“If you have customers, you have a digital transformation mandate.”
Greg Verdino has his work cut out for him. As the closing keynote speaker at the 2018 Epic Technology Expo which happened in Winnipeg on April 25, he was the only thing standing between the 1000+ attendees and their post-event gatherings, networking and evening plans. But speaking with this digital transformation expert, I immediately knew he would have the audience hanging on every word he said.
Greg’s passion for this digital transformation — the “digital now” as he puts it — shined bright as he described where the industry is heading and how tech pros will adapt to this new world. Unlike some of his peers in the speaking circuit, he is an actual transformation practitioner who helps clients identify and take advantage of digital trends in their industries. And his experience backs it up — before partnering with his wife to start a consultancy business, he led one of the first social media marketing agencies, worked with Fortune 500 companies, held executive roles at start-ups and even wrote a popular book on micromarketing. Speaking to Greg from his home in New York, I asked five questions…
Q: Why is digital transformation such a hot topic in the tech & IT world?
A: Digital transformation is not technology transformation, it is people transformation.
My keynote was called “Digital transformation, technology trends and the future of business,” — so the focus will be on digitization trends and digital transformation of businesses.
But rather than talking about the trends themselves, the approach should be to identify the exponential changes that technology can bring about to your business. For an audience split between business leaders and technologists, the challenge would be to identify ways to leverage technology to create value for the customer while at the same time delivering value for the company.
Q: Is digital transformation & digital leadership mostly for enterprise customers? Can small and medium businesses benefit from it?
A: If you have customers, you have a digital transformation mandate, period.
Digital transformation is for companies of all sizes. In fact, small and medium-sized businesses may have an edge when compared to large enterprises in the sense that they often do not have to worry about legacy systems or other technology baggage that needs to be transformed at high costs.
On the flipside, smaller businesses often assume that digital transformation is primarily for the larger enterprises and fail to take timely actions, leaving them in catch-up mode.
Q: What part do business leaders play in digital transformation, versus the rest of the organization?
A: Whether you are a company of two or a company of two hundred thousand people, the CEO must be the Chief Digital Officer for the business.
It starts at the top because technology is only one aspect of the transformation. It involves the ecosystem of the whole organization and its interconnection points between various departments and people. However, it needs to be more than a vision that comes down from the top.
The entire organization needs to understand the “what” and “why” of the changes and how they can work together to ensure its success. Businesses no longer have an option whether they are going to be digital or not.
Q: Can a business still identify actionable insights and practical ideas when they don’t have a big marketing budget?
A: Vision and strategy developed within a company does not cost a lot of money. Digital transformation seldom happens as a single large project across an organization. In fact, it is generally undertaken in smaller executable pieces that fit available budgets.
The key is to ensure that the departments and people that are part of the transformation understand the strategy and are on board with the part they play in it.
Q: How can businesses spot the difference between fads and the future in digital transformation trends?
A: When talking about technology trends, it is easy to get caught up with buzzwords and the next shiny object. Look beyond the technology itself and understand its potential impact on your business. See past the “gears and the grinds” to identify technology trends that can seriously disrupt your business model.
For instance, SMBs can take advantage of the proliferation of enterprise-grade cloud infrastructure and services to reduce dependency on in-house technical resources needed for their business transformation.