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Digital transformation starts with “dreams and details”

Digital transformation starts with “dreams and details” July 26, 2018Leave a comment

My inspiration for the words “dreams and details” comes from a keynote presentation by Jim Hagemann Snabe, as well as his recent book of the same name. For me, Jim’s concept perfectly describes the foundation for every company’s digital transformation.

Just about every great company is founded on a good deal of imagination. But rapidly accelerating progress in technology has massively reduced the shelf life of even great ideas. The period of stability between industry disruptions is shrinking fast, yet companies atrophy as the world changes around them. It requires more than imagination to stay relevant – it requires constant re-imagination. A dream.

To survive digital disruption, the World Economic Forum believes “incumbent companies must re-tool and re-think every element of their business.” Sunk investments must give way to innovation and technology that will spark new opportunities where once there were only barriers. Opportunities like the falling cost and increasing capabilities of technology can open up new avenues, and can bring even more fundamental change to the way people live and work.

Digital dreams provide the anchor. The details then provide the roadmap of initiatives that accrue to those dreams. They provide the framework around which to organize, prioritize, and constantly calibrate. Thinking through the details of a digital dream can often lead to interesting new revenue streams not apparent at the outset.

For instance, one of the largest banks in France, has been in the auto leasing business for decades through its subsidiary ALD Automotive – managing over 1.4 million vehicles across 48 countries. Given the rapidly changing landscape of commuter transportation, new challenges follow. What if auto leasing customers need to park at commuter stations and take public transport? Can a driver access interchangeable fleet resources? How do they accommodate customers as they travel to other cities? 

Société Générale partnered with Microsoft to re-imagine a new auto leasing customer experience as cities and urban living evolve. With digital advisory services, AI/machine learning capabilities, Azure and IoT devices, we are partnering to realize a range of solutions like car-sharing strategies, bundled mobility services, flexible payment options and digital telematics.

But “Re-imagining” is easier said than done. And it’s often constrained by current business success, but we see a few simple ways to break through…

1/ Start with envisioning the “Art of the Possible.” Invest time in creating your dream and identifying your breakthroughs through facilitated workshops. This is an area where we have significantly scaled up our digital advisory capability to partner with our customers.

2/ Create the right environment for unfettered thinking through an “inclusive design” process that bring together a diversity of talent from different backgrounds and experiences, to industries and thinking. Remember, as I shared in Learning #1, finding the right opportunity to harness, or the right problem to solve for, is much harder than solving a hard problem!

3/ Think of the right framework to translate your dream into details. At Microsoft, we use four key pillars to guide the digital transformation journey of our customers: Engaging customers; Empowering employees; Optimizing operations; and Transforming products and business models.

4/ Use a good algorithm to prioritize and constantly calibrate the details into a living digital roadmap. We use a “Digital Maturity Model” which constantly learns and helps assess digital maturity relative to each company’s vision and their industry peers.

5/ Finally, get started!

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