Welcome to The Week in Digital Transformation, our regular column which rounds up the most interesting developments, ideas and research from the realm of digital transformation.

This week, it’s all about iPhones and Australia: we look at what switching smartphone operating systems can teach us about how human beings respond to digital transformation, and how businesses and Government in Australia are making digital transformation a top priority.

Plus, a start-up in Myanmar has taken it upon itself to propel the country’s digital transformation forward, and we find out which CIOs are dispensing the best digital transformation wisdom on Twitter.

What switching from an iPhone to an Android can teach us about digital transformation

Quirky takes on the topic of digital transformation are great, and luckily there are plenty of them to be found. In previous digital transformation round-ups, I’ve covered takes on why digital transformation should be called “digital metamorphosis”, and what we can learn about digital transformation from the RAF.

This week, Rephael Sweary, President and Co-Founder of WalkMe, published a genuinely novel piece in Forbes about what switching from an iPhone to an Android taught him about digital transformation.

The main message? Humans get incredibly attached to our technology – and given that we use it near-constantly, both in our personal and in our work lives, it’s easy to see why a drastic change in the tools we use can have a big emotional impact.

As Sweary writes,

“I use my phone hundreds of times a day. It is my key tool for work and fulfills many of my daily needs, from communication to retrieving information. Without its full support, I felt like I was going through life with one hand tied behind my back.

“Take the frustration that I experienced with changing operating systems, multiply it by a lack of productivity with the number of employees in an organization and then multiply that by the number of new applications and releases per application. This is the effect of digital transformation.”

Android logo in green

Sweary makes this point not because he believes that digital transformation is a bad idea or something that can be avoided, but in order to better illustrate the human impact of digital transformation, in order to foster a greater understanding of its challenges.

As he points out, 70% of complex, large-scale change programs don’t meet their stated goals (McKinsey). Digital transformation is a huge undertaking, and one that we can’t afford to underestimate.

It isn’t just about mastering the ins and outs of a new device or software system, either – Sweary makes the astute observation that employees’ “relationship” with their technology needs to evolve, or they’ll continue using the new technology in exactly the same way as the old, and getting as little out of it as they did before.

He writes of a conversation with a senior account executive of ECM who had observed this behaviour among employees after a CRM system migration:

“Even years after the upgrade, many of the company’s salespeople were still using the new system as they had used the old CRM by logging their transactions but not maximizing its potential.”

“Maybe the key to mastering transformation,” Sweary concludes, “is to acknowledge the dynamic, ever-evolving relationship between humans and technology … Similar to a romantic relationship, the work is ongoing. The same is true of technology.”

Digital transformation is priority #1 for Australian businesses

A new report by KPMG, ‘Keeping us up at night: The big issues facing business leaders in 2019’ has investigated the ten most pressing issues for Australian business leaders going into next year. And number one? Digital transformation.

Digital transformation is clearly top-of-mind for Australia’s business leaders, outranking many other pressing issues like innovation and disruption (arguably not all that separate from digital transformation), regulation, political paralysis and cost competitiveness. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re finding things easy.

A map of Australia with round-headed colourful pins stuck into it.

KPMG’s report frames its analysis of the challenges Australian businesses face with digital transformation in general terms:

“Digital transformation is not a slick new app. It’s the way the customer’s interaction with that app and how it connects through the entire organisation and back again.

“Failing to appreciate that is one of the most common traps you see organisations falling into today. You see many go to market to crow about a new digital customer experience. But that customer experience fails to deliver when they try to hook it into their supply chain, their middle office, or their back office. It fails to connect seamlessly.”

However, a piece published by Joseph Brookes at Which-50 notes that Australian companies in particular have been struggling with digital transformation for some time, recalling a report by Gartner published in August which “issued a scathing assessment of the state of digital transformation in Australia, reporting that ambition surpasses performance, that the risk of disruption is underestimated, and that there is little appetite to experiment with new business models.”

KPMG’s report offers some practical advice for Australian businesses, including a checklist of attributes that indicate a need for digital transformation within a market segment, and a list of five primary things that “any digital transformation worth its salt” should be helping them to achieve.

The two-page segment it dedicates to digital transformation isn’t exactly a deep dive, but it’s interesting – in large part because it reveals that in spite of their issues, Australian business leaders are actively grappling with digital transformation and making it their top priority, which has to be a good sign.

Australia aims to allow all citizens to access government digitally by 2025

Australia is also forging ahead with its digital transformation in other, non-corporate areas: namely, government.

Earlier this week, the Australian Government published a Digital Transformation Strategy which sets out the country’s goals for the digital transformation of government services from 2018 to 2025. Its biggest overall goal, reports Global Government Forum, is allowing citizens to access all government services digitally by 2025, in a bid to make Government “easy to deal with”, “informed by [citizens]”, and “fit for the digital age”

The strategy is dependent on the successful creation of a digital identity system that will allow Australians to use a single login for all government services instead of having to repeatedly prove their identity. Trials of the system, called myGovID, are already underway, and a full public launch is scheduled for 2019.

