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Advice: How Canadian businesses can get ahead of disruption and thrive in a digital world

By Charlotte Burke, Small and Midmarket Solutions & Partners Lead, Microsoft Canada on February 1, 2017

Filed under Canadian Leadership Hub

GregVerdino

Greg Verdino at Innovation Nation

On Friday, January 27th, we hosted the Innovation Nation Summit at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in Toronto. The Summit brought together business leaders to discuss Canada’s changing economy and how businesses can harness the power of their data in order to succeed in a rapidly transforming world.

Among those who joined us was Greg Verdino, Digital Transformation Expert and Futurist. I had the chance to speak to Greg about digital transformation and how Canadian businesses can use technology to disrupt and stay ahead. Here’s what he told me:

 

It’s clear that technology has changed the way we do business across industries. Can you explain the difference between “disruption” and “transformation” when it comes to technology?

Digital change will happen with or without you, so for companies, it’s all a matter of where that change originates. When change happens to your company because of digital challenges coming from the outside, you are in the process of being disrupted. On the other hand, when change happens at your company because of deliberate decisions your own team is making and strategic actions your people are taking, you are pursuing your own digital transformation.

 

Many companies have spent years or even decades building their business processes and operations. How would you suggest they manage the changes ahead?

Business leaders need to rethink their model. Identify the areas of your business that are most vulnerable to disruption, and prioritize those areas in your transformation plan. For some companies, this might be a question of customer experience. For others, perhaps it’s a matter of what products you provide and how you deliver them. No established business can start from scratch, change everything all at once, or let go of the positive points that give them a competitive advantage. But a sound digital transformation plan must jettison the dead weight, put in place an achievable roadmap for incremental improvements and radical innovation and lead the organization to a different, better future.

Ask yourself what your company would look like if their very first customer were a digital native? What would she expect? How would you meet those expectations? This simple exercise forces leaders to adopt a new mindset and see their business in a new and different way, that can shine a light not only on how they might be disrupted but how they could leapfrog disruption by acting on a clear vision for the future of the business.

 

For many businesses, digital transformation will sound like boiling the ocean. Where should they begin?

The most common question I get is probably, “Where should we start?” My answer is always, “With strategy.” That sounds contradictory, but I think many leaders think digital transformation starts with technology, requires them to make a key hire, or begins with a specific project or some pre-defined first step in a linear process. But any of these things is unlikely to move the business in the right direction, until they’re clear on where they’re trying to go.

 

Let’s shift gears: experts have been talking about “big data” for almost a decade. How can businesses harness the power of data to compete and stay ahead?

I think that big data can become something of a Holy Grail for some business leaders: We could make smarter decisions, if only we had more data. Approached the wrong way, these companies risk death by analytics – which isn’t what anyone intends…

There is incredible power in data and analytics, but some of the biggest insights can come from the information you already have at your fingertips, if you know what you’re looking for. What matters most is not how much data you have, but how you use your data. Democratize data in your organization so that everyone across all areas of the business can use it to make intelligent decisions – but also recognize that data is a means to an end, and not the end in itself.

 

How can cloud based CRM tools like Dynamics 365 help businesses make sense of their own data?

Companies are moving critical applications to the cloud because the cloud provides better, more seamless access to those applications, improves employees’ ability to connect, share and collaborate, and allows the entire business to operate more efficiently. And applications that democratize the business’s data – makes it accessible and understandable to individuals across all areas of the business, so that they can make smarter choices – can increase effectiveness, agility and performance.

Click here to find out more about how to harness the power and thrive in a digital world!

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