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Innovate or Fail: Tales of Digital Transformation Event Summary

Digital Midlands events are a space for the Midlands digital & tech community to connect, interact, listen and learn. On Thursday, 19 September 2019 we held our latest Digital Midlands event at The Cube, Birmingham. The topic was ‘Innovate or Fail: Tales of Digital transformation’. 

The purpose of this event was to give people the opportunity to network, meet new peers, and learn how others have tackled large scale digital transformation. We were joined by 6 amazing guest speakers which included CIOs, Transformation Directors, Cyber Security Architects & CTOs, who all shared their stories of digital transformation within the tech industry.

You can find a written summary of each speaker below the video.

Envisioning a digital journey for the customer of the future

Ray Jones, Programme Director

Ray | Innovate or Fail

Ray is an Organisational Change professional with a proven ability to implement large scale organisational, procedural, technology and people related change programmes. He has over 21 years within Retail, Automotive, IT, Telecoms and central government.

At the event, Ray talked about the importance of delivering digital customer experience and shared examples of how the journey of a customer buying a new car can be improved by using digital technology from start to finish. He talked about digital customer experience, point to point replenishment, new planning technologies, omnichannel integration and the utilisation of digital customer and demand data, sales data, service needs, and external data.

Every Company Is A Tech Company

David Maidment, Chief Technology Officer

David is a CTO currently working in Social EdTech, and has previously worked in and managed engineering teams in the retail, marketing and market research sectors.

David shared a story about how as an employee, he became frustrated with how time-consuming the daily tasks were becoming and he knew the system they had in place was not very efficient. David took it upon himself to invent a software development tool that improved note-taking and allowed users to directly add notes on each customers record. This helped to reduce fraud and cut down on manual labour, so there was no more need for paper invoices and a job that usually took 3 hours, could now be done in 3 minutes. 

David | Innovate or Fail

The new software development tool made customer returns easier by using ready to print returns labels, it used QR codes that reassured customers that their orders could be tracked, it saved a lot of time adding eBay listings and had an optimised system of replenishing stock. 

David explained that you’ll often get resistance from a technology company to make their lives easier because it’s difficult for someone to come along and tell them their process isn’t working or efficient anymore. But if you can find technology to solve any problem a company has, you can’t argue with that. David finished by saying “Every single company can be a tech company, and every single company should be a tech company”.

Innovate to Transform

Chris Booth, Interim IT Director

Chris is an exceptional IT Director who has led successful IT transformations for over 20 years. He was a PwC consultant leading global teams for over 10 years, and since then has directed digital transformations with major high street brands including lastminute.com, Cineworld, Bupa, Coral and Starbucks.

During his talk, Chris shared examples about how both Starbucks and Coral have had to innovate to transform as companies. It’s not so much of a case or ‘innovate or fail’, he said, “Innovate and you may fail and you may succeed”. Chris touched on the point that failure is a normal and even essential part of innovation. It is from this that we learn, it is the failure that drives us closer to success.

Building an Innovative Team (and why you should)

Steve Gardner, Director, Development Director | Genesys

Steve leads the development team at Genesys Birmingham. He has lead 3 Scrum Agile Teams, in Birmingham UK and Chennai India and he has over 15 years’ experience in the software industry.

Steve began his talk by pointing out that all big innovations started small. He used the example of Uber, a massive multinational transportation network company, that started with only 3 cars. Google, the search engine that receives over 63,000 searches per second at any given day, once began as an academic experiment. And Airbnb, the online marketplace used by millions for finding holiday accommodation, once started in a loft with an air mattress. 

Steve went on the explain that when building innovation in your team, you need to try to encourage creativity, build trust, give people responsibility and accountability, and remember that failure isn’t always bad. He said to be successful you need to learn from your experiences, focus on what matters and hire the right people.

Technology Your Clients Want

Fionnuala O’Kane, Head of Digital | Pinsent Masons

Fionnuala is an award-winning Programme Manager, with extensive experience in International Transformation and Change Management, Digital Optimisation, Strategic Management, Sales Planning, and Swiss Private Banking Regulatory changes and mergers and acquisitions.

Fionnuala | Innovate or Fail

During her talk, Fionnuala expressed the importance of thinking about your clients when it comes to digital transformation. She said, ask yourself how you can show your clients that you understand them. What platforms are your clients on? Think about the technology your customers and clients want, and make it effortless for them.

The Power of People 

Edward Barnes, Managing Director | CH4NGE

Ed has proven success in planning, designing and executing multi-million-pound business programmes, change and transformation in highly regulated business, technical and policy environments. He has the scars of experience, a catalogue of mistakes and critically the learning that have led to him having a deeper understanding of ‘The Power of People’ within any business transformation.

During his talk, Ed focused on explaining what ‘The Power of People’ meant and why it was important within digital transformation. To do this, he used ‘PEOPLE’ as an acronym. He explained that P stands for purpose, and it’s important to have a clearly agreed purpose that everyone can buy into. E is for Engage. He said to engage early, engage often, and then engage again. O is for opportunities, and it’s important to remain open to opportunities as you deliver, as these might become the business. P for plan, it’s important to collaborate and plan, and then challenge the plan. L stands for legal, he said it’s important to engage legal and HR as you’ll always need them. And the final E stands for employees. Ed explained that employees at all levels are the powerhouse of your organisation. 

Ed | Innovate or Fail

A big thank you to everyone that attended the event, and to our six fantastic speakers for sharing their stories and wisdom!

We hope to see you all at our next Digital Midlands Event event on Thursday, October 10, where our panel of expert speakers will be discussing the IR35 legislation, with a focus on the major risks and implications it could create for the private sector if not addressed properly.

Click here to register on Eventbrite.

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