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Putting the pedal to the metal for digital transformation

  • Posted on July 27, 2017
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes
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Cars weren’t the only things moving fast at the Formula 1 Grand Prix du Canada. During the Formula 1 weekend in Montreal in June, I had the pleasure of hosting a fascinating and fast-paced Digital Think Tank event for Avanade. Senior executives from a broad range of industries came together and discussed everything from the trials and tribulations of going digital to new technology trends like Artificial Intelligence (AI). Despite the group’s diversity, all shared common experiences with their digital transformation journeys.

Formula 1 goes digital
It struck me that Formula 1 is truly a microcosm of things that apply to all businesses: aspects such as real-time data analysis, collaboration, engaging fans (customers), and the entire business life cycle. This certainly rings true after hearing our guest speaker (and Avanade client) Graeme Hackland, CIO of Williams Martini Racing (WMR) offer behind-the-scenes examples during our Digital Think Tank of how the Formula 1 team is fueling up with the power of digital to win on and off the track.

  • With its Tire Optimization app, WMR takes advantage of data generated during the race for both real-time trackside insight and to inform longer-term decisions, such as those around the design of its racecars. 
  • To understand and optimize the pit crew’s performance, WMR uses IoT Human Biometrics technology combined with internet-based data analytics to obtain actionable information that’s used in future training and performance strategy.
  • AI, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Neural Networks and 3D printing are emerging technologies being investigated by WMR.

Graeme emphasized that all of WMR’s technology projects are driven by the business – what’s going to make the car better and faster. They’re not IT projects.

People, pace and perfection
As the amazing 1.92 second, fastest F1 pit stop record in 2016 proves, it can be a split-second that makes all the difference. Off the race track it’s no different. Mere seconds with customers’ experiences can make or break your brand. Creating a strong digital presence for your customers (like a great website and edgy social platforms) is only half the battle. It’s equally critical to make investments internally so that employees are empowered to deliver delightful customer interactions and create lasting relationships. 

That’s where the “people piece” comes into play. The human element is both the biggest challenge and the single most important success factor in digital transformation. Today’s workforce is a mash-up:

  • Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964)
  • Generation X (born 1965-1976)
  • Generation Y, aka Millennials (born 1977-1995)
  • And the newbies on the scene – Generation Z (born 1996-present)

So how do you create a digital workplace that works for everyone, and do it fast? While some older employees may experience trepidation and resist change, many younger employees embrace – and even demand – the latest tools and systems. As a result, there’s a war for talent going on and businesses must up their game to attract and retain these tech-savvy workers.

Change management is absolutely essential and it needs to happen early on in the digital journey: first, develop a comprehensive change strategy (with a big emphasis on user experience design); second, change behavior through iterative training; third, enable change through ongoing support and communication. 

Like on the race track, “pace” is another key consideration in achieving digital transformation. Even though it’s tempting to race ahead with digital, many organizations are still dealing with legacy issues, such as disparate data pools and manual processes. For instance, moving away from spreadsheets towards interactive dashboarding tools enables the transition from old-style reporting to meaningful stories and insights. It takes time to plan and deploy the proper technology elements to support a digital workplace. 

A “pace over perfection” mindset will help in achieving great progress, but then we need to accept some uncertainty. Is that within our risk tolerance?

Learn how Avanade can help with your Digital Transformation journey. 

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