I have just read a very hard hitting article by Ben Rossi on Information Age entitled ‘Why these people need to be kept away from digital transformations’.
The article issues a strong warning about the growing power of Digital Emperors defined as ‘those in the public and private sectors who are exploiting the digital wave for all its worth in spite of having no real domain knowledge, leadership capabilities or strategic vision’. The list includes politicians, civil servants, corporate execs, trade show promoters (but not Scot-Tech in my view, these guys ‘get it’),digital start-ups and venture capitalists.
The reality, according to the author is quite different:
‘Most are complete phonies or digital posers, and all suffer from a common challenge: they are digital emperors without any clothes. Genuine digital leadership is hard to find these days in any sector, but those who believe that either by title or remit that they are true leaders can be found either at every trade show or digital event (TED, SXSW, etc.) espousing their well-rehearsed opinions on all things digital.’
Ben argues that very few of these Digital Emperors have anything of substance to say or actual accomplishments (other than spending billions on transformation projects and getting little in return). Nonetheless, 'they all seem to have a cult-like following of sycophants and others who fawn over everything they promise, say or do.’
Digital Emperors are frequently found in the public sector.
‘Across the globe there are major programmes in virtually every government to digitally transform services and capabilities provided internally and to their citizens. Many of these programmes portend to transform governments themselves using what I refer to as ‘digital transformation by magic’, a common thought process where a digital emperor can simply undo the past and, armed with a great PowerPoint and some funding, they can create a new digital future for everyone overnight. In reality, it turns out to be more of a digital love fest where everyone spends their time in endless self-promotion and glory seeking while the group squanders countless fortunes on technology that users want nothing to do with at the end of the journey.'
Ben concludes that transformation is hard and not for the weak of heart. Successful digital transformation is yet to be realised anywhere. Leaving transformation to the fatuous behaviour of digital emperors is clearly a formula for disaster.
You can access the full article here.
As always, comment and feedback are very welcome.