Digital Transformation

I don’t how many times I have read about the necessity for a business to actively pursue digital transformation or fail. Then, when in a conversation you ask what that means, the conversation gets a bit ragged.

So, I went looking for something simple to explain digital transformation and found this infographic in the latest digital edition of Europe Business Review (July 2016).

The 8 steps for Digital Transformation (courtesy of Oracle) with my own commentary.

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Where is this on a CEO’s agenda? Top, middle, bottom?

I ponder how many SME CEO/MD are worrying if they have a clear digital strategy?

Who do they look to? McKinsey?



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This has been talked about for a long time.

It is not made easier as Line of Business managers impatient with IT delivery cycles vote to buy services in the cloud often without the involvement of IT, aka Shadow IT. This gives rise to concerns about security and governance.

Work together, easy to say, sometimes hard to do.


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To achieve this bi-modal IT may require additional resources (people and money) and that is why the CEO and Board need to be on-board.

It may also require a new way to deploy IT, perhaps in the Cloud or Hybrid (in the Cloud and on-premises)?

The IT that soaks 95% of IT resources are business DNA (e.g. ERP) and they are ‘untouchable’ so Mode 2 is probably going to be customer facing, see Step 5.




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Move over People Process Technology. The new way is Portfolio People Process Platform.

What changed? Oh yes, Portfolio and Platform.

The biggie is Cloud as it is transforming how businesses choose to deploy IT.




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So you will need to go figure what is bugging your customers and what value they would place on you fixing their gripes.

I get the idea, it is very clear what order you would want to commit your resources, but how do you get to know what is No. 1? Monitor your social media? Ask your customer: what do we do that really pisses you off?

Perhaps another way to look at this is: what would really please your customer and they would value? Pretty please: how can we serve you better and what difference would it make to you?

Maybe I am not the right person to write the marketing spiel for this exercise.


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This is a mindset thing and can challenge the culture of an organisation that does not like to think of failure even though the truth is every organisation has to live with failure. We just don’t like to mention the word.




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Bring in the professionals.





Cloud glorious Cloud da da da da da da…



There you go, so now you have the blueprint for a conversation about digital transformation whether that is in the pub or anywhere else. Cheers.

Mission Critical or Mission Support?

How many times have you got close to winning that sale and then it just never happened. Were you on the mission critical list? Did you ask the question?

Every vendor whatever they have to sell faces the challenge to get their hands on the money. In pursuit of that, the focus is on justifying why that money should be allocated to their proposal rather than any other and there is always competition for money for a range of projects. So you are not just competing against others that you deem ‘competitors’ but also other projects that need funding.

Know your mission

What if a customer were asked to classify what they consider to be ‘mission critical’ and for that matter ‘mission support’. That would reveal what separates one from the other and in turn provide clues to your chance of success.

These ‘mission’ terms are usually associated with the military yet they have a place in commerce as well. A quick look at Wikipedia describes mission critical as: any factor of a system (components, equipment, personnel, process, procedure, software, etc.) that is essential to business operation or to an organisation.

I can find no Wikipedia definition for mission support.

I’m interested to create a list of what is ‘ITC’ mission critical. My starter for 10. ERP (a finance system for SME). CRM. eMail. Website (the list is incomplete of course). I know some organisations that allocate 80%+ of their annual budgets to ERP and CRM so that does not leave much for anything that is not deemed mission critical.

What does that mean for those that are not mission critical? Thin pickings?

What’s on the table?

According to industry sources IT spending in 2016 is forecast at $2.3 trillion. IDC predict the rate of growth is slowing to 2% (2016) from a healthy 5 to 6% over the past six years. Does that put more squeeze on anything that is not mission critical?

So if you are not mission critical, even if you think you are, how do you attach to what is mission critical is vital and know (and have references) what the corresponding economic benefit of that is to a customer?


Where do you start looking for mission critical? I suggest that ecosystems are a good place, they are an economy in their own right and customers attach to them. Who are those ecosystems?

