Ask the Expert: What Is the Worst Way to Approach Digital Transformation?

Lindsay Herbert is an expert on the subject of digital transformation — she even wrote the book on it. She has received international praise for her book Digital Transformation, which gives a practical and direct approach to innovation that dispels the myths behind the business world’s most infamous buzzword.

Herbert is currently Global Chief Innovation Officer, IBM Garage GBS, where she advises the leaders of major companies on how to further their innovation agendas, as well as creating breakthrough technologies for IBM itself. Her most recent invention is the IBM Instant Checkout, a revolutionary innovation for retail. This ground-breaking technology has resulted in international media coverage, including BBC World News and a segment on BBC Click.

Herbert will be presenting the Opening Keynote session at HITEC Europe 2020, which will take place April 21-23 at the Palau de Congressos Convention Center in Palma, Mallorca, Spain.

Herbert has taken to her LinkedIn to answer some important questions surrounding the idea of digital transformation and how to create real innovation in business.

In anticipation of her keynote presentation, Never Say “Digital Transformation” — How to Actually Innovate, here are some valuable tips of what to do and what not to do, straight from the expert herself:

This question is a two-part: There is a tie, in my book.

The worst way is to have a separate team — a totally separate entity — that is only in charge of innovation. They’re going to have cool offices and bean bag chairs and everyone’s going to wear jeans to work. They’re going to create lots of prototypes, and they’re going to test those prototypes with real users, and those users are going to give feedback, and they’re going to have nice real results. But, they are not going to be able to scale a single one of those prototypes — and the reason is because they have not been properly integrated in the rest of the business.

Even if the idea is good, and the results from the users have been good, the effort that needs to go into scaling something is so much bigger than the effort needed to prototype. If you want that manager in the traditional part of the business to really put that effort in — give up some of their budget, their people and resources — they have to be just as invested as the people in the bean bag chairs coming up with the cool ideas. They have to be in that part.

So, please stop creating these separate innovation centres, units, labs. If you want to have that as a co-working space and a collaboration environment, great. Make sure that the people from the traditional parts of the business spend just as much time in those cool work environments working with the innovation people as the innovation people are working on their own.

Because, otherwise, all you have done is created another silo. You are going to give a bad name to innovation and to digital because everyone is going to look at it as something that is a fun, little thing for people to play with but it never results in business outcomes — anything real, anything scalable.

[It is] to expect people to do it off the sides of their desk. To just do it as a part of their job. As just another item on the to-do list. What this means is they are not getting the head space, they aren’t getting the resources, the time or the sources of inspiration to really critically look at what the business is meant to be doing for its audiences and understanding the ways it could be achieving those goals.

So, instead, what you end up with are people who will just “optimize” instead of “innovate.” They’ll make things a little bit faster, a little bit cheaper and a little bit easier. But, be careful with this. Because “optimization” can often look like “innovation” until you realize that you’ve optimized yourself into being disrupted by a major competitor.

Take for example, Blockbuster. They optimized perfectly. They had a really great website. They had a really great social media strategy. Their stores ran really well. They optimized, and optimized… and completely ignored the competitive threat that required true innovation for them to be able to offset. They optimized themselves into obscurity.

If you’re going to start digital transformation, or if you have already started and recognize any of these signs — stop and rethink. It is not too late. You can adjust what it is that you’re doing. It really will mean the difference between “actual innovation” and either optimization or even just people feeling disgruntled and fed up with “digital.”

Now you know a few things NOT to do when it comes to “Digital Transformation.” What next?

How do you learn what “digital transformation” truly is and how to make it work for your business? In her Opening Keynote presentation at HITEC Europe 2020, which will be based on her book, Herbert is determined to set the record straight about what real transformation is, and how every company in the hospitality sector can achieve it. 

Herbert will reveal the three critical rules for achieving real innovation success. In each, she will share her own hard-won lessons, as well as from company leaders worldwide. You will leave with practical advice, inspiring examples, and the cautionary tales needed to turn your company into one that knows how to dodge the hype and adapt to change itself.

You can get more answers from Herbert on LinkedIn, where she addresses other great questions including “What makes a great digital transformation leader?” and “What makes a terrible digital transformation leader?“.

Register to Attend HITEC Europe 2020 Today

Herbert’s session will take place on the second day of HITEC Europe 2020. Be sure to attend her session in Auditorium Mallorca, Level 1 from 12:00 to 13:30 on Wednesday, April 22.

Register to attend HITEC Europe online and start planning your agenda. When you are done registering, be sure to book your hotel and travel to beautiful Mallorca, Spain.

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About the Author: Briana Gilmore