Time To Put The Mojo Back Into Digital Transformation

episode of DisruptTV, where he voiced concern over the diminishing returns of enterprise software and digital transformation projects. "We're just doing the same old stuff over and over again, trying to evolve models that no longer work, create futures that nobody understands, that are just too complicated," Kolsky says. Enterprise leaders "don’t know what data transformation is, they don’t know what cloud is, they don’t know what big data is. We're stuck trying to propel our own insecurities into the enterprise stack, and trying to make that work."

Photo: Joe McKendrick

Is everyone just getting jaded by or just had their fill of the constant noise around enterprise digital transformation? "I just feel that organizations look tired," says Wang. "They're running tired. This is something new, but they just don’t have the energy."

Being constantly bombarded with messages to go digital in a wide assortment of ways -- without clear explanations of timelines or impacts -- may be wearing on enterprise decision-makers, Kolsky agrees. "We're overhyping technologies. Let's be honest. We're selling stuff that nobody's going to use with models and ideas that people don't understand, based on perpetually evolving complex and more expensive things that really don’t deliver the value."  He notes how when CRM systems first surfaced in the early 2000s, "we were complaining about spending five years and $20 million on deploying CRM implementation that didn’t deliver any value. "That was 2002. This is 2019. What's the difference?"

People are still pinning too much emphasis on glitzy technology, and not enough on delivering value to customers, Kolsky explains. "The bottom line for any company is really simple -- to build value for the customer, and build value for the company at the same time. That’s it. Everything else is just BS. I don’t care what engagement is. I don’t care what CRM is. I don’t care what big data is."

Part of the problem as well, Kolsky adds, is that he and other analysts and industry watchers who publish and promote digital success stories may operate in a "bubble" which misses the 98% to 99% of organizations in the mainstream that are struggling and still learning how technologies can deliver results. This requires greater levels of storytelling to convey the positive impacts of enterprise technology. "We're exposed to the executive levels of companies that most people will never even be able to get to," he says. "We are talking to people that understand this, but for the 98-99% of the rest, this is stuff that is incredibly overwhelming, incredibly overhyped." The hype around AI is only the latest example of the hype that is perplexing many executives, he says.

Storytelling needs to look at successful companies that relate how "data transformation, digital transformation, AI initiatives, and automation focus on how you produce value creation between you and the customer," Kolsky says. "The reason we're bored, the reason innovation is not told, the reason the stories are not shared, the reason lessons learned are not adopted, are, number one, corporate politics, and number two, the fact that people don’t have resiliency and they don’t have sustainability in their jobs."

Greater sharing of information and education about the benefits of digital transformation and technology is the challenge ahead for industry thought leaders as well. "It's our responsibility to scale that story, to get it to thousands tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of practitioners who today have no idea how to move the needle," Afshar agrees. "We need to come up with a way to sustainably scale the distribution and telling of these stories. "We see something, we know the technology is there, we have this amazing potentially disruptive capability and what's keeping us from moving the needle forward. We need to know who's selling what to whom, and how all the stakeholders benefit from it. We need an innovation college, where we teach about more than just the shiny objects."

 

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Has enterprise technology become boring? Yes -- very much so, say some astute observers of the enterprise technology scene.

Esteban Kolsky recently joined Vala Afshar and R. Ray Wang on an episode of DisruptTV, where he voiced concern over the diminishing returns of enterprise software and digital transformation projects. "We're just doing the same old stuff over and over again, trying to evolve models that no longer work, create futures that nobody understands, that are just too complicated," Kolsky says. Enterprise leaders "don’t know what data transformation is, they don’t know what cloud is, they don’t know what big data is. We're stuck trying to propel our own insecurities into the enterprise stack, and trying to make that work."

Photo: Joe McKendrick

Is everyone just getting jaded by or just had their fill of the constant noise around enterprise digital transformation? "I just feel that organizations look tired," says Wang. "They're running tired. This is something new, but they just don’t have the energy."

Being constantly bombarded with messages to go digital in a wide assortment of ways -- without clear explanations of timelines or impacts -- may be wearing on enterprise decision-makers, Kolsky agrees. "We're overhyping technologies. Let's be honest. We're selling stuff that nobody's going to use with models and ideas that people don't understand, based on perpetually evolving complex and more expensive things that really don’t deliver the value."  He notes how when CRM systems first surfaced in the early 2000s, "we were complaining about spending five years and $20 million on deploying CRM implementation that didn’t deliver any value. "That was 2002. This is 2019. What's the difference?"

People are still pinning too much emphasis on glitzy technology, and not enough on delivering value to customers, Kolsky explains. "The bottom line for any company is really simple -- to build value for the customer, and build value for the company at the same time. That’s it. Everything else is just BS. I don’t care what engagement is. I don’t care what CRM is. I don’t care what big data is."

Part of the problem as well, Kolsky adds, is that he and other analysts and industry watchers who publish and promote digital success stories may operate in a "bubble" which misses the 98% to 99% of organizations in the mainstream that are struggling and still learning how technologies can deliver results. This requires greater levels of storytelling to convey the positive impacts of enterprise technology. "We're exposed to the executive levels of companies that most people will never even be able to get to," he says. "We are talking to people that understand this, but for the 98-99% of the rest, this is stuff that is incredibly overwhelming, incredibly overhyped." The hype around AI is only the latest example of the hype that is perplexing many executives, he says.

Storytelling needs to look at successful companies that relate how "data transformation, digital transformation, AI initiatives, and automation focus on how you produce value creation between you and the customer," Kolsky says. "The reason we're bored, the reason innovation is not told, the reason the stories are not shared, the reason lessons learned are not adopted, are, number one, corporate politics, and number two, the fact that people don’t have resiliency and they don’t have sustainability in their jobs."

Greater sharing of information and education about the benefits of digital transformation and technology is the challenge ahead for industry thought leaders as well. "It's our responsibility to scale that story, to get it to thousands tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of practitioners who today have no idea how to move the needle," Afshar agrees. "We need to come up with a way to sustainably scale the distribution and telling of these stories. "We see something, we know the technology is there, we have this amazing potentially disruptive capability and what's keeping us from moving the needle forward. We need to know who's selling what to whom, and how all the stakeholders benefit from it. We need an innovation college, where we teach about more than just the shiny objects."

 

I am an author, independent researcher and speaker exploring innovation, information technology trends and markets. I am also a co-author of the SOA Manifesto, which out...