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Leading Digital Transformation (DX)
In my article, Digital Transformation isn’t just about employing a CDO, I discussed digital transformation and touched briefly on how important it was that an organisation had the right person leading Digital Transformation (DX), be that a CIO, CMO, CDO or COO. The aim of DX is to drive continual improvements in services, products and experiences that your customers will love and actively promote. I want to continue the digital transformational theme but delve deeper in to the leadership side of a transformation as this will heavily influence the outcome of any change initiative, digital or otherwise. Get it wrong and it will be to the detriment of your customers and business.
The aim of DX is to drive continual improvements in services, products and experiences that customers will love and promote @peteyatesnz
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Before any transformation can really be successful your chosen DX leader should possess a number key attributes, such as a visionary with a willingness to change the way an organisation operates whilst balancing the current and future needs of the organisation as well as the ability to empower individuals/teams. Their ability to converse with all parts of the organisation in terms of customer outcomes rather than technology solutions is also fundamental, that said being technology literate is also important.
Who leads is more important than ever
Lack of a clear strategy, leadership and the inability to balance the “old and new worlds” as well as being unable to attract and retain talent will seriously inhibit any organisation’s digital aspirations. The position and more importantly the person leading digital transformtion is critical in bringing those that are less digitally inclined along for the journey, by being a visionary and story teller who can navigate through what is bound to be periods of uncertainty and fluidity. Their role is to lead the business strategy, vision creation, execution and to give guidance, where they must empower and drive their teams to deliver on that strategy and vision rather than dictate. Positively challenging the status quo is also essential, as is navigating the internal politics of an organisation to DX change and to re-align mind-sets to new digital way.
Culture of empowerment
The appropriate culture and empowering of teams is key to attracting and retaining your people, whilst also providing a working environment that supports cross team working and collaboration. Leaders must show true empathy and listen to their people and customers so they are able to identify the root cause of any problem, rather than going straight to a solution. Critical to any transformation is the ability of the leader to get the company executive team on-board and the organisation as a whole excited by their vision and strategy for the transformation; this will help bring teams and people along for the ride. Articulating the new digital world will also help your teams decide if they actually want to buy in to the transformation.
“On making people pay attention: ‘You can have the best technology, you can have the best business model, but if the storytelling isn’t amazing, it won’t matter. Nobody will watch” Jeff Bezos
From an article in Forbes.com by IESE Business School on The 5 Keys to a Digital Mind-set
Characteristics/personality of DX leadership
The title of the person leading the transformation is not as important as the characteristics/personality of that leader, such as being transparent, visible, with the ability to model the new behaviours required. A visionary leader is also critical to leading Digital Transformation, especially for their ability to quickly gain organisational trust, giving them the mandate whilst allowing them to create, execute and embody the transformation vision and business strategy. With the variety of generations now in the work force understanding how to/what motive/s these people are essential – it could be as simple as celebrating success and getting to know them as individuals, and what drives them? Knowing your people will give you an insight into what motivates and ultimately engages them to ensure a successful transformation and a good leader with all the right characteristics is essential for this.
Key leadership characteristics/requirements for Leading Digital Transformation:
The mandate and confidence of the Executive team to drive change
Challenge the status quo whilst balancing old and new worlds
Visionary story teller
Models future state through actions
Navigate internal politics
Gaining organisational trust
Creating and gaining buy in to a digital vision
Empower and engage teams
Executing and driving delivery of strategy
Customer outcomes rather than technology
Reading a Microsoft blog post about a new artificial intelligence designed to play the perfect game of Ms. Pac-Man, I couldn’t help but think about playing a tabletop version of Atari’s classic video game as a kid in the entertainment centre of a hotel in Brandon, Manitoba, which happened to be next to the pool.
My sister and I would swim in the pool, then get out and run across the deck into the games room, dripping wet. We’d plug quarters into the machine, sit down to play, and –surprise, surprise – start receiving tiny electrical shocks whenever our wet fingers touched the metal part of the joystick just below the red knob.
The funny thing is, that didn’t keep us from playing. Every time our hands slipped down we’d get a little jolt of pain, but we’d keep going. Our brains registered the negative feedback, but categorized it as minor (i.e. non-life threatening) and overrode the impulse to stop in favour of the pleasure of playing and the desire to win.
A similar type of human-like intelligence seems to be at work in an AI created by Maluuba – a deep-learning start-up based in Waterloo, Ontario that was acquired by Microsoft earlier this year – which has been designed to achieve the maximum score of 999,990 playing the Atari 2600 version of Ms. Pac-Man.
