How do we measure success in our digital transformation? A journey of discovery

How do we find answers to knowing what measures give us for success in any digital transformation? Are today’s measures relevant to tomorrow, are they still based on our legacy system of measurement, when a business was operating in a stable, predictable environment?

Today, I think we certainly have a beginning point but all of us lack a clarity of the end point of where digital transformation will take us. Why, well I think this nicely puts it, we have to move or be moved. Nicely put Mirko

Yes, we can measure success in our progress but these are in both multiple and equally personal ways.

Each organization is unique. Never has this become crystal clear that when you face your own transformation journey. You can learn from others, you can adapt but you need to clearly understand where you are in your own evolution and capacity to undertake change as it is simply your journey. This has not been as well recognized as it is today when we attempt to make any transition, from the old ways of doing business to the new one; that is highly connected, collaborative and based on our growing reliance on technology and ‘everything’ digital. It can become life-changing.

Each business makes a judgment, on speed, scale, and scope of transformation.

How they evolve, in new growth, in their changing business model, in their innovation, in their capabilities to manage the “spread” of activities required to transform. How do they upgrade or re-orientate their people, their customer-facing activity for example?

The world is moving at different speeds, technology is being implemented in unique ways. We are all making and leaving our digital footprint, each very differently depending on our own situations. Judgment becomes personal, relative to your own situation. We need to measure in those “measured steps” what you need to determine as a transformation journey. Of course, once we have our ideas, we can begin to find ways to measure. It is not a bad thing that we must calibrate this against others, in seeing the outcomes feeding back from our customers and markets but it is a journey that you can undertake as you and only you, have the best grasp of what is needed or required. It is your journey.

Can we look out and give it a ‘hard’ quantification in five or say ten years? Does digital transformation have any easy answers? We can take some broader measures as business is still driven by growth, growth in revenue, in product mix, in-country development, in market share. Or equally how the perception of the company is beginning to change and how the market ‘sees you’ as different and adapting to volatile conditions. You hear the word “exponential” often and that seems a high validation point today.

Seeing the digital transformation story in different ways

I am involved in a community that supports Siemens and attempts to contribute as well as extract better understanding of their transformation journey.

This involvement is being part of their external influencer community. We influence in different ways but more increasingly shape perceptions and undertake exchanges. For me, and I think certainly Siemens Influencers, this is taking on a radically different meaning from that social media aspect alone. It is where there are engagements in deeper meaning and relationship growing, that can only emerge from sharing other’s perspectives.

We have two perspectives for this community to thrive in, the insiders working within a business like Siemens, and those outside, looking in, mutually engaging. This can sometimes be a very uncomfortable, often challenging ‘relationship’ when someone outside challenges the management of an organization. You can face “push back” or simply a rejection, or moments where you can openly exchange and gain from conversations.  Or, you simply add a new dimension to a particular challenge or problem, that is if the other party is prepared to listen or learn.

Many companies talk of diversity, in who they attract within their company but this diversity of opinion, of different perceptions, is as increasingly important. I think Siemens is recognizing this and exploring what this means in value and contribution. It is a privilege to be part of this.

The initiative for this building of a Siemens Influencer Community is driven within Siemens Communications Group, where Clarissa Haller (@clarissahaller), the head of Corporate Communication within Siemens, outlined her vision of this in an article, providing some of the opening values in forming an influencer engagement group in B2B.  She talks the three “R’s” of “relevance, reach and resonance” and that forms a good “mantra” for influencers, in general, to work towards and specifically for influencers working with Siemens, in my opinion. How this group is forming and storming in new ways lies with Patrick Naumann, (@naumannpatrick) the Siemens Influence Engagement Manager. He has the hard task of “herding cats”- An idiom denoting a futile attempt to control or organize a class of entities which are inherently uncontrollable – as in the difficulty of attempting to command a large number of cats into a group (herd). This he does in a number of amazing ways. It certainly is not “futile,” it is very progressive and highly imaginative but it can be a little disorderly and challenging to steer, transitioning change that is radically different from past practices within an organization like Siemens. The diversity within the group influencing needs exploiting in many ways to extract the greater value.

Patrick recently commented in “The 2018 State of Influence 2.0” written by Brian Sollis that shows the progress of influencers and he commented on the impact within Siemens. Being on the inside of the Siemens program this report is lagging behind the evolution. Siemens has been turning aspirations of getting this community to form and influence in unique ways. What Patrick states here, these are getting greater each time we meet. As part of this exposure to Siemens, we are having some significant engagements with their senior people.

Three months ago, while in Munich for one of these community sessions, we met up with Dr. Roland Busch, (@BuschRo), currently the CTO of Siemens and soon to assume the role of COO, in a new structure emerging early next year.

At the time I had mixed feelings on the session but in the past few months, I have been reflecting a little more on this.  Recently revisiting the recordings of the event (part of my misgivings of the session being recorded) I extracted a lot from the dialogues. So the recordings gave me a longer-term value of putting much in a different context.

It reminded me that the perspective of giving events considered time for reflection may deliver many “sound bites” from parts of a session but there is this need for us to piece together a ‘greater’ whole. At the time we react and magnify one aspect and not frame it in something that is greater, more cohesive and lasting. Giving time and reflection can do that. This Q&A gave me the opportunity to consider how a digital transformation journey is made up of so many aspects to consider. There are no easy answers.

The session, a Q&A, spoke around many of the aspects of managing a digital transformation. This was within Siemens and in general.

Dr. Busch presented a very sharp operating canvas that Siemens is working through, their emerging narrative to handle digital transformation and equip themselves to be at the forefront of leading this.

You might have value in watching some of the sessions, short vignettes that tackle specific aspects of any digital transformation journey. These offer the Siemens perspective and are worth listening too.

So each of these questioners is part of this influencer community. I have picked out five that reflect part of the connection issues that make up our digital transformation journey

The first was a question from Lucian Fogoros, (@fogoros), co-founder of IIoT-World, was asking about the present stage we are in, relating to the digital transformation journey, relating Industry 4.0 and asking specifically about adoption rates. Dr. Busch’s reply broke this question down into the ability to deploy, how digital transformation needs to be gradual or can be undertaken in more “bigger step changes” depending on the type of industry each organization operates within. He saw digital adoption coming from “how they show up in each environment” to give us a level success rate. I liked that perspective as it signified it is relative to your own position, industry, and ability to drive change. Huge infrastructure facilities are totally different from re-equipping a whole plant for a new car. Each takes the digital journey in unique ways.

A question from Antonio Grasso (@antgrosso) a well respected and leading digital transformation advisor, zoomed in on Cybersecurity and the worries of trust, of possible roadblocks on the road to digital transformation. Dr. Busch touched on Siemens own focus through their “Charter of Trust” as they can see sustained attacks that might run down (degrade) critical infrastructure as critical to be prepared for. He touches on a concept of simulation of these possible attacks through having a digital twin and working through their Mindsphere platform where you can prepare for these attacks or get levels of adaptive security. to be increasingly secure, wherever possible. Yet it is still a cat and mouse game that needs constant vigilance to stay ahead.

Then a further question from Wilko Wolters (@WSWMUC) a digital specialist in the Automotive world and Lecturer. He raised a question about much of the current roadblock to digital transformation lies in the attitude of the people, in their awareness, current skill set and the ability to adjust and change. He emphasized the need for a “working culture” that reflects a digital transformation. Dr. Busch spoke at some length on finding a new way to unlock the potential in the people, the blending of different engineers into a team environment where software redesign gets increasingly factored in. Then the inevitable “agile development needs” and co-locating closer to market and customer needs and finally, that need for as rich a “diversity” in backgrounds, skill sets, and experiences. It is as much an adaptive challenge in changing the culture as it is ‘simply’ applying digital solutions

One from Antonio Santos (@akwyz), Atos Social Media Business Evangelist and Community Manager, asked one of those great open questions around a digital narrative of “are we talking all about the same thing?” “Are we blurring differences?” Now that has different perspectives (again) be those regional in maturity, in market and company outlooks. According to Dr.Busch we are in very different stages of evolution, there are emerging common understandings of recognizing where platforms, the cloud, data, and analytics are growing in importance to making these digital transformation changes, yet they are very different across industry type, regions of the world and even individual markets on their abilities to actually bring about change within “certain” architecture constraints. Yet Dr. Busch felt there is a growing convergence as: “we continue to mature solutions we bring this convergence”

Lastly, the one question I got the greatest value out of, was one posed by Dean Gratton (@grattonboy), a technology futurist and global influencer. Dean was asking did Dr. Busch see an end result. how would Dr. Busch and Siemens look back in “X” years time and judge success in any digital transformation? Now, this is a tricky question to answer. The reply from Dr. Busch I liked “there is no end point”, he spoke about us all being in the middle of a (digital) chess game, you can see opportunities opening up but the permutations, in this case, are constantly increasing, not closing down. “We are seemingly sitting in the middle of the chessboard”. An interesting perspective.

I got the understanding from this that we are in that wonderful world of perpetual beta. I like the work of Harold Jarche he calls this “the future of work is a perpetual beta”  You pick up the message within the Dr.Busch Q&A here that “we are connecting devices quicker than people” and how do you measure this? The need is to shape it, to leverage on the strengths we know and can see as valuable.

When asked a little further of Dr. Busch on a “harder” measurement, when looking back, it comes back to where Siemens digital business is today and where it can possibly go. Today of the digital business of Euro 5.2 billion, only Euro 1.2 billion is digital services and Euro 4 billion in digital software. It is the ability to grow this in a company that has Euro 80 billion, digital shows its (external) revenue as only 6.5% of total company revenue. This is where ‘exponential’ needs to happen.

The absolute need for Siemens is to grow this part of the business as an increasing share of total business and that requires finding better answers to deploying digital solutions to customers, designing solutions that can be replicated and not reinvented each time and continuing the search for breakthroughs in products, that provide improvements in productivity, efficiencies, in improved and efficient ways. This is, in my opinion, the way to validate and make the digital transformation through the increased ability to build new business model designs, ones that capitalize on this connecting up and the acceleration for innovation in future design, to ‘account’ for the promise of digital.

What is better in understanding digital transformation than having open dialogues?

I think having dialogues, debates, and conversations between those on the inside of our organizations engaging in open conversation with a savvy, smart and digitally aware group of outsiders have real value. Many of the questions and answers are on many a senior executives mind when it comes to digitalization.

This community forming around Siemens is a brave step initiated with Siemens Communications Group to give this richer diversity of opinion, advice, engagement. It takes “influencing” way, way beyond just today’s influencer meaning, of social media influencing. It can become an interesting model in design for companies wanting “dialogues of trust” in community exchanges.

Digital transformation is central to Siemens in its future. It offers a good “window” to observe, learn and gain from.

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