Here is my list:








The combined market cap of these businesses is a staggering $2.5Tn (28/7/16). To put that in context UK GDP for 2015 was reported as $2.84Tn.

One more thing, they all deliver services in the Cloud, the daddy of ecosystems.

Did I miss anyone?

Question #1: how many of these ecosystems are you part of?

Question #2: should SAP, Oracle and IBM be on the list?

Mission over for today.

Tracking down cyber-baddies

Where are the bad guys?

A lot of time and money is allocated by businesses to protect them from cyber risks that are external and that is the correct action but is there another risk already in the building?

According to a recent survey the answer is YES. What the, how can that be?

Well the people at Statista have put together a chart from figures produced by IBM. More commentary at most-cyber-attacks-are-an-inside-job

The thing is, will we now be looking over our shoulders and more than ever vigilant about what our work colleagues are up to.  Hey, you are quiet today, you up to no good?  Clearly that is out of order.  The chart tells the story, someone in the business today could be up to no good.  So how is that going to be policed and what is the responsibility of an employee to blow the whistle?

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Read this blog to know why this is so important.

Director’s Dilemma

If you are a Director of a company then this is of high importance as the UK Corporate Governance Code states that: All directors should receive induction on joining the board and should regularly update and refresh their skills and knowledge.  Cyber crime is typically left to security experts as a technical discipline but the buck stops with board and it is they who vote on the allocation of resources appropriate to the risk.  How can you make that judgement if you don’t understand the risks and so this is yet another discipline that Directors need to be savvy. That risk has just been highlighted as being ‘down the corridor’.

What questions arise?

Next Generation Sales

I am currently reading a book that in my opinion is essential reading for everyone in a sales or marketing role including the Senior Executive Team (SET).

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 08.17.28That book is ‘From Selling to Co-Creation’. Click here for a summary from one the UK’s most respected school of management.

The book addresses the fundamental question of co-creating and delivering value to customers in increasingly challenging contexts.

If you have read ‘The Challenger Sale‘ then you are already thinking in a new way about demonstrating your value as a salesperson.

This book takes selling to the next level, or is it any longer selling? If so, who is the new breed of salesperson and what skills must they possess. Before we get too carried away let’s understand that customers still buy ‘stuff’ so vendors will sell ‘stuff’ and that is going to go on. The next level creates value that is not about ‘stuff’ rather it is about ‘something I find hard to describe’ so I share an example now.


What is an expression of co-creating value in these increasingly challenging contexts?

What has one of the world’s largest automobile manufacturers and a tiny (in comparison) software company have in common?

Why did that automobile manufacturer invest a sum of money more than twice that of the software company’s last reported quarterly revenues?

That company is Ford and here is there rationale:

“Expanding our business to be both an auto and mobility company requires leading-edge software expertise to deliver outstanding customer experiences,” said Mark Fields, Ford president and CEO. “Our investment in Pivotal will help strengthen our ability to deliver these customer experiences at the speed of Silicon Valley, including continually expanding FordPass – our digital, physical and personal mobility experience platform.” Click here for the story.

I’m trying to figure how that conversation got started and I doubt it was through a conventional buyer – seller process. It would be really interesting to know who approached who and the context of the first conversation.

Who are the co-creators?

I don’t know but there are two people that count, Mark Fields, Ford president and CEO and Rob Mee, Pivotal CEO.  I would add to that very short list Bill Ruh, CEO, GE Digital.

Who else?  Help me out here.

Google mobile-friendly test

Google has given a boost to mobile-friendly websites with its new mobile-friendly algorithm.

Why is this important?

It boosts your ranking in Google search and if you are vying for Page 1 position then click here to take the Google mobile-friendly test.

Step 1

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Step 2

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Step 3

All depends on the result.

If your website is mobile-friendly watch for an improvement in your search ranking. If not, get help.

The number 1 risk to business

Your run out of cash. That is a risk but one you can at least control.