The AI uses a “divide and conquer” method that involves some 150 separate AI agents working on distinct tasks. Each one is assigned as specific objective, such as eating a particular pellet. But all of the agents’ objectives – and their strategies to achieve them – are routed through a single top agent that takes a broader view and chooses a course of action. The top agent doesn’t choose how to act based on the majority of agents’ recommendations – it’s not going to steer Ms. Pac-Man into an approaching ghost just because it’s the shortest route to a bunch of pellets – but rather what’s most likely to achieve the ultimate objective of winning the game.
In my mind it’s kind of like a prime minister listening to advisors with different viewpoints before determining how to proceed based on a broader understanding of multiple problems.
This type of AI learning is called reinforcement learning, in which individual agents receive positive and negative feedback based on the choices they make. They’re programmed to try to achieve more positive feedback than negative, but the top agent makes the final call – meaning some agents’ desires go temporarily unfulfilled in pursuit of a grander goal.
Games are used in AI research because they tend to require human-style decision making, and Ms. Pac-Man is particularly well suited for AI learning due to the unpredictability of its constantly changing game situations. But the potential applications for AI trained on games go far beyond achieving high scores. As the Microsoft post points out, an AI that cuts its teeth on Ms. Pac-Man could go on to make complex decisions in business environments – such as coming up with call lists for sales executives by prioritizing clients based on known information about their histories and schedules – that end up saving human resources valuable time.
As for me, I’m keen to know what decision Maluuba’s AI master agent would have made in the position I found myself in as a kid receiving negative feedback in the form of electric shocks. What would it have deemed more important: avoiding minor physical discomfort, or enduring the pain to gobble up that last pellet to get to the next level?
I didn’t end up scoring anywhere close to 999,990 that day back in the 1980s, but I like to think Maluuba’s Ms. Pac-Man-crushing AI would nonetheless have approved of my choice to endure.
Share your thoughts
Breakdown: Buffett invests in Home Capital 2:08
Based on recent news coming out of Canada’s Largest Bank, RBC and Amazon’s recent about small business lending growth – it is clear that Digital Disruption has shaken up the Banking Sector.
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Article written for ByBlacks.com
The Auto Sector, which employs thousands – was facing a dire financial situation. The Finance and Banking sectors were dealing with the consequences of sub-prime lending. In addition to the economic recession, the United States was involved in two wars that cost thousands of lives and and billions of dollars. Welcome to the Whitehouse, Barack Obama.
While no leader is perfect, it is hard to deny that America and the world economy has improved from the Great Recession of 2008. The American economy has produced over 75 consecutive months of job growth. Obama led many reforms on Wall Street, small business financing, and investments in new industries while increasing America’s energy independence.
20 million Americans now have access to health care due to the Affordable Health Care Act (known as ObamaCare). This has helped stabilized Medicare funding for years to come.
However, if you listen to much of the debate across North America (including Canada) – you’d think nothing has changed since 2008. The key question normally asked after any political leader serves out their term is: “Are we better now than we were 8 years ago?”By all measures, America is better. Not perfect, yet it is better. But Mr. Obama’s legacy is already being attacked by many as if they forgot about 2008.
Let’s go back to 2008. If Mr. Obama was the CEO of a Fortune 500 company that was losing market share, with revenues decreasing rapidly, no innovation agency and profitability shrinking – he would be under constant pressure from shareholders. Now fast forward to 2016. If that same company under his watch improved market share, increased sales, invested in R&D/innovation, and increased profitability by almost 70% – he would be hailed as a brilliant CEO. Mr. Obama would be in line for massive stock options and bonuses. Mr. Obama would be a compared to similar CEOs who turned struggling companies around.
Yet, so many continually attack him. Right wing/conservatives have a list of complaints about Mr. Obama. And many on the left would have liked to see more aggression towards Wall Street and some more drastic shifts in foreign policy.
But the double standard that Mr. Obama has had to deal with is all too familiar to many Black Canadians and Americans. How many times are we put in a near impossible situation, deliver positive results yet are still criticized? How many times have we been punished for taking risks where many of our colleagues are rewarded? How many times are we labelled as rude, arrogant, cocky when we speak of our accomplishments, whereas our colleagues are viewed as confident. And yes, Canadians – we are talking about our experiences in Canada as well.
The difference in how many view President Obama vs. President-Elect Trump – is proof of this double standard. The fact that the President of the United States receives little credit for getting America out of the worse economic crisis since the 1930’s – is a reflection of the double standard many Black Canadians/Americans face in their day to day lives.
Despite this constant double standard, Mr. Obama has continually demonstrated class, elegance and a sense of humour. For that, both he and Mrs. Obama deserve respect and admiration from all of us
The world lost cultural icon – Prince. While millions loved his music, let’s not forget about his efforts to address social and economic justice.
This article was taken from CNN.