The Digital Transformation Strategy roadmap provides more insight into the Australian Government’s specific goals over the next few years, but one of the most interesting parts of it is the section detailing goals that the Government has already accomplished in its bid to digitally transform.

These include an “analysis of opportunities for government and industry to use blockchain technology”, the development of a “set of mandated best practice principles for the design and delivery of government services”, and the creation of Alex, a virtual assistant for patents and trademarks.

20 CIOs to follow for digital transformation wisdom on Twitter

The internet has a list for everything, and plenty have been published which recommend the best people to follow on social media for insight into a particular topic. But I think this is the first time I’ve seen one for digital transformation.

The Enterprisers Project has decided to follow up its 2017 list of CIOs to follow on Twitter with a list specifically geared towards the best CIOs to follow on Twitter for wisdom on digital transformation.

As author Stephanie Overby writes, “When you’re navigating the digital transformation journey, there’s nothing quite as valuable as guidance from fellow travellers” – and many CIOs are deeply invested in digital transformation, regularly offering up insight into their own experiences as well as thoughts on the topic more broadly.

The list ranges from the likes of Lori Beer, Global CIO of JP Morgan Chase and Co., to Suzette Kent, Federal CIO at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, to Gail Evans, who started out as a janitor at Eastman Kodak and rose to the rank of CTO, before holding IT roles at Bank of America, Hewlett-Packard, and Microsoft.

While it’s mostly dominated by US CIOs, a couple of UK figures make an appearance, including Suresh Rukmangathan, CTO at INTCAS Worldwide, and Bob Brown, CIO of Manchester City Council. There’s an interesting mix of sectors and backgrounds, and the list is bound to add a wealth of additional digital transformation info into your daily Twitter reading.

The Myanmar start-up supporting digital transformation

In multiple previous round-ups, we’ve talked about big, established companies like Alibaba Cloud and KPMG launching initiatives aimed at helping businesses with their digital transformation.

We’ve also covered government initiatives to support businesses with transforming digitally, like Singapore’s launch of an Industry Digital Plan to help SMEs in last week’s roundup. But it isn’t just big, well-funded institutions who are setting out to help other businesses with digital transformation: Nexlabs, a start-up digital consultancy in Myanmar, has dedicated itself to helping Myanmar businesses transform digitally.

Thai newspaper The Nation reports this week on the “group of Myanmar whizz kids” who have “set their hearts on becoming an integral part of Myanmar’s digital transformation journey”. Co-founder and CEO of Nexlabs, Ye Myat Min, founded the company in 2013 with three other people, and it has since grown to a team of 84 individuals with diverse backgrounds and experience.

In 2014, Ye Myat Min and co-founder Myo Htet Aung were two of eight young innovators from Myanmar honoured in Forbes Asia’s first “30 under 30 Asia” list, and this year, Nexlabs attracted US$150,000 in funding from Myanmar Strategic Holdings Ltd, along with six figures of equity funding from Singaporean venture capital firm Vulpes Innovative Myanmar Investment Company, to support its digital transformation initiatives.

For the time being, the company is chiefly focusing on clients from key sectors like banking and finance, food and beverages, and retail, with plans to potentially expand into sectors like healthcare, education, payments and insurance in the future.

Nexlabs has helped its clients to develop websites and mobile apps, shaped their branding strategies, and conducted integrated marketing and UX consultancy. Ye told The Nation in an exclusive interview,

“For local businesses, it is time to move forward with the help of technology. Otherwise, they will be left behind in such a digital age.

“Whatever the type of project is, we get a buzz from transforming businesses with technology. If a business is set for its next big thing, we make sure we will come up with some innovative ideas to make it a reality.”

The key to digital transformation: Data

It’s time now for the latest instalment of ‘The key to digital transformation’, a (mostly) regular feature in our weekly round-ups in which we find one concept, idea, or type of technology that’s being held up as the be-all and end-all of digital transformation.

This week, tech news outlet TechFinancials has published an editorial on why data is the “key piece in the digital transformation puzzle”. According to author Johan Scheepers, data is critical to digital transformation because:

  • Digital transformation initiatives begin with an understanding of where the business is and where it needs to be – data can give businesses this information
  • Data can give businesses a “single point of truth”, if properly classified, indexed and categorised
  • The value of data does not decrease once a digital strategy has been executed.

And to revisit our smartphone theme, Scheepers also likens digital transformation to a smartphone operating system: “Digital transformation in its purest form should be viewed as a continually evolving process, with updates being continually added and rerun, much like iOS on an iPhone.”