Digital transformation: a clear vision

Editorial Type: Feature Date: 03-2020 Views: 551 Tags: Document, Management, Digital Transformation, Capture, PFU, Fujitsu, ELO PDF Version:
This round-table discussion session at PFU's Information Capture Conference examined the information management challenges being faced not just by resellers and ISVs, but also those faced by end users and customers

The organisers of this year's PFU ICC had clearly put a great deal of thought into designing panel discussions that would bring in a large and eager audience: the session on Organisational Intelligence was packed to standing-room only levels, and the Q&A at the end showed that the delegates had clearly been paying attention.

The session began with a presentation by Matthew Powell of B2B International on a research project whose findings were to inform much of the discussion that followed. The research had the somewhat unwieldy title of "Understanding information management and digital transformation when thinking of re-framing the scanning category". The idea was to understand how organisations are managing digital transformation, with a specific focus on the perception - and usage - of scanning technologies. It included the changing nature of the decision making unit in what appears to be becoming much more of a solution sale than a product one.

The main challenge for end users, it appears from the research, is in finding a partner who can accompany and advise them on the digital transformation 'journey' - and this uncertainty, Powell suggested, could represent a major opportunity in the market. Another issue that the industry could help with, he went on, was in 'helping people to understand the long term gains while facing short term challenges with new technologies.'

One point Powell raised which made ears prick up around the room was when respondents had been asked what would make, for them, the ideal partner. As well as must-haves such as proximity, offering a good price, support, and a good customer experience, potential buyers also look at what Powell called 'the factors that can make or break a relationship'. These include trust, advice, partnership and adding value. Among his conclusions were that there is a clear opportunity to raise the importance of scanning as part of digital transformation initiatives.

The full panel discussion, chaired by industry guru John Mancini, included not just Powell but also Bernardo Pujol of Delta Informatica and Pierre Himmelmann of ELO, both long standing PFU partners, alongside PFU's Steve Chad.

Chad opened the discussion by explaining PFU's view of users' digital transformation experiences to date, saying that people who are undergoing a genuine digital transformation journey are seeing it as a strategic move. Even with large scale business justification, people are often reluctant to make major changes until they feel some sort of pain, he went on: "Opportunity is great, but pain is usually a greater driver at this level." Often these early adopter organisations have perceived a real threat to the future existence of their business, so they have very specific business reasons to make the change.

Digital transformation, it was suggested, is not really being driven by a top down or bottom up management decision, but as Steve Chad described it 'somewhere in the middle': "Department or discipline managers are often the ones who see the need to change and they have to sell the idea upwards. But selling up or down, you are going to need the support of high level advocates who can make the changes necessary for others to take action."

Matthew Powell commented that people often see digital transformation through their own 'personal lens': "Where we've seen it work has been where there has been de-mystification of what it means at senior levels. They know what it means for them and their business, they know the tangibles."

It was also suggested that many organisations are seeing the need to transform 'before the pain appears'. Pierre Himmelmann described it as "Taking an umbrella out when you know it will rain is just smart."

Steve Chad expanded on this idea: "If you're going to implement change successfully, you have to bring people along with you - to do that, you have to make people feel safe. Anything that feels too far away from what we're used to - too different, too new - we will naturally react to negatively. So we have to give people time to adjust to change, to talk about it. And as long as the organisation understands how it sees the future vision - and communicates that clearly - it can ease people's minds."

Bernardo Pujol added that they had sometimes seen resistance to planned changes and had to approach such situations sensitively and with understanding: "We always have to think about asking the right questions - 'Do you know how much time it takes you to complete this task?' or suchlike, to get them thinking about how capture or automation might help them with specific tasks, help them improve their own efficiency, rather than thinking about potential negatives of technology."

Matthew Powell summed up the discussion neatly in saying "Digital transformation is not just about products and technology. It's about the people within a business: getting those people on-board for what might represent a major cultural shift. Setting a big goal is important, yes, but so is demonstrating how small initiatives can be successful for a business. We've done this small project, here are the benefits it delivers, here's a visible success - rather than trying to boil the whole ocean in one go."

"Digital transformation is not just about products and technology. It's about the people within a business: getting those people on-board for what might represent a major cultural shift. Setting a big goal is important, yes, but so is demonstrating how small initiatives can be successful for a business. We've done this small project, here are the benefits it delivers, here's a visible success - rather than trying to boil the whole ocean in one go."