Number 1

The number 1 risk to business today is one you don’t control and you may not know if you have already been exposed or when you will be. It is not a question of IF, rather a question of WHEN.

That risk is cybercrime.

Who’s on the line?

So who is accountable for this pernicious risk?

Here is the result of a 2015 survey by the NYSE.


What are the consequences?

There is potential for significant costs and reputational damage and that is why cybercrime must be on the Board’s agenda every time they meet.

In the UK the maximum civil fine that be imposed by the ICO is £500,000.

Under the EU General Data Protection Regulation (effective May 2018) that increases to Euro 20M or 4% of global turnover whichever is the greater. That fine will take some explaining to shareholders.

The other damaging risk is to the market value of the business. That market value is in part based on reputation and can account for 38% (FTSE100) and 36% (FTSE350) of the valuation of a business.

You can now understand why this is on the CEO’s desk. If a business lost 38% of its value to a known risk like cybercrime then you might call it bad luck but more likely call for the head of the CEO.


Thanks and recognition to Kate Miller of Project Associates (UK) Ltd who presented this information at a meeting of the FT Non-Executive Directors Club on 10th May 2016 and for the sponsorship of Santander of the meeting.

Fighting back (breaking news)

On 10th May 2016 reported that IBM Watson was to lead the fight on cybercrime.  Click here to read the article.

Watson Personality Test

I learned that IBM have created a Watson Personality Test. If you like to write as I do and have 6000 words or more then you can submit text to Watson and it will deliver in seconds your individual personality insight. What is that? It is an insight into how and why people think, act, and feel the way they do. The Personality Test applies linguistic analytics and personality theory to infer attributes from a person’s unstructured text.

I gave it a go. First I used my Twitter feed fboncloud.

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The test also provides a ‘busy’ sunburst visualisation.

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Next I was intrigued to compare the output of the Personality Test for my Twitter feed with a book that I co-wrote.  Here is the summary and sunburst for the book.

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There I have been completly undressed by Watson.

Click here to receive your own Watson Personality Test.

The Millennial Parent

I read many articles that millennials are going to rule the world of work and their familiarity and competency with tech will wipe out the old brigade (anyone over 50 you’re ‘out’) and we will have a new order. I look forward to that day as I have a son and he is a millennial.

The old way

I was reflecting on the help that I received from my loving and generous parents when I started out at work. I remember they were practical with advice on transport, workwear and the gift of a briefcase.

The new way?

What is the new order for the parent of millennials? Well in my case I’ve always kept abreast of latest trends and perhaps fortunate that I work in the tech industry so that is easier done. The world is digital and one way to earn money is to consider what digital opportunities you can create. So in my case, the shiny briefcase that sent me off to work is now a relic. The new shiny object is a digital business. So as a millennial parent where do you start?

Three things came to mind in my millennial parent journey:

  1. What are my resources, money, time, and expertise?
  2. Do I have real interest in a digital business to sustain my involvement?
  3. What could I contribute that would be useful?

At the risk of being indulgent I’ll get to the point.

It is reported that is getting tougher for young people whatever their level of education to find work and government actions support that view. You can help them with a deposit for a house or subsidise their rent and perhaps support them to create a digital business. Think about it some more as you consider why the BBC is giving a computer to 1 million school children. Well done BBC. Is the millennial parent as I describe them simply the Bank of Dad or something more?

More, of what?

My experience is that it is more:

  1. I’m staying relevant by learning from millennials. I am happy to talk Facebook, Snapchat, Periscope and Twitter alongside my peers who talk LinkedIn and ‘so and so at the golf club’.
  2. The millennial needs the resources, contacts and experience of the parent. I am not as redundant as some ‘it is all about the millennial’ suggest I am.
  3. It makes me happy and proud.

This is just my own story and I’ve written it to encourage other millennial parents to share their stories. So what is your story? Tweet me at fboncloud.

The digital business is up and running. Click here to see what we have achieved.

Are you cultured?

