – you might be a really nice multi-million dollar one but with a better profit margin,” she said.

“This [digital innovation] needs investment, it means risk, and a significant ability to execute quickly,” Horne added. “You almost need to just let go and do stuff because you can’t get there without being brave.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO Australia conversation on LinkedIn: CMO Australia, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+: google.com/+CmoAu

Join the CMO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Supporting Association

Blog Posts

Is AI on course to take over human creativity?

Computers and artificial intelligence have come along at an exponential rate over the past few decades, from being regarded as oversized adding machines to the point where they have played integral roles in some legitimately creative endeavours.

Jason Dooris

CEO and founder, Atomic 212

Are you leading technology changes or is technology leading you?

In a recent conversation with a chief technology officer, he asserted all digital technology changes in his organisation were being led by IT and not by marketing. It made me wonder: How long a marketing function like this could survive?

Jean-Luc Ambrosi

Author, marketer

Disruption Down Under – What’s Amazon’s real competitive advantage?

Savvy shoppers wait in anticipation, while Australian retailers are gearing up for the onslaught. Amazon’s arrival is imminent.

Thanks for a very interesting article. B2B marketing seems tricky. I think that marketing plays a vital part - it can build the brand and...

Aaren

From tactical overhead to strategic growth driver: B2B marketing in the digital age

Read more

meanwhile loads of people with digital skills are not finding work or getting an opportunity to be hired?? Double standards perhaps.

Graduate dying on centrelink

Report reveals Australia faces digital skills shortage

Read more

These laws are in one way or other giving businesses to VPN service providers & other cyber utilities. Just read PureVPN claiming 37%...

Paige Hudson

Getting prepared for mandatory data breach reporting

Read more

Great Post.Thanks for sharing such an informative article.I have worked with Ally Digital Media and it has a very good service which is b...

Utkarsh Kansara

Predictions: 17 digital marketing trends for 2017

Read more

Really inspiring !

Goldenboy Media

Jaywing sets sights on Australian growth with digital and data-driven agency model

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in