App Development

Five Things We Learned at the Forrester Digital Transformation 2016 Conference

Just spent two great days at Forrester Digital Transformation 2016 in Orlando. I’m always impressed with the Forrester team as a whole一all brilliant, but more importantly, incredibly approachable and willing to get into a dialogue (even if it’s a dialogue challenging some of their ideas).

The big takeaway this year was that digital transformation is fundamentally a human activity that needs to be driven, at least primarily, by culture and values. There was very little talk of tools and platforms (though there are a ton of great options). Instead, talk was focused on organization, culture, and incentives. The bottom line, how do you get an entrenched company of tens or hundreds-of-thousands to innovate like a Silicon Valley start-up? It’s an incredibly difficult question to answer, but great examples were offered and all of them centered around companies finding business partners that were a great match culturally.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Software is Taking Over the World: Domino’s has had incredible success transforming itself – the stock price was under $4 in 2008 and is now over $120! JP Morgan analyst, John Ivankoe, put it best when he said, “Domino’s is a technology company disguised as a marketing company disguised as a pizza company.” We believe this concept really applies to every company. At the end of the day, we are all becoming technology companies driven by software.
  2. Our Relationships with Brands are Fundamentally Emotional: Anjali Lai ( @anjalilai ) did a wonderful job laying out the science of emotional engagement. Our relationships with brands are based on how we feel (i.e. how quickly the brand interacts with us and how positive, productive, and efficient that interaction is, etc.). Technology is one tool brands have to improve that relationship, but fundamentally, companies need to look at every process from a customer perspective and re-invent their core interactions, leveraging technology where possible. Forrester data shows grateful and appreciated consumers are 2X more likely to seek out a brand.
  3. True Agile is Still a Dream: Everyone I talked to uses agile methods, but no one is truly agile. But maybe that’s OK. “AgileFall” may really be the best approach in many cases. The reality is that large organizations need to have rollout schedules for technology and they have marketing campaigns around them. So, being truly agile in a Silicon-Valley sense just isn’t realistic. That said, a lot can be used from agile methods, including sprints and sprint planning, as well as team organization to maximize flow and productive hours, etc. Jeffrey Hammond ( @jhammond ) really hit this concept on the head with his “From Perfect to Fast” presentation that pushes large companies to take more risks and not aim for “perfect” launches. All, of course, in the context of the constraints they have.
  4. Procurement Departments Traditional RFPs Kill Innovation: Liz Herbert ( @lizherbert ) hit the nail on the head when discussing how companies should select digital partners or mobile agencies. Fundamentally an “hour” of development is not a fungible commodity, so having procurement departments push vendors to the lowest possible hourly cost is counter-productive. Outcomes and innovation are the true measures of success, but unfortunately, they’re also very difficult to quantify. Selecting the right digital agency or app development company should be done predominantly through face-to-face meetings and by giving the selected companies a challenge or a project. It’s through these activities you will see how they think and how dedicated they are to the project.
  5. Digital Transformation is Driven by Humans and so comes with all our human frailties. This was really the overriding theme of the conference. Domino’s spent lots of time reorganizing itself so it could see the world from its customer’s eyes, and then use technology to make it better. Companies that are experiencing digital success are taking the time upfront to create common goals and a common language, both internally and with their partners. Their partner selection is also a critical process to get right, and companies must find a partner that is a deep cultural fit.

Thanks also to Michael Facemire ( @ASocialFace ) for running a great conference. The only downer was that his Pens beat my Caps. Maybe next year we won’t win the President’s Trophy but the Stanley Cup instead.

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