By Gloria Lombardi

dion-hinchcliffe“Companies that are driving successful digital transformation have their Chief Information Officer (CIO), Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) and Chief Operations Officer (COO) all working together to make that happen.”

Dion Hinchcliffe is the Chief Strategy Officer at the San-Francisco consultancy company Adjuvi. Part of his work involves exploring, writing and speaking about leading cutting-edge technologies that enable new ways of working. He also works very closely with the leadership teams of global enterprises, supporting those “people who are in charge of driving significant change inside their organisations.”

Who really drives change?

Hinchcliffe believes that the much-debated discussion around who should own digital transformation is shifting.

Over the last couples of years, CIOs were mainly in charge. But, that situation has evolved. “Digital transformation has gone to the Board Directors. Today, leadership across the whole organisation is involved.”

For example, he is seeing more Chief Human Resources Officers working on digital engagement by looking at the impact of technology on employees. “They deal with the human component of change that CIOs and CMOs may be overlooking. At same time CIOs are in charge of the technical capabilities that CHROs may be lacking.”

So, it is not really about a single function. However, most companies are not ready yet to face the shift. “This is in part the reason why change is so slow in many organisations. There isn’t a good home for social yet.”

Internal comms – can they drive the change?

Hinchcliffe has worked on a variety of projects that required inputs from internal communications. He appreciates the ability of this function to “getting social media and other new forms of communications earlier on than anyone else.”

Nevertheless, when it comes to driving wide spread transformation it’s not all rosy for the profession. Hard to digest, but it seems that “they don’t possess the right expertise for that.”

“We haven’t seen them going beyond their own function and really create large change across the organisation. They don’t have the right skills and responsibility for being key players in that respect.”

The Innovator’s dilemma

Hinchcliffe has a clear view on the role of leadership. He likes to cite ‘The Innovator’s Dilemma’ while sharing a few tips:

“Be willing to disrupt yourself. Be entrepreneurial. Think like a digital native and get to know the technology very well.”

The latter is critical for him. “If you don’t know what the technology has to offer and what types of opportunities it can create, then you are very unlikely to successfully adapt your business model and bring about innovation.”

Ultimately, it is not a technical challenge though. “The problem here is one of mindset. Be willing to think differently.”

Hinchcliffe regards very highly also leaders who possess “extraordinary communications skills.” A good example is Oliver Bussmann, the Group CIO at UBS. “He is one of the best communicators around digital change that I know of. People like him as he leads by example. He is very effective in using both old and new forms of communications. That is key – today you have to be good at both old and new channels. Leaders have to bridge the two worlds to bring people on board.”

Working out loud – the new working skill

“The opportunity that social media create comes from the people who work out loud (WOL).” Hinchcliffe is a great believer in WOL as being core to today’s new digital skillset.

It increases the opportunities for people to collaborate, be involved, give and get ideas and points of view. “The more you work out loud, the more you make information freely available throughout the network. John Stepper, who coined the term, writes that WOL is the new working skill. I agree with that.”

Internet of Things

Hinchcliffe is increasingly seeing companies wanting to experiment with the Internet of Things (IoT) to help people have a better quality life. “They deliver new products and services to their customers through connected devices.”

But because of the many possibilities that the IoT is opening up, often companies don’t know where to start. “Similarly to what happens with social business transformation, the change here is not straightforward. Many organisations are still relatively blind.”

The main challenges are around security, privacy and data protection. Yet, he believes that “as the adoption of these new technologies has been already adopted in our personal lives, the same is going to happen inside the organisation.”

Micro-moments, big change

Yet, if there is something enterprises should really focus on today, that is going to be mobile. “Mobile first.”

Despite everyone talking about it, Hinchcliffe believes this territory is still relatively unexplored and full of contradictions. “There is a currently a big gap for mobile delivery to both customers and employees. There is still a lot of space, both in people’s lives and workplaces, for opportunities to get more done through new mobile applications.”

Hinchcliffe suggests adopting a holistic strategy. “Look at the thousands of micro-moments inside the organisation where the mobile experience is under delivering and consequently can be improved. The real opportunities lie precisely in those micro-moments.”

All those apps

The adoption of apps at work has been creating competing views. “When I talk with CIOs and I challenge them saying that there may be between 10 and 100 apps inside their organisations in the next couple of years, none of them ever disagree with that.”

After all that is not surprising. “How many apps do we personally download in our life depending on our needs? With the bring your own device (BYOD) and bring your own app (BYOA) phenomena, a variety of applications is also already being deployed in the enterprise.”

However, some companies are having a hard time trying to manage all these apps. Hinchcliffe also sees much interest around centralising the mobile experience through a single portal. Simply said, “IT is trying to put all the business app into one unique app.”

But “this is creating tensions between employees who want to pull together their own apps, and IT who want to make everything manageable. On top of that, and depending on the type of activity they are focused on, some apps cannot really be integrated.”

Ultimately, Hinchcliffe believes that trying to manage everything through a single centralised portal is a short-term strategy. “Instead, companies should focus on making the mobile experience not hard for their people to get work done.”

Network of excellence

“We cannot apply the old management school if we want to drive transformation. New models are emerging that are far more effective.” But what is replacing command and control? Hinchcliffe talks about the network of excellence. By this, he means leading businesses have adopted networked-enabled structures and new tools.

A good example is Schneider Electric. “They respond faster to the opportunities that digital creates while broadly connecting throughout the organisation. Those are the companies that we see are constantly innovating.”


This article originally appeared on simply-communicate