Is the word ‘culture’ overused in the vocabulary of business? Does technology shape the culture of business now that we rock up to the job with a mobile phone and one or two other devices that are essential to get through our work. So, does culture and tech intersect?

I’ve written books for Microsoft (subject Office 365) and Google (subject Google Apps for Work) and skirted the subject of culture. So I set about putting that right and reached out to an expert in this field. That expert is Kim Wylie Change and Transformation Lead Google for Work who understandably makes references to Google in the text that follows.

Lessons in Culture

The connection between technology and culture has long been recognised and chronicled on a quarterly academic journal founded in 1959. It is an official publication of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) (isn’t Wikipedia wonderful) published by Johns Hopkins University Press with contributors principally from leading academic institutions.

In the present day, business conversations frequently reference innovation, competition, change and it is seems like the frequency of change is increasing and that has an impact on people. If, as many believe, people are the number one asset of an organisation then people need the umbrella of a culture that supports them in a demanding world. With technology part of business DNA the triangle of people – process – technology has an intersection with the culture of an organisation.

Defining Culture

A recent study by PWC found that 67% of business leaders agree that their organisation’s culture is critical to business success. Culture can be defined in many different ways, but is essentially a combination of the behaviours, values and attitudes that exist with an organisation. Google Apps can play a part in helping to change elements of an organisational culture by allowing employees the ability to communicate, collaborate and share more openly than they would have been able to do with traditional technology. According to Matt Cain from Gartner “Enterprises that focus on creating a more engaged workforce through a more social, mobile, accessible and data driven work environment will gain significant competitive advantage over companies that continue with a traditional IT orientation.”

Culture in Action

Having a strong and positive organisational culture will help improve levels of employee engagement, increase the likelihood of innovative ideas coming from anywhere in the organisation and reduce levels of turnover. A recent study done by Raconteur found that 88% of business leaders who believe their company does foster a culture of knowledge sharing and collaboration also say employee morale and job satisfaction are high.

  • Have you thought about how your organisational culture impacts your business?
  • Are people motivated to share information with one another?
  • Where does innovation come from?
  • Are all employees empowered to innovate?
  • Is teamwork and customer focus at the forefront of everything you do?

A Culture of Sharing

Many of the organisations that have Gone Google Apps have reported significant positive impact on their organisational culture. They’ve discovered numerous benefits come when people share information openly via Google Sites, Docs, Sheets and G+, when people connect face-to-face on hangouts, where they celebrate successes through sharing on G+ and when all employees are given the channel to communicate with leadership and suggest ideas for how things could be improved.

Cultural Leadership

Collaboration, openness and transparency form the foundation of a strong culture, and this is exactly what Google Apps is designed to enable.  However having the right technology in place is just one component of organisational culture change. Changes will also need to be made to behaviours and this must start with the behaviours of leaders. Leaders will need to lead by example and start sharing and encouraging conversations with all levels of the organisation to demonstrate that openness and transparency is the new way of operating.

The Cultured Organisation

How would describe the culture of an organisation that you work for, or a customer of, or supplier to? What words do you use? Culture can be hard to define and therefore hard to put into words.

Some words that come to mind: dynamic, innovative, caring, fun, trustworthy, respectful. These words that talk to culture are the values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that employees share and use on a daily basis in their work.

With technology ingrained in our work it is hard to imagine that it is not influencing culture. How that translates into the words above is something that will continue to interest me.

Big thanks to Kim Wylie.

Cloud Leaders

Who is leading the charge for cloud computing?

There is strong line up with Amazon Web Services, Google, Microsoft, IBM and many more. Who is doing the most to educate?
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Microsoft has teamed up with IDC to produce a series of eBooks that remind me of my own efforts as an author to educate my readers about cloud computing and specifically Microsoft Office 365. That book had the title Thinking of…Microsoft Office 365 and the Business Conversation?  Ask the Smart Questions. I only wish I had the idea for ‘The Booming Cloud Opportunity’ as a title.

Part 1 of the eBook series can be found when you click here. Scroll down the page to find the link to the eBook.