Prince wasn’t just a renowned artist. He was also an advocate for a more inclusive tech community.
It was this belief that inspired Prince’s friend Van Jones to start YesWeCode, a nonprofit in Oakland, which is at the forefront of a movement to get more young minorities involved in technology.
The YesWeCode initiative, which is part of Jones’ Rebuild the Dream charity, is on a mission to teach 100,000 low-income youths to write code.
The idea grew out of a conversation Jones had with Prince after the 2012 killing of black teen Trayvon Martin.
“Prince said … ‘A black kid wearing a hoodie might be seen as a thug. A white kid wearing a hoodie might be seen as a Silicon Valley genius,'” recalled political activist Jones in conversation with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Thursday.
“Let’s teach the black kids how to be like Mark Zuckerberg.”
YesWeCode is one of many organizations working to diversify tech. Their goal is to create economic opportunities for kids of color — and help build a generation of tech talent that companies can tap for years to come.
Silicon Valley’s lack of diversity is no secret. It’s apparent in the staff makeup of some big tech companies.
Take Facebook, for instance. Just 1% of its tech workers are black. It’s only slightly better — 3% — in non-technical roles. In 2014, 2.9% of Facebook’s new hires were black, according to its latest EEO filing. It’s a similar story at many other tech companies.
And the problem is also present in the funding pipeline, which helps determine which entrepreneurs get investments.
According to data culled by Richard Kerby at Venrock, 2% of partners at venture capital firms are black. That affects the kinds of entrepreneurs who get funding. “I don’t look like Zuck,” Matt Joseph, a black entrepreneur who spoke out about the issue, tweeted in March.
For black women, things are particularly bleak. A recent report found that black female founders made up just .2% of all venture capital deals from 2012 to 2014.
For all the grim statistics, there are also success stories.
Take Mamadou Diallo, a 17-year-old young man from Harlem who was recently offered a full ride to Stanford.
Diallo was introduced to coding at age 14 through a weekend coding course. He took it because it promised a free laptop — but it exposed him to a world he’d never seen before.
It’s kids like Diallo that Prince wanted to help. Prince used his widespread appeal to promote YesWeCode and other initiatives. He headlined the ESSENCE Festival in 2014, where YesWeCode was launched with a youth-focused hackathon.
But Jones said Prince didn’t boast about the work he did. He helped support Rebuild the Dream and donated to other organizations like Eau Claire Promise Zone in South Carolina, which helps prepare community kids for college.
“He really believed that young people could change the world,” said Jones, who is a CNN commentator.
Prince was a teen when his career got started, one of the reasons why he was so passionate about helping the younger generation find success.
“He believed in the Black Lives Matter kids so much — and he had a dream for them,” Jones said. “He said, ‘I hope that they become an economic force. I hope that they use their genius to start businesses.'”
General Motors is investing $500 million in Uber competitor Lyft, the automaker announced Monday. The money makes up half of a $1 billion funding round that leaves Lyft valued at $5.5 billion.
Why is GM, one of America’s Big Three automakers, investing in an on-demand ride-hailing company? After all, the more people use services like Lyft, the less they’re likely to buy cars of their own.
The answer: Driverless cars. “We see the future of personal mobility as connected, seamless and autonomous,” said GM President Dan Ammann in a statement. “With GM and Lyft working together, we believe we can successfully implement this vision more rapidly.”
The “future of mobility” concept is gaining lots of steam in Detroit. Ford CEO Mark Fields, for instance, has been talking about what he calls “smart mobility” for at least a year. The Dearborn, Michigan company is experimenting with projects like car-sharing apps and Internet-connected bicycles. It has also opened an office in Silicon Valley, along with other car companies.
Taken together, these moves and others represent an acknowledgement among automakers that our relationship to vehicles and transportation is on the verge of a potentially massive paradigm shift. For decades, a big part of the American dream has been a house in the suburbs with one, two or even three cars in the garage. But self-driving cars stand to upend all that. Why would anybody spend tens of thousands of dollars on a vehicle that sits idle for most of its life, when they could just hail a self-driving car with the tap of an app instead?
And that’s what the GM deal with Lyft is all about. GM, still recovering from a costly and brand-tarnishing recall over faulty ignition switches, gets access to Lyft’s technology as well as more clout with Silicon Valley engineers seeking the most interesting jobs. That will help it compete with Ford, Fiat Chrysler, Tesla and the rest.
Meanwhile, Lyft gets some of the funding it badly needs to compete with Uber. Investors say Lyft’s bigger rival is about 10 times more valuable; Uber is using its massive war chest to do its own autonomous car research as well as expand at a nearly incomprehensible pace. The GM deal should help Lyft extend its life as a smaller but still potent number two in the ride-hailing space.