Have you ever looked out into the Milky Way and thought about how we all need to start looking beyond our everyday lives to reach the true breakthroughs digital transformation offers? No? Neither had I, really, until I heard physicist Professor Brian Cox speak at the recent Microsoft Business Summit in Sydney. I attended the Summit, along with some colleagues from Simple and more than 3000 other delegates, for a dose of inspiration and new ways of thinking about the nexus of business, technology and creativity. Here’s what I took away from it:
1. Digital transformation fuels reformation
As a physicist, Cox is understandably obsessed with the cosmos. He addressed the Summit eloquently on how the world-view in science changes over time, and sometimes an idea comes along that changes everything that came before it.
Albert Einstein challenged the concepts of absolute space and absolute time with his general theory of relativity.
There are loads of ideas in business that change the world-view of what came before: Amazon’s take on customer service — applied first to buying books and then to buying just about anything — is one example.
If we can keep an open mind, always be learning, as former Telstra boss (now CSIRO chairman) David Thodey reiterated later in the program, and keep our customers’ frustrations uppermost in our minds, then we remain receptive to ideas of the magnitude of those that shake up and reform the prevailing world view in our own industry.
Throughout the conference, networking with colleagues (past and present), I kept this in mind. In business, the fundamental drivers of success are employees, customers, products and operations but technology can open up these areas by challenging the accepted world view.
2. Digital leadership demands continual transformation
How many of us work as hard as we can on continual improvement and continual transformation?
Microsoft’s Corporate Vice-President Industry, Toni Townes-Whitley, addressed the conference on digital leadership. She talked about three main facets of digital leadership: transforming continuously, using technology to empower responsibly, and ensuring technology is inclusive of everyone.
She also talked about the digital feedback loop – how customer-centric companies use customer feedback and data to facilitate continual improvement, which generates more data, which ultimately brings in more customers.
By asking customers what frustrates them about their business or the services, partners can successfully identify the solutions needed to innovate products that customers are willing to buy. She also shared that assumptions are the biggest blockers to innovation because they restrict our brain from reaching its full potential of imagination.
There’s so much technology that’s around us, from artificial intelligence to augmented reality — but how can we think outside the box and put it to the best use? The Summit was a great place for showcasing new models of innovation and sharing examples of how people, data and processes can come together to create value for customers.
3. Digital innovation: the year of Blockchain?
Judging by the number of mentions at the Summit, there’s no doubt Blockchain is big! Loads of companies are experimenting with the technology as a secure way to track the ownership of assets across trust boundaries.
What is blockchain? It’s a continually growing list of records, called blocks, linked and secured using cryptography. Once recorded, the data in any block cannot be altered without affecting every subsequent block.
It’s about moving from centralised to distributed ledgers, and enforcing trust and collaboration across multiple parties — something to think about w
hen it comes to Simple’s core business of helping marketers and their creative partners collaborate more efficiently.
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