dion-hinchcliffe-blog-postDion Hinchcliffe, Chief Strategy Officer at Adjuvi, LLC, is an internationally recognized thought leader, business strategist, enterprise architect, book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, and transformation consultant. Dion works with the leadership teams of Fortune 500 and Global 2000 firms to drive successful change with emerging digital methods including enterprise social media, digital business models, Internet ecosystems, workforce collaboration, and the future of work in general.

UnboundID: When it comes to digital transformation, you wrote recently that the root issue is the way organizations apportion leadership and responsibility. Can you explain?

Hinchcliffe: The real challenge is that technology belongs to only a few departments, primarily marketing and IT, and those areas aren’t core to revenues. The digital transformation is very different than just saying we’re adding digital processes. It is rethinking the entire business and CEOs must be the ones saying that we must change. Boards are beginning to put on pressure. Yet most organizations are still very behind if you think about a company like Amazon. But change is possible even for a large traditional company. GM just hired 8,000 mobile programmers. They are going through a massive labor shift reorganizing their business around technology.

UnboundID: What else is important for digital transformation?

Hinchcliffe: The first issue is that a lot of companies have technical debt. They don’t have a foundation for change and it’s starting to hit them hard. It can be demoralizing. It’s useful to look at companies that have withstood generational changes such as wars, the industrial age, the information age, and they’re still going strong. This speaks to the importance of having a solid corporate culture. Some of these companies are very old and they are proactively seeking out change and looking for new opportunities. Their view is external and they are not fast followers. What we have also learned in the digital age is that companies that are successful don’t do it alone. The value is in the ecosystem. Take Apple, which built a platform (iOS) that created the ecosystem of apps. Citibank is a 200-year-old company that didn’t know where to start in mobile. So they held a hackathon in 2014 which resulted in about 100 community-developed apps. The company wound up adopting two of these apps.

UnboundID: How can digital transformation benefit customers?

Hinchcliffe: This doesn’t always happen. Sometimes a company does something really innovative and you think, what’s good about this for us? Newspaper publishers have been struggling with this for quite a while. If they want it to be with their customers they need to go to the online channels, but they’re still not getting digital right. Tech companies are disrupting publishing such as Amazon which developed the Kindle. Companies that are building new business models around all the data they are digitizing are getting it. Clear Channel created the wildly successful Internet radio service, iHeartRadio, in 2008. The service now has 245 million monthly listeners and has had 500 million downloads, and makes up about half of the company’s annual revenues.

The theme is to take a product or need from the old world and rethink it for the new world. Airbnb did this for lodging. The founders considered all these properties that aren’t being used to rethink the hotel industry in entirely new terms. In less than five years they easily now have more rooms available than Hilton, one of the world’s largest hotel chains. Traditional industries are doing this more and more. Lending Club is the online company that is disrupting banking through its business model of attracting individual investors who help fund consumer loans and then get a piece of the fees. To make digital transformation meaningful for customers it’s not about spending billions of dollars purchasing assets like properties and fleets of cars anymore. Use what’s already out there and connect the supply and demand chains.

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