Debut of the ‘Digital Business’ newsletter

I’ve launched a newsletter called Digital Business on the Substack platform, which is designed for subscription-based editorial newsletters. The intended audience is “digital executives,” such as CIOs, CTOs and CDOs, although I can also imagine other job roles that would find this market intelligence very valuable.

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The newsletter is currently free, but I hope to eventually make it a paid subscription product, to compensate me for the huge amount of research, writing, and fact-checking that goes into it.

The first three editions are out, with lead stories about:

In addition, each issue typically has news briefs about innovative digital initiatives at U.S. corporations; C-suite job openings; and recent appointments of digital executives (who’s in, who’s out). Sometimes there’s a “brain food” section, with thought-provoking quotes about digital business and innovation.

To compile this newsletter, I read dozens of newsletters, articles, and websites each week. Obviously, I’d love to have you subscribe and find out what I’m discovering about real-world digital business initiatives & executives.

 

The ‘factory of the future’ will require massive investments in skills and data

I contributed — as a subcontractor to Lundberg Media — to a new report from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services about the deployment of technology and data to front-line workers in the manufacturing sector (“The Factory of the Future: Manufacturers Invest in Data and Skills to Achieve Efficiency Goals,” free PDF to download).

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In a recent survey, 78% of respondents strongly agreed with the statement “To be successful in the future, our organization must connect and empower its [front-line] workers with technology and information.” In the manufacturing sector, those workers are what one IT leader called “the deskless people.” They include the salespeople who deal directly with the customer; the employees operating machinery, making products, and keeping the processes running on the factory floor; and technicians out in the field servicing the manufacturer’s equipment at the customer site.

But the barriers to implementing this vision of automation — whether that’s mobile apps or augmented reality, for example — are many: the cost of deploying digital technologies to a broader employee base; a lack of effective change management and adoption processes; and a lack of workforce skills. Current workers need retraining. And they need secure, integrated, and trustworthy data to make decisions.

Pundits say the future of manufacturing involves more robots, sensors and mixed reality. But that will only happen if there’s a massive, comprehensive investment in technology, data and skills.

 

Government workers need digital tools to meet citizens’ high expectations for service

I contributed — as a subcontractor to Lundberg Media — to a new report from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services about the use of “Digital Tools for Public Works” (free PDF to download).

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The report finds that government agencies are slowly embracing the use of digital tools to empower the firstline workers who provide public services. The applications range from providing tablets to welfare caseworkers in the field, to the ability to pinpoint the location of a tire-crunching pothole with a geotagged smartphone photo.

Government executives and CIOs want to meet the high service expectations of a citizenry that has become accustomed to the speed and convenience of paying bills or ordering pizzas and car rides on mobile apps. But extremely tight government budgets (and silo-ed data) have prevented many agencies from moving as quickly as they might like.

 

CIOs NOT working with start-ups are falling behind

My IDC study, “Engaging with Start-Ups to Accelerate Digital Innovation” ($$$$) explores how CIOs can tap into the start-up ecosystem to accelerate digital transformation while managing the inherent risks of relying on start-ups for enterprise IT.

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Engaging with start-ups requires a substantial time commitment, including due diligence to avoid the pitfalls. But CIOs say that partnering with start-ups can lead to a big payoff — more innovation from emerging technologies and a competitive advantage for the business — even if some deals go sour.

There are side benefits, too: CIOs say that working with innovative start-ups can re-energize the IT group and give you a chance to peek into the future of IT.

The report covers the following practices:

  • Making the commitment to actually engage with the start-up community
  • Educating the C-suite about the risks and rewards
  • Due diligence: Asking the right questions about start-ups
  • Managing the relationship and risks

The insights come from interviews with Bryan Muehlberger (CIO of Beachbody LLC), Aaron Gette (CIO of The Bay Club Company), and Jesse Carrillo (CIO at Hines, a real estate company).

Pixabay photo released under Creative Commons CC0.

Dear CIOs: Speed matters

It’s time to hit the accelerator and turn that sluggish IT department into a high-velocity producer of business results.

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Top CIOs are speeding up the IT department’s ability to deliver business value — at the ever-quickening pace of the digital economy. Traditional IT department practices, with long lead times for requirements gathering, coding, testing, and adding hardware, can’t match the needs of today’s businesses, where “time to market” is measured in weeks, not years. As John Marcante, global CIO at Vanguard, urges his IT department: “Deliver business value at start-up speed.”

My IDC report, Accelerating IT’s Delivery of Business Value in the Digital Economy ($$$$), provides peer advice about how to:

  • Develop an IT culture built for speed.
  • Exploit cloud infrastructure and rapid application development.
  • Slash IT complexity through standardization.
  • Streamline IT processes by busting bureaucracy.

In addition to an interview with Vanguard’s John Marcante, the report includes valuable insights from Niel Nickolaisen, CTO at O.C. Tanner, and Greg Tacchetti, CIO at State Auto Insurance.

Pixabay photo released under Creative Commons CC0.