Digital Leaders Blog

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Will 3D printing disrupt the construction industry?

Apis Cor, a company that 'prints buildings', claims to have constructed the first 3D printed house in a town outside Moscow.

The house took less than a day to construct and cost under $11,000 to complete. A mobile 3D printer created the building's concrete walls and partitions as a fully connected structure, rather than printing the building in panels at an off-site facility as is usually done. The portable machine was then removed from the building, with a group of contractors completing the home - adding the roof and windows, and finishing the interior.

By shifting the construction of the building's shell to 3D printing, Apis Cor…

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In our last post (Which Countries are Leading Digital), we highlighted evidence from several studies showing that the UK was falling behind many of our international competitors in a number of key measures of digital readiness.

One of these studies was the 2016 Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) published by the EU. While the UK remained above the EU average in key measures such as connectivity, digital skills and the integration of digital technology, we were growing at a slower rate than the average. The Nordic countries of Denmark, Sweden and Finland, together with the Netherlands were leading the way, while…

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Which Countries Are Leading Digital?

The UK likes to think of itself as being a world class digital nation. The preamble to this month’s launch of the UK Government’s Transformation Strategy stated:

“The UK Government is one of the most digitally advanced in the world………We have developed the award-winning and internationally renowned GOV.UK - and have opened its code, which has been reused by governments around the world. The Government Digital Service (GDS) has led the digital transformation of government and is a model that is being copied internationally”.

Are we justified in engaging in…

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Jumping the Gun and Hoping I am Wrong

Yesterday, i read an article which appeared to leak a preview of the long-awaited National Digital Strategy for Scotland (updated).

I really do hope that i am 'jumping the gun' here but the article did raise alarm bells for me.

Based on comments from a Government spokesperson, it appears that the updated strategy will focus on four main areas - a commitment to data sharing; collaboration across the public sector; the appointment of a Digital Leader; and industry, academia, government collaboration on the digital agenda.…

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Ok I know that leadership cannot be ‘taught’, but this Spring I will be 'facilitating' Digital Leadership programmes in the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Edinburgh, Glasgow and online in virtual learning land.

With over 30 different nationalities participating across the various locations, it is critical that a global perspective is adopted.

So what progress have different countries around the world made in transforming digitally?

The Most Tech-Savvy Governments

Two of the destinations being visited, the UAE and Bahrain, are listed in the top three countries worldwide in terms of having the ‘most tech-savvy’ governments, according to the World Economic Forum’s…

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Our previous post in this series argued that Scotland’s updated Digital Strategy for 2017 and beyond should focus on measurable business outcomes, not box ticking. We should not be measuring the success of publicly funded digital support programmes by the number of companies attending digital workshops or receiving one-to-one support. These are not business outcomes.

There are only three main reasons why companies should transform digitally:

  • To increase sales.
  • To reduce…
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Following the Cut the Spin theme of Post 1, we need to ensure that the updated National Digital Strategy 2017 is built on measurable business objectives, KPIs and targets. The spin of ‘becoming a world class digital nation’ and/or ‘punching above our weight in global markets’ (whatever that means) are NOT business objectives.

Two Decades of Digital Business Support

The need for measurable business outcomes is particularly important in relation to the wide availability of digital support programmes aimed at Scottish SMEs. Without doubt, this will be a major component of the new updated national…

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Managing Digital Transformation

A recent article in the MITSloan Management Review has warned against looking for quick fixes when it comes to managing digital transformation.

In particular, three ‘superficial’ fixes should be avoided at all costs:

  • Avoid creating a transformation office unconnected to the rest of the organization: This will only create a culture of “cool kids” isolated from the rest of the workforce; as well as dismissing individuals already doing valuable transformation work elsewhere in the organization.
  • Avoid digitizing processes without rethinking the organization’s business model: Focusing solely on IT misses the point. A rapidly changing world requires new business models. Meaningful improvement must include transforming how the…
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A fascinating new report has just been published looking at digital transformation at HMRC, the UK tax authority.

The report catalogues a series of errors which, it is claimed, have resulted in near meltdown of the UK tax system. There are very important lessons to be learned here for other public sector transformation projects; indeed for the private sector too.

Keynote Summary

  • HMRC launch a 'Building our Future (BoF)' programme to become the most ‘digitally advanced’ revenue service in the world. The core ‘vision’ is to replace phone and postal enquiries from members of the public and small businesses with automated online services. This will release staff from boring administrative tasks, processing forms or speaking with…
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The Scottish Government is looking for your thoughts and contributions as it prepares an update of the National Digital Strategy for 2017 and beyond. An innovative example of crowdsourcing/co-creation at its best or a deer caught in the headlights of a digital disruption express train, unsure how to respond? Is there a crisis of digital leadership in an area critical to the future competitiveness of the Scottish economy?

Ideas and contributions are being sought in six main areas: Connectivity, Economy, Skills, Public Services, Participation and Cyber Security. As someone who has worked at the coalface of digital…

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As Scotland procrastinates in developing an updated Digital Strategy, the UAE has set itself a target of being a world leader in adopting Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies.

