Belinda Gannaway: Digital Masters are rethinking their organisations as well as their relationships with customers and their wider ecosystems!

With the Enterprise Digital SUMMIT / London coming up in about 8 weeks we are starting once again another interview series for exploring and preparing the discussions at the event. While our friends at Agile Elephant already took a look inside the case study of Vodafone (that is going to be discussed at the event) we are starting off with some UK digital transformation expertise provided by Belinda Gannaway (@beegannaway). Belinda is collaboration catalyst and culture director at Brilliant Noise and has the mission to help organisations thrive in the digital age. Prior to joining Brilliant Noise Belinda had her own consultancy, and has worked with a range of clients including Barclays, Cisco, FirstGroup and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

beegannawayAt Enterprise Digital SUMMIT / London she is part of a discussion panel about the status quo and the success factors for the digital transformation – thus this was also the key topic for our interview.

Belinda – can you give us a keyword or tag that describe your key recommendation on digital transformation?

Digital journey (not destination).

What is the state of digital transformation in British organisations? How far are we on this journey?

It’s a very mixed picture when it comes to digital maturity among UK organisations. There are huge numbers of successful digital initiatives revolutionising the prospects for thousands of UK companies. And surveys consistently indicate digital is top of the UK corporate agenda.

The UK government too is modelling the change by shifting to digital ways of working across the public sector. And in the coming months, it is due to publish a Digital Transformation Plan to boost the picture among UK businesses. Chancellor George Osborne sees digital transformation as key to improving the UK’s poor levels of productivity.

But it’s not all good news.

While many businesses have invested in technology, most don’t exploit its potential to foster collaboration and creativity, or use the data they gain to find new opportunities. They remain stuck in their traditional – often highly siloed – ways of working.

What are the challenges to digital transformation?

The biggest challenge is leadership. Too many business leaders think about digital transformation purely in terms of technology. By contrast the digital masters – those organisations that are succeeding in the digital age – are rethinking their organisations as well as their relationships with customers and their wider ecosystems.

A recent study by MIT Sloan and Deloitte identifies the strength of digital technologies – social, mobile, analytics and cloud – as how well companies integrate the new tools to transform their businesses and how they work. And that’s very much a question of leadership.

Brilliant Noise works with leadership teams in global organisations to help them understand the digital imperative and nurture a digital mindset to lead organisations fit for the digital age.

What about changing behaviours on an individual level to support transformation – is showing the WIIFM sufficient to change individual working habits?

Again, the answer is in leadership and leader’s ability to set a clear and compelling digital vision that excites employees across the organisation.

What we’re talking about is collaboration. How do you get individual employees working better together across silos to deliver improvements for the business and for customers?

Yes, the WIFFM is important – without it you may get small pockets of change but nothing transformational. But it’s not enough on its own. You need the things that drive your people to align to a bigger and compelling vision set by leaders. And for people to see those behaviours modelled by the people they care about – leaders, line managers and colleagues.

In a recent post on the Brilliant Noise blog you discuss the relationship between customer centricity and internal collaborative culture. Why are these two so closely connected?

Here at Brilliant Noise we do a lot of work to help organisations understand and rethink their customers’ experience. We also help clients understand what a collaboration culture looks like and take steps to nurture collaborative environments and behaviours. The two are critically linked.

For customers to get the best from your organisation, you need to be agile in how you respond to their needs. Working in rigid silos according to the dictates of annual (or even five-year) roadmaps simply won’t produce the experience customers have come to expect.

You want your people to have the autonomy, motivation and innovation to respond to customer needs as and when they change. And that means breaking down silos.

What are your thoughts about the future of digital transformation in British companies?

Companies that are serious about digital are not relying on single, big bang transformation projects. Rather they are investing time, energy and resources in initiatives – technology as well as new ways of working – that are changing the organisation over time.

They are testing, learning and building on that insight to transform the culture and the future of their organisations. Digital transformation is a journey, not a destination, and it has many inflection points.

To understand the journey companies need to ensure their leaders have a digital mindset and that their culture is collaborative, purpose driven and biased towards action.

What are your expectations for Enterprise Digital SUMMIT?

I’m really looking forward to this year’s Enterprise Digital Summit. The panel discussions are always fascinating and the real-life stories from the organisations hugely stimulating.

Register now for Enterprise Digital SUMMIT / London 2015