My Digital Enterprise

I am not a tweeter, but here is my re-tweet. In several recent articles about the digital enterprise by McKinsey & Company I was amazed to hear things like:

Only 40% of companies are "incorporating digital technology into existing products or improving their technology models"
A small percentage of companies are using digital approaches for "collaborative product design or knowledge sharing across the supply chain". About 35% of organizations "have a top-line metric for monitoring their digital programs' overall progress."
And the number one reason for slow adoption was a lack of senior management interest in digital initiatives. In fact, it appears that the CEO is the only executive that "has the mandate and ability to drive such cross-cutting program[s]."

Wow, funny, because in another McKinsey study they identified that digital initiatives reduce costs on average, across ten sectors, of about 9 percent by replacing labor-intensive activity with software supported activity either through full automation or through improving the productivity of individual workers. So we have found the problem, and it is us!

Why then do we not see more adoption of digital management systems and projects? To quote another article, it's because "Data Management IS Boring."

The issues of having duplicate versions of the same file, overwriting other people's work, or sending wrong versions to vendors and contractors has no umph to it, and its even harder to put any ROI next to it. And although we have growing security concerns about distributing documents and drawings electronically around the world, it doesn't seem to be that important, as evidenced by the increasing use of consumer based box cloud services.

A recent anecdote conveyed during a conference went like this: a CEO wanted to get a copy of his strategic plan to a consultant; no problem he says, I'll put it on our cloud box provider and invite you to access it. Coool, a CEO that knows something about data distribution. But hold on bucko, he thinks instead of putting the file on the cloud he is going to put up a link instead, surely this will be more secure. The link, however, gets the consultant direct access to the executive's share on the corporate network. Guess what else is there, yep, compensation files, forecasts, product development documents, etc.

Additionally frustrating is the notion that becoming a more digital enterprise is all about getting information and data out to users for analysis and collaboration yet IT organizations are too afraid to use the primary means to doing this, the cloud. Companies do need to strike the right balance between security and mobility, that is, the use of tablets, smartphones, and other cloud-enabled devices that extend the company's wired information infrastructure. But, other than at the CEO level, it does not appear anyone is willing to implement substantial digital information management solutions because of the perceived risk. But this is an overreaction and ultimately is reducing business flexibility rather than increasing it.

So what is a girl to do? Take a deep breath and look around you. Whether you like it or not, the digital enterprise revolution is here and gaining traction everyday. Digital means less paper, faster communication, faster find and access, more (not less) security, and much greater sharing and collaboration. (Insert plug here for a previous blog entry, see More Sharing, Less Confusion.) The same McKinsey report did show a 5% increase in the number of organizations moving from selective deployment or locational deployment of digital initiatives to full enterprise deployment. The wave is coming, like it or not.

So the first thing to do in becoming digital is to complete the basics. Make sure all your assets are, or are becoming, digital. At the same time install a system to make sure these assets are secure and proactively managed. Once you do this then all sort of opportunities become available: sync files across locations and companies, collaborate real-time over files, assure everyone is using the right version (whether a manufacturing drawing, a contract, or a corporate policy), or install that business intelligence (BI) tool you wanted to try.

Scott Brandt

President/CEO eQuorum