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Change Management

How do you know your organization is ready for digital transformation?

As digital technologies continue to transform entire industries, many organizations are going through large-scale change projects to keep with competitors and digital trends. In a previous post, we asked experts how to get started with digital transformation. But it begs the question: how do you know if your organization is ready for digital transformation in the first place?

Instead of simply giving you our own opinion, we reached out to leading digital transformation experts to give you a compilation of the best thoughts across the field. Specifically, we asked these influencers:

What is the most important success factor in any digital transformation?

Be warned, some of their forward-thinking answers may surprise you!

Dion Hinchcliffe, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

“For a digital transformation to succeed, it must successfully combine and sustain tech change with human change. It’s not enough to seek to remake one’s digital capabilities if you don’t have the people with the talent, mindset, skills, and ability to execute. A digital culture and true freedom to innovate are just as vital as adopting new technology.”

Dion on LinkedIn | @dhinchcliffe on Twitter

Ronald van Loon, Director, Advertisement

“Digital transformation requires agile, customer-centric teams that can easily adapt to the ever changing state of client demands, as well as a solid, end-to-end enterprise data management platform that can help businesses prepare for intelligent capabilities. Combined, they form the backbone for establishing a digital businesses, that can adapt to the ever fluctuating state of technology in a modern world.”

Ronald on LinkedIn | @Ronald_vanLoon on Twitter

Tamara McCleary, CEO, Thulium

“The most important success factor in any digital transformation is people. It’s the culture of an organization that either speeds along or completely stalls digital transformation. Focusing on the culture, the human beings tasked with transformation is the most important success factor.”

Tamara on LinkedIn | @TamaraMcCleary on Twitter

Mike Quindazzi, Managing Director, PwC

“Digital transformation isn’t just about new technologies – it’s about what the technologies can enable humans to accomplish. It involves new business models that solve complex problems, create distinctive customer experiences and accelerate the workforce’s ability to create a competitive advantage.”

Mike on LinkedIn | @MikeQuindazzi on Twitter

Theo Lau, Speaker, Writer, Startup Advisor Founder, Unconventional Ventures

“Having a clearly defined vision of where the company should and needs to be is, in my opinion, the most critical success factor in any digital transformation project. This will help drive the ‘how’ towards the end state, and obtain buy-in for the ‘why’.’”

Theo on LinkedIn | @psb_dc on Twitter

Jim Marous, Co-Publisher, The Financial Brand

“Digital transformation is not about converting paper to PDFs. It is about rethinking underlying processes to take advantage of the benefits of data, advanced analytics and digital technology for a better end result. By starting from the inside-out, costs can be reduced, revenues can be increased, security can be enhanced, errors can be reduced and customer experiences can be improved.”

Jim on LinkedIn | @JimMarous on Twitter

Alvin Foo, Managing Director, Reprise Digital

“Successful digital transformation for any organization starts from the top! The leadership team must be clear with what they want to achieve before the mission can be driven down. The transformation process should be aligned with the customer needs, wants and priorities with digital at the core.”

Alvin on LinkedIn | @alvinfoo on Twitter

Danielle Guzman, Global Head of Social Media & Distributed Content, Mercer

“Culture is the most important factor in digital transformation. It is much more important than technology. Having a strong set of shared values and beliefs that drive a change in behaviors will enable an organization to get through the most challenging hurdles along the way. Ultimately, success comes through a both a top-down and a bottom-up approach.”

Danielle on LinkedIn | @guzmand on Twitter

Chris Becker, CEO at NetEffect

“To maximize your success in digital transformation, you must ensure you have a clear and measurable understanding of your