A six-pillar plan launched by the UAE Government, in collaboration with the World Economic Forum (WEF), seeks to transform the Fourth Industrial Revolution into a global movement spearheaded by the UAE.

The vision is for the UAE to become the first country in the world to experiment with and implement the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, creating new markets for them.

The new strategy builds on previous government initiatives promoting other disruptive…

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As digital leaders, it is imperative that we keep up-to-date with current leading-edge thinking in an era characterised by turbulent digital change and digital disruption. Our Digital Leadership Insight series provides an annotated summary of the most recent and insightful reports covering the broad themes of digital disruption, digital transformation and digital leadership.

For the inaugural July edition, we review over 25 papers, books and reports on the ‘State of Digital 2016’.

Five main conclusions emerge from the publications reviewed below:

  • There is now general acceptance across most organisations of the need to transform digitally.
  • While no industry, no organisation, no individual is immune from the threat of being disrupted, there is a growing gap between ‘leading digital’ companies and the rest. 
  • Soft leadership skills, not just technology, are critical to successful transformation.
  • There will be winners and losers…
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MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte Digital have just published their 2016 Digital Business Global Executive Study and Research Report (July 2016).

Based on a survey of 3,700 executives across 131 countries and 27 industries, the main findings from the report, entitled Aligning the Organisation for Its Digital Future, are summarised below.

  • Almost 90% of managers and executives surveyed anticipate that their industries will be disrupted by digital trends to a ‘great or moderate’ extent.
  • Only 44% think they are adequately prepared for the disruptions to come.
  • The report argues that preparing for a digital future is no easy task. It requires developing digital capabilities which fully align activities, people, culture, and structure…
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While it is understandable that discussions about Brexit will dominate the political and economic agenda in the UK for the foreseeable future, we need to ensure that other equally important issues are not relegated to side show status.

The most important of these 'other issues' is digital disruption. 

The potential negative impact of Brexit on the UK and Scottish economies will pale into insignificance if we do not rise to the challenge presented by disruptive digital change.

Digital Disruption

As argued strongly in our end of 2015 FSB Report - …

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Time to Call Time on Non-Digital 'Leaders'

Five key propositions emerge from the growing volume of publications on digital disruption and digital transformation.

1. In an era of pervasive digital change, no industry, no organisation, no individual is immune from the threat of being disrupted. Our FSB Digital Disruption Report from December 2015 listed a broad range of sectors under threat. The question is no longer whether your industry will be affected.  The only pertinent questions to ask now are how severe will the impact be (‘bang’) and over what time scale will this take place (‘fuse’) - see our previous post …

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Digital leaders in the public sector need to address top-down, rigid management hierarchies that stifle innovation according to a recent briefing note from Socitm, the organisation for public sector IT professionals.

For digital transformation to be effective, Councils need to embrace new ways of working. The 'status quo' is not an option. Digital leaders need to embrace new thinking and quickly.

The briefing note argues that traditional top-down management hierarchies are unlikely to work well in the digital age and stifle innovation. Digital leaders need to establish a culture of change and improvement, managing teams by outcomes rather than inputs.

Old constraints about when and where work should be done are often inconsistent with new digital thinking and ways of working.…

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On the 26th May this year, Glasgow City Council launched their new Environmental Task Force:

‘Rapid response teams…..deployed across the city……to tackle environmental problems such as dumping rubbish, dog fouling and dropping litter’.

The associated spin, sorry press release, was entitled ‘Glasgow Goes Digital to Deliver Rapid Response’

‘The Environmental Task Force (ETF) will revolutionise the way the city is maintained, with the public able to make its voice heard via Facebook and Twitter. This real time information from the public will be gathered at a state-of-the-art command centre in Bridgeton, with the 30 rapid response teams then dispatched to tackle the issues as quickly as possible’.

Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of…

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We are delighted to announce the launch of our Digital Leadership Masterclass in partnership with the University of Edinburgh Business School Executive Education Programme.

The two-day session takes place on the 13th and 14th of October.

Full details can be found here.

At this stage, we are taking registrations of interest in attending. All we need is your name, email address and contact telephone number. I will then arrange a convenient time to contact you to discuss your specific requirements, ensuring that programme content is relevant and customised to your own needs.

You can…

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Building Buyer Personas

As a follow-up to our last post Content Marketing: Strategy and Planning, a second article on the CMI web site provides more specific advice on building buyer personas - Buyer Personas You Want To Use.

A persona can be defined as: 

'a composite sketch of a target market based on validated commonalities - not assumptions - that informs content strategy to drive productive buyer engagement (i.e., revenue)'.

To get value from your personas, you have to take the time to build them with enough depth and insight to enable your team…

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Content Marketing: Strategy & Planning

A useful guide to developing a content marketing strategy has recently been published by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI).

The guide covers the following key issues:

  • How to get started with a content marketing strategy.
  • The difference between a content marketing strategy and a content strategy.
  • The key issues to cover in a content marketing strategy.
  • Getting executive support for the strategy.
  • Using content to stand out from the competition.
  • Ensuring that content stays on-strategy.
  • Determining the best target audience.
  • Building buyer/customer personas.

I found the last section on building buyer/customer personas to be particularly useful.

This is an issue discussed at length during…

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