Digital technology is impacting everything on a global scale, from stem cells to outer space. Organizations that adopt and implement digital transformation (DX) strategies, and digital maturity models are already experiencing profound changes in the way they do business and how they are perceived on the international stage. Early adopters and ambassadors of DX are not only reaping tangible and intangible rewards across many functions, they are also leading the charge and setting the bar for future growth.
Wednesday’s panel discussion, Building for the Global Marketplace: Lessons in Transformation at BCTECH Summit in Vancouver, showcased an excellent cross-section of DX adopters and innovators who shared their insights, challenges and success stories for making DX a priority in their organizations. Andrew Greer, Programs Strategist at Accelerate Okanagan, moderated a high-profile panel that included executives from Microsoft, UBM, YVR, and Kindred AI.
Microsoft: How DX is Transforming the Future
Ryan Storgaard, Senior Director, Worldwide Partner Group said that at Microsoft, DX is both inevitable and mandatory. Microsoft sees itself as a DX leader and offers three important lessons for a digital-first society:
- Deliver the Vision through digital innovation
- Implement the Universal Language of Code throughout the organization because every company is now a software company
- Develop a Strong Mission to communicate your unique value
UBM: Using DX to Eliminate Inefficiencies
Rebecca Evangelou, Executive Vice-President, Business Systems, provided excellent insight into the dynamics of implementing new digital technology amongst internal and external cross-functional teams. Her real-world case study of reinventing UBM’s email delivery platform proved that aligning technology with people and process can generate quantifiable ROI.
UBM’s email campaign delivery process once took more than two weeks to complete due to bottlenecks and steps that added no value to the customer. Rebecca lead a customer-centric Kaizen session with Sales and Marketing teams, and together they unearthed the non value added steps in the process that were emphasized by their Salesforce launch.
At first pass, over 68% of non value added tasks were eliminated. Once Marketo was added, over 81% of the inefficiencies were eliminated, and campaigns that once took over two weeks to implement, now only took 2 hours. Cost of Sales decreased by 18% and Cost per Customer decreased by 9%.
It is important to understand that when UBM launched Salesforce, it was without a DX strategy. It was only when UBM rethought the process with a DX mindset and put customers ahead of themselves, that the transformation and ROI was realized. That learning process took 8 weeks, but in the overall scheme of things, it was a smart investment.
YVR: The Perceptive Airport
Lynette DuJohn, Vice-President, Information Technology and Chief Digital Officer for the Vancouver Airport Authority, gave an excellent talk on how the airport, the largest building in BC, uses DX to engage and support the community.
Being a non-profit, non-government-funded organization, YVR relies heavily on digital technology to safely and securely move people, baggage and aircraft while maintaining a globally respected and admired customer experience. For the eighth straight year, YVR won the Skytrax Award for best airport in North America. How does YVR consistently do it?
- YVR does not see itself as another “smart” organization, but rather as a perceptive one. YVR has been shaped by the community through open forums, regular collaboration, and online feedback.
- It’s all about the data. YVR’s Digital Gateway is not just a digital hub, it’s a digital content ecosystem that connects people with their goals quickly (transportation, check-in, duty-free shopping, etc.). Only device data, such as geo-location, is harvested. Private, personal data is never required or requested.
- Duty-Free Shopping is the biggest revenue stream so using digital data to efficiently and strategically transform the way people move within the airport to their shopping destinations has been a huge step forward in creating efficiencies.
- Border-Express and Self-Serve Kiosks are solutions developed from implementing and analysing digital data. These kiosks save passengers and carriers millions of hours each year. And although digital check-in still has a low adoption rate, YVR sees this improving over time as people become more digitally savvy and environmentally conscious.
- 2037 Vision where IoT plays a large role in continuously improving the customer experience. IoT devices can create seamless customer experiences, by knowing who you are as soon as you arrive at the airport. The perceptive airport of the future will automatically check you in, recognize you when you go through security, let you know when your baggage has been loaded on the aircraft, etc. Although that may sound creepy, many IoT devices do much of that already. As more privacy and security standards are adopted and enforced, IoT devices of the future will be more secure and private than they are today.
Kindred AI: Digital Transformation through Artificial Intelligence
Geordie Rose, CEO & Co-founder, presented a provocative discussion on how quantum physics and quantum computing is changing how we think about machines that learn. Like a page out of an Isaac Asimov novel, the story is both scary and exciting with some crazy legal implications.
AI robots, or learning machines, are being built today. The difference between an AI robot and a non AI robot is in the programming and construction. Non AI robots are programmed what to do and how to do it. Robots in an auto plant are told what part to pick and how to place that part. AI robots are only programmed what to do. They determine how to do it based on environmental feedback. Here’s how:
- Sensors: the eyes and ears that sense the surroundings
- Actuators: the body and limbs that create movement
- Software: the brain that tells the sensors and actuators what to do, and uses that data to determine how to do it
AI has added a whole new dimension to how we think about DX. It’s mind numbing to even imagine living and working with learning machines, even connected IoT learning machines. You can see how mundane, rudimentary tasks will be replaced by robots. Some, like the robots in the auto plant, already have. That’s why it’s more important than ever to learn how to code. Someone has to create the software these robots use to think.
So then, what if you could build a machine indistinguishable to humans, like Data from Star Trek, or Aida from A.G.E.N.T.S of Shield? Would that machine have similar rights as we do? Could they eventually learn they are slaves and fight for their own rights? Whether or not we are able to build a machine with our perfect likeness remains to be seen and likely won’t happen in our lifetime. It’s probable, not necessarily impossible.