Engage APAC Speaker Spotlight – Llew Jury on Avoiding AI for AI’s Sake

Engage APAC Spotlight: Removing the Fear from 'Digital Transformation'

In the lead up to Acquia Engage Asia Pacific ( Acquia Engage APAC), we’ll be taking time out with some of our conference speakers to discover what they’ll be discussing at the event, why it’s important and what attendees will take away from their sessions.

This week, we sat down with Brittany Fox, marketing campaign strategist at Deloitte Digital, to define and demystify the term “digital transformation,” as well as laying out a few ground rules to prevent projects from snowballing into unwieldy, slow-moving and never-ending nightmares.

Brittany, at this year’s Acquia Engage APAC, you’ll be speaking about digital transformation — why this topic, in particular?

Digital transformation has been a hot topic for a while and has unfortunately become a bit of a vague and all-encompassing term. Unlocking what our clients mean by digital transformation is our first step. Most commonly, we find that when our clients are asking for help with digital transformations, what they are really saying is “we’re trying to do a million different things but don’t know where to start.” Our next step is to help organizations define and potentially change the way they’re thinking about transformation; for example, how can you truly evaluate all the digital opportunities available to you if you’re fixed on delivering a rigid five-year road map? By year two of the five-year journey, you need to be open to changing plans to focus and test what’s working and eliminate initiatives that aren’t adding value to your transformation. Our role is to guide a business through the various options, paying special attention to common challenges when adopting change.

What’s your definition of digital transformation?

Digital transformation is simply a vehicle for change and an ongoing plan for incremental improvements, so your business is always getting closer to what you’d like its future state to be. Never sitting still; doing the things we should be doing, rather than the status quo of what we do for business as usual (BAU). We can’t rely on just technology to transform and “fix” businesses. The reality is that, like any project, you need to look at what you want to achieve, then position that in-line with your budget, capabilities, skillset and technology.

Why do you feel organizations often get bogged down in such big plans?

Most businesses have lots of old legacy systems and processes that may have worked for them in the past and have, as a result, remained unchanged for years. When these organizations decide to undertake a transformation, there’s pressure to change everything almost overnight. This is driven by the ambivalent feelings of excitement — of realising new opportunities — and fear of being left behind by competitors. Often, when we start speaking to an organization, some staff members will have genuine fears about the process and the potential changes — and in some cases leave the business — whereas other staff members say “we’ve been waiting for this, I’m so excited!” There’s a change culture around digital transformation; for some, that’s exciting, for others, it’s scary. The business has to be ready for transformation and the cultural shift it requires, but it also needs to take staff on the journey and focus on the positives of the change.

The time frame for a transformation depends entirely on the client’s appetite for change as well as their resources, culture, budget and digital maturity. We’re currently coming to the end of a project where we’re launching four different platforms across nine different business units within the space of twelve months; but we’ve had other projects where it took a full three months simply to develop the road map.

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Do you feel that most organizations have the skills, internally, to undertake a full transformation unaided?

I think it’s less about skill set and more about culture. If your business doesn’t have the culture to keep educating staff and pushing them to think outside the box, then that’s the biggest problem. Transformation of the business includes transformation of its team; if your team consists of people who want to do the same thing they’ve done every day for years and not try to improve or think of new and better ways to help customers, you’ll struggle. However, that’s where bringing in a digital partner, like Deloitte Digital, can really help because we can act almost as a coach to try to change that mindset. Staff do not need necessarily to understand the technology, but they do need to understand the digital end point that they want to reach.

Another common mistake is when organizations task staff with a digital transformation project on top of their existing roles; it’s very hard for those people to become motivated and excited about making changes as they feel overloaded, which slows down the whole project. When staff are dedicated solely to digital transformation, it can have a huge impact on the success of a project. It’s also crucial to celebrate your B players. We can’t all be the big thinkers and it’s the people doing the hard yards who will make the transformation happen, so you need to keep them happy and feeling valued.

What do you hope delegates will take away from your session?

Confidence. I don’t want people to be afraid of the phrase “digital transformation.” It’s a well-treaded path, it’s been around since the nineties and it’s not one-size-fits-all. I want people to realize they’re not alone; they can’t bury their heads in the sand, but they also shouldn’t fear that if the transformation isn’t radical or big enough that they’ll fail or get left behind.

To find out more information about the Acquia Engage APAC conference, or to register, visit apacengage.acquia.com.

Nicole Stirling, marketing director, Asia Pacific & Japan, Acquia

Nicole Stirling

Marketing Director, Asia Pacific & Japan Acquia

Nicole Stirling has more than 15 years’ experience working as a marketing professional, with 10 of those years creating go-to-market strategies for B2B software businesses operating in Australia and New Zealand.

As Acquia's marketing director for Asia Pacific & Japan, she is responsible for our Asia Pacific go-to-market strategy and execution across all things marketing: demand generation and digital programs, PR and communications, regional content strategy and development, field marketing, event management, regional partner and customer marketing, and performance reporting.