Month: January 2018
A recent Forrester Research report, Predictions 2018: Automation Alters The Global Workforce, predicts that companies that master automation won’t just succeed—they will dominate their industries.
While automation may sound vaguely science fiction-y, almost every workplace in 2018 already benefits from automation. In its simplest form, “away from the office” messages on email accounts are a form of automation. Other companies have taken automation a step further by embracing virtual agents, customer self-service solutions, and forms of next-gen artificial intelligence (AI) technology.
You walk in and you’re struck by the convivial vibe. Some hipsters linger around a tall table talking cryptocurrencies, while across the room a buttoned-up crew huddles around a coffee table, examining what looks like an architecture diagram. Turn a corner and a portrait of Steve Jobs covers a wall. A closer look reveals it’s constructed of floppy disks. The door of a small meeting room reads, “The Batcave.”
You can cut the irony with a robotic knife. It’s no surprise that this innovation lab—christened the “Digital Garage” by its designers—shares common traits with those of its Toronto neighbors Google, Amazon and eBay. But the lab is part of a company that wasn’t exactly born digital: Aviva, a multinational insurance company, is over 300 years old.
Anyone who has recently visited an airport has witnessed the travel industry’s propensity to retain outdated and archaic technologies. From dot-matrix printers to old terminals deployed by airlines for seat management and other activities on the administrative side, air travel especially remains an antiquated affair. However, this reality is not just endemic to the experience at the flight counter, but extends to the entire travel industry, which has largely stagnated in lieu of limited efforts towards innovation.
While a few services have sprung out of the internet era to smooth over some of the friction associated with building travel plans thanks to online booking and review services, they have not entirely solved many users’ pain points. In many cases, these monopolistic forces have created numerous asymmetries that do more harm than good when it comes to travel, mainly by adding to the costs associated with tourism instead of adding-value. Thankfully, technology is once again coming to the rescue, this time in the form of blockchain and its revolutionary capabilities that can streamline services and help eliminate redundant intermediaries from the equation.
When it comes to digital transformation in the financial industry, insurance companies have been lagging far behind in some ways. Encumbered with many of the problems besetting the banks, such as legacy systems, statutory and governance requirements and business models that are up to 300 years old, they see transforming into a digital presence as an uphill task. Yet in some ways, insurers have leapfrogged new technological hurdles, especially when assimilating the Internet of Things by using devices both to assess claims and to reduce risks.
Insurers such as State Farm have been using telematics in weather risk mitigation for years and are expanding the use of sensors into automobile and home insurance. For motor insurance, the Canadian branch of State Farm is using a combination of a mobile app together with the sensors in the phone to record the driving habits of the insured customer. Good driving results in reduced premiums, so everyone wins. Also, home insurers are given a free leak detector when they sign up for the Alert program.
Business roadmaps establish a linkage from corporate strategies (the why) to releases (the when) and finally to features (the what) in a chronological plan. Strategic goals that are visually represented in a business roadmap keep stakeholders aligned and on track.
Business development assumes that the operational strategy can be successfully executed. That’s not always the case. A roadmap for business introduces the concept of continuous evolution toward an unknown objective. We know, in general, where we need to go, but there are small details around how to get there. That’s acceptable if we capture what we know today.
Roadmaps present visions in two forms: staged and continuous. The staged format concentrates on a specific start and end to the business journey. For example, in healthcare, there might be a roadmap that starts at the first contact with the patient and ends with the last contact for that specific episode of care. The benefit of a staged approach is that there’s a clear start and finish that needs to be mapped. The challenge is that iterative processes—critical processes or capabilities that ebb and flow—may be left out of the map and, therefore, impact our future strategy.
The digital revolution can be brutal, and companies that fail to keep pace with it will quickly find themselves replaced by one of their more technology-savvy competitors. That means companies need to step up their IT activities to avoid a competitive disadvantage — and they need to find the right technologies and ensure they remain secure along the way.
Using the right technology is half the battle
In times like this, it’s increasingly important to provide reliable IT infrastructure. As a result, in their search for reduced costs and increased agility, many companies are looking — cautiously — to shift their entire IT environment into the cloud.
For those that do not know her, Whitney Johnson is a former investment banker turned Harvard Business School Leadership Coach. Her newest book is entitled “Building an A Team” and builds upon her prior book “Disrupt Yourself.” I asked Whitney to join the #CIOChat last week because our members were interested in hearing fresh perspectives on leadership and management. Without question, Whitney provided this through the dialog, but she also provided a view into the leadership styles of CIOs.