Abbie Lundberg presents a new leadership model for digital business


"Digital is about exploiting information at speed for business use," opines Abbie Lundberg, President of Lundberg Media. Lundberg was addressing the crowd at the recent Oracle Cloud Day.

Over the past 18 months, Lundberg has been conducting research with Harvard Business Review and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) into the digital threat and why this is driving a need for more responsive IT. Sharing the results of her research, Lundberg showed several very interesting slides. According to her study, 38% of respondents believe that the confluence of new technologies has significantly changed their business models. When asked whether digital was perceived as a threat to their business, 75% of respondents answered that their company's survival was dependent on their ability to exploit IT. With regards to digital transformation, 66% of respondents said that their company's future was dependent on the quality of their software. Some 47% of respondents admitted they had missed business opportunities because their IT was too slow to respond.

According to Lundberg, there are two key factors driving market change:

"The number one factor is changing customer behaviour and expectations. Customers all have smartphones and tablets, they expect to be able to access information anywhere, anytime. Companies are working hard to deliver that," she said. "The number two factor is commoditisation - the drive for cost savings."

Previous models of customer engagement have changed, Lundberg said, and companies need to be ready to leverage opportunities as well as to find out what the digital customer journey looks like. "How do you ensure you're number one when people go looking digitally?" she asked the audience. Lundberg cited a case study with Emerson, a large business-to-business industrial manufacturing company. According to the organisation's COO, changing models of customer engagement were one of the top three risk factors that they had addressed with their board of directors. "That's an old-world industrial manufacturer changing, and models was one of their top three risk factors," Lundberg said. "Think about that."

According to Lundberg's research, 64% of respondents say Cloud has increased their business agility. Lundberg said:

"When Cloud first came onto the scene it was like salvation for business people who were champing at the bit to go out and do new things."

However, she cautioned, there is a dark side to Cloud:

"Business people who didn't involve IT in the Cloud were bumping up against regulatory constraints. There were also security concerns."

Over time, business users learnt that there's a lot of value in involving IT on the front end, Lundberg explained, while IT people have come to look at Cloud as just another tool in the toolbox. The use of Cloud technology requires a close collaboration between IT and other parts of the business, Lundberg said, something which many companies are still struggling to comprehend and implement. Lundberg's research revealed that 90% of respondents agreed that collaboration is critical to exploit IT for business advantage.

The expert spent a few minutes highlighting some of the latest methods to encourage companywide cooperation, including reverse mentoring, which she opined works really well. It involves taking the young people in the company - those who have grown up with the technology - and pairing them with the company's executives to show these high-level individuals what these technologies are and how to use them. It is a non-threatening but high-impact way to get the executive team to understand what's going on. Co-locating staff, cross-functional reporting, omni-channel teams and various new development models are other ways to encourage collaboration, Lundberg added.

"Digital innovation is about accelerating innovation," Lundberg said in closing. "I cannot emphasise enough the importance of the digital partnership. Collaborate, co-design and co-create."

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