relayr was honored with an invitation to the 2015 INKOP conference. This conference, with some of the world’s top IT executives in attendance, was a great opportunity for our team to gain insight and share knowledge about digital transformation and its importance in the mind of CIOs.
What is INKOP?
INKOP is a two day IT digital leadership conference, organized by some of the most influential business leaders in Europe, focused on the growing role that IT Innovation is playing in organizations around the globe and how to capitalize on it.
Who attended INKOP 2015?
There were roughly 250 IT executives in attendance, representing organizations from a wide variety of industries. Among the presenters were the winning start-ups of the FINAKI Innovation Challenge held in June 2015 during the 2nd FINAKI Innovation Summit, of which relayr was one.
What topics were covered in the leadership workshops?
There were eight workshops, spanning two days:
- Digital Business Models – Challenges and success factors
- Recipes for Digital Innovation Management – Fast food or a la carte
- Information Security – Can we balance security and innovation?
- Sourcing Strategies for Successful Digital Transformation – Opportunities and risks of strategic partnerships
- Decentralization 2.0 – The underlying infrastructure for digital transformation
- Industrialization and the Cloud – More agility and flexibility through digitalization
- 2 Speed IT – Digitalization and balance between innovation and stability
- Success Factor Human – What skill structures and methods do our human resources need to enable digital transformation
Success Factor Human is the panel you participated in. What were some of the concerns that were discussed during this panel?
One main focus of the panel was on the role of the CIO during digital transformation. We discussed whether or not the CIO is really leading digital transformation or if that role is better assigned to other C-level executives like the Chief Technical Officer, or if a Chief Innovation Officer or Chief Digitalization Officer should be appointed to drive the initiative.
At one point I was asked, “Whom are you targeting with your message about digital transformation?” My response: “We don’t care what the title is. We’re talking to the person in the organization that is leading the digital transformation. That person won’t always have the same title or role within an organization. Often it will be the CIO, but not always.”
It’s not a matter of what your job title or role is, it’s a matter of identifying which person within the organization has the excitement, curiosity, interest, and drive to actually step up and take the lead in digital transformation. It’s more about having the right person driving the digitization than their role or title. Ideally, this person is the CIO, but I have many examples of CIOs that are extremely busy with other responsibilities like office rollouts and SAP migration, and don’t have the time or ability to focus on digital transformation.
Another panelist, Elizabeth Hoeflish – CIO of Continental AG, said it also depends on how the CIO understands and drives the whole thing, because you still have to explain it to the CEO and other stakeholders. For example, the CEO of Continental has an engineering background, not a technology background, and is focused on other areas. Digital transformation is not something he has extensive knowledge in, so it falls to the person driving the digital transformation to educate the CEO on the process.
This led us to discuss education and how to deal with closing the skill gap in the corporate environment.
Everyone on the panel agreed that digital transformation is a critical journey that all companies and organizations MUST go through for their future success, especially in Germany, if we are to maintain our solid leading position in the world when it comes to engineering. Ignoring digital transformation puts corporations at risk of other companies that embrace the challenge to come in and “eat their lunch.”
What insights did you gain from attending this leadership conference?
I’d say I got quite a few insights from this conference, but I’ll stick with these three:
- There is a huge awareness, amongst all these leaders, that we need to do something. The train has already left the station and we have to hurry to catch up and jump aboard the train.
- The skills gap for digital innovation is very real and something that is a large concern across all types of organizations. We need to focus on developing the right level of skills and bringing our workforce up to speed in them.
- The culture in German business and technology is to be methodical, precise, and typically very risk averse. This culture is slowing down German innovation and putting us at risk of falling behind. If we’re to continue to be success leaders in business, we need to embrace rapid prototyping and the quick feedback loop of trial and error and improvement.
Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share?
We’ve been saying it from the beginning at relayr, and being involved in this conference has highlighted even more, you can adjust as you go but you must start now. Even if you start implementing an IoT based system today, it needs two full years to learn to build synapses, to connect the dots, to build the eco-system. The system has a two year learning phase and you can never circumvent those years. The system needs that time to get the full picture. If you start next year, it’s still going to take two years to be fully up to speed. So, start small but start now!