I found it fascinating to chair our recent in-person event, Digital Transformation in Action: Platforms, Processes, People and Purpose.
The event brought together MMT’s clients, partners and friends to hear a keynote speech by Linda Davidson about the true meaning of transformation, and a panel discussion featuring five digital transformation experts.
MMT believes that a focus on the ‘4Ps’ contained in the headline allows organisations to view their big digital transformation challenges through four very different - yet interlinked - lenses.
Businesses must also recognise that the process of transformation is ongoing. It isn’t the one-off metamorphosis each butterfly experiences, going from grub to grandeur. Instead, it’s a continuous adaptation to relentless changes in technology, economies and customer behaviour.
And, within that, those at the sharp end must be able to demonstrate regular measurable wins: a tangible demonstration of added value.
How one expert’s personal transformation highlights digital change
In that context, I found Linda’s presentation to be both inspirational and insightful. Originally a budding actor and dancer, Linda landed a role overseeing the development of the inaugural website of BBC science series Tomorrow’s World. Her own transition from entertainer to technologist was under way.
Comparing then and now, Linda observed: “The internet back then felt the same as technology today. No one knows where AI, and the intersection of technology and the real world, will take us."
Linda’s strong belief is that to thrive in the era of digital transformation, we must embrace change and adapt to become digital leaders. In doing so, however, we should pay attention to the past and also think what the future means to leaders, but also to individuals.
Linda advocates a “people and purpose first” approach, keeping the ‘why’ that sits behind your digital transformation firmly in the frame. Finding a common purpose brings people along on the journey. She believes that everyone has a role to play in a corporate environment, in the same way as they do in a theatre production.
Then you must identify stakeholders, and define processes, workstreams, and how the activity will be measured. Platforms cut across the other three Ps, driving everything you do.
And innovation is also key. That means considering new thinking, culture and diversity, practices such as sustainability and, of course, platforms.
Finally, storytelling is vital. Constantly narrate and communicate the value of your digital transformation to your colleagues, as well as your customer base. Different audiences require different messages: it’s a complex tale, so the story of what you’re delivering must be simple, yet clever.
You can read more about Linda’s insights in our extensive interview with her here.
Expert views from the cutting edge of transformation
Then it was time for our panel of digital leaders, discussing their experiences, tips and tricks. The participants were:
Liz Nguli, Head of Global Cloud Engineering at Vodafone
Jonathan Stone, Senior IT Director, Solution Engineering, Elanco
Nadia Dowling, Head of Digital Delivery, Sovereign Housing Association
Owen Ayres, Principal Engineer, MMT
Gareth Sully, Head of Experience Design, MMT
Firstly, discussing processes, Liz explained her team is tasked with building a platform to transform Vodafone into a technology-first company. Allowing all global team members in cloud engineering to collaborate and communicate across markets is critical, and would not work without having a proper process in place.
In a detailed dive into Vodafone’s transformation, Liz shared: “We broke down the process and used Agile methodologies, which has made building cloud infrastructure much simpler. A proper operating model creates and drives the ownership required for successful development, and sharing of best practice. Vodafone wants to deliver velocity, but it must be safe and secure for our developers and for our customers.”
I found Jonathan’s observations about platforms and products particularly valuable. His team began its journey two years ago, and he admits their approach to cloud was immature. “We took about a month to even deploy a single line of code,” he revealed. “When different hands are dealing with different things it can take a long time.”
The organisation strove to understand the product team’s barriers and build internal capability to overcome them. Differing architectures, security and cost issues were getting in the way. With this data in hand, a test period was planned to provide key milestones and metrics.
Jonathan explained: “If you have a lot of data it’s easy to go full tilt to a big implementation programme to attempt to improve the situation. But I’m a big fan of trials: take one application and try small scripting by internal engineers, and provoke a step-change by automating specific areas. We got down to five days for infrastructure and code to be ready for the team to begin building applications.”
Innovation wraps in people as much as tech, as a brilliant initiative by Sovereign proves. Nadia’s role is more customer-facing than a technology remit, giving her a unique perspective on the end user’s challenges - and possible solutions. Housing association customers can face serious property problems such as damp and mould that cause major health issues, so Sovereign wanted to provide a more proactive approach for residents using technology.
Nadia commented: “We trialed IoT (Internet of Things) devices in homes, such as humidity and temperature sensors. We wanted to test enablement of proactive response, and how customers would feel about IoT reporting back to landlords. Once we had the data and overlaid our internal data, we could spot high-risk properties, make contact with customers and book site visits.
“Eventually, we incorporated video triage where they provided the information for us to diagnose problems while reducing hassle for them and carbon output for us. We understood the customer and their journey, to uncover the hidden silence of damp and mould.” Customers are now linked to the tenancy advice service for help with housing, benefits and other aspects of Sovereign’s systems.
MMT explains why digital means doing better
Discussing digital sustainability, Owen explained how MMT is making its products and services more sustainable as a response to technology.
He said: “Stats show that if the internet was a country it would be in the top ten polluters. That’s why developments such as infrastructure on demand - turning tech on and off as needed - is key. The carbon footprint of your website may be low, but if you get huge traffic it grows astronomically.”
Digital sustainability doesn’t just help the planet, Owen added. It saves infrastructure costs, but also boosts performance. He pointed to Amazon’s claim that every 0.1 seconds faster a page loads can lead to a 1% revenue increase. If that doesn’t help focus business minds, nothing will.
Gareth wrapped up the panel’s discussions with a view on digital service accessibility by design. For the fifth of humans who have a disability, digital can be difficult, if not downright overwhelming.
Data shows accessibility isn’t improving - but there are three reasons organisations should make it happen upfront rather than trying to retrofit inclusivity:
It’s the right thing to do - don’t restrict people from accessing services or products
People care about digital - there’s brand equity in doing the right thing; your customers can always go elsewhere if they don’t get on
Don’t do this, and you exclude a huge chunk of your target market; it’s really a revenue no-brainer
Above all, it was great to see so many of you back in the room after an enforced and prolonged period without face-to-face events. I hope our content has given you food for thought to drive your own digital transformations forward.
This event followed the launch of the new set of MMT services which help companies kick off their digital transformation by assessing their current digital maturity and the 4Ps:
If you 'd like to discuss how MMT can help your business, get in touch today and we'll connect you with a specialist who can advise on the area of digital transformation you need assistance with.