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Minter Dial

DigitalProof Consultancy


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What forces are threatening to disrupt your business?


Although disruption is on everyone’s lips and headlines many of today’s business conferences, the reality is that very few companies are fully leveraging the disruptive forces in a way that will deliver success in a durable manner.

Time and again, we see digital transformation programmes failing (84% of all programmes do so, according to PulsePoint research).

The failure is in part because of the changing and complex nature of the disruptive forces, but the bigger challenge is with figuring out the necessary soft tissue cultural shifts and adopting the right mindset. Just as sales and marketing have undergone a seismic shift with the changing customer needs and expectations, the way executives lead and companies operate also needs to change.

While one of the trendier ideas has been to assign ‘digital’ to a singular person in the form of a Chief Digital Officer, there are other rather unorthodox or creative titles that have been adopted in an effort to signal if not lead change. These include the likes of Chief Customer Officer, Chief Innovation Officer or Chief Evangelist.

However, transformation cannot be delegated to any one individual. And, more importantly, when it comes to onboarding many of these technological forces, there is a requisite transition if not transformation at an organisational level.

For change to occur, the empirical evidence in larger organisations is that it must come from the top. Our conviction, if not obsession, is that all members of the C-suite must adopt the right mindset. Each should have the Chief Mindset Officer hat on in addition to their regular function.

The key characteristics of the Chief Mindset Officer:

·      Relentless curiosity – with an insatiable desire for continuous learning

·      Openness – to new ideas, people, systems and platforms

·      Networking – connected with all types of people within and outside of the organisation

·      Geek quotient – a healthy appetite to become more techy, even to learn coding…

·      Jack of all trades – moving from being a master of one (T-shaped expertise) to a jack or master of many (‘comb-shaped expertise’) trades

·      Empathy – with the heightened ability to think and feel in the shoes of others

·      Congruent – a personal sense of purpose that is aligned with the company’s

·      Hands on – unafraid to roll up one’s sleeves and try things oneself

·      Connecting the dots & people – making sure to look for patterns and to tie the seemingly disparate ideas and people together

·      Focused – making sure that one’s actions are tightly aligned with one’s North setting.

The three less obvious disruptive forces for HR

My fellow author, Caleb Storkey, and I have identified the 12 technological forces we believe will be most disruptive over the coming five years. Not all the forces are relevant to everyone. Moreover, none of the forces live in isolation, so it is all about finding the right cocktail of technologies that will help drive one’s strategic intent.

The key may sound obvious, but is far too often overlooked: to establish a clear, shared and well communicated strategy.

For anyone in HR, there are three disruptive forces – the web, smartphone and big data analytics – that are most evident and generally top of mind.

How can IoT be used internally to improve one’s processes? What might be the ethical implications of collecting data 24/7?

However, these technologies have now been around for many years, and new usages and opportunities are being created every day. Thus, what worked in the past is hardly a guarantee for what will work tomorrow.

While we would be keen to explore how HR should be considering these three areas differently going forward, in this article, we would like to focus on three other potentially less obvious forces that will be increasingly important over the near to medium-term.

1. Artificial intelligence

First, companies need to figure out how (not if) artificial intelligence (AI) can be used. This could include roles or functions that involve analysis of complex or large data sets, or repetitive actions and processes.

AI could be used for those parts of the business that require predictions and insights, or improving speed of reaction. In marketing, it might be for facilitating mass personalisation. In many cases, AI is only as good as the data (and programming, of course) that one puts in.

There are phenomenal use cases in areas such as customer service and customer relations, as well as in use of social media – including for content creation and distribution optimisation.

AI could also have its role in diverse areas such as research for new product development, dynamic digital pricing, or empathic chatbots. In short, the opportunities for AI are boundless. Thus, it becomes critical to make sure to restrain the scope, at least at the beginning, to one’s core strategy.

We like how Google Digital Marketing evangelist, Avinash Kaushik, implored in a recent podcast with Mitch Joel, “Have you got your AI army recruited, yet?”

2. The Internet of Things

Second, the Internet of Things (IoT) will provide scores of opportunities, including in the conception of products and services. From an operational standpoint, IoT is in the process of breaking out thanks to the growing penetration in homes of voice-operated smart speakers, such as Amazon Echo, Google Home, etc.

As more and more objects become connected with ever smaller sensors, the opportunities to collect new forms of data (especially on the move and at point of sale) and to interact with customers in different ways will multiply.

From an HR angle, there will be important questions about the potential use of employee’s genetic information.

As Jim Hunter wrote, “The reason sensors are so important is because they provide context”. And with better context, content becomes decidedly more relevant and more effective.

It is not hard to imagine how IoT could change the nature of digital storytelling, interactive communications and data collection. For example, what if your apparel was equipped to geo-locate and identify the wearer about new deals and, with a specified kinetic recognition, one could one-swipe a positive answer.

How can IoT be used internally to improve one’s processes? What might be the ethical implications of collecting data 24/7?

3. Genomics

We could also start to see opportunities from the huge advancements in genomics. As the price of gene sequencing becomes eminently accessible (e.g. dropping below $100), there will be opportunities to understand better not just how to develop more tailored products, but also to consider more appropriate and/or effective marketing messages.

We all know that different profiles need and react differently to marketing messages. With genetic sequencing, it is far from inconceivable to see marketers (with permission) learning how to better service certain genetically predisposed people differently from others.

From an HR angle, there will be important questions about the potential use of employee’s genetic information. One company astutely used company-wide genetic testing as a talking point to help galvanise a more collaborative spirit by showing that everyone was of mixed descent. However, there is a genuine threat of misuse and abuse. So again, it will be important to establish an ethical line.

Finding the right balance to deal with disruption

We are in the midst of exciting times. There are two types of risk to avoid as companies deal with disruption: trying to do too much and, secondly, trying to perfect your initiative.

The key to success will be configuring the right cocktail of technologies to help address your strategic challenges and imperatives, trying it out in a continuous learning mode, and leading your business in an ethically responsible manner.

Futureproof by Minter Dial and Caleb Storkey is out now in paperback and ebook and priced at £14.99

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Minter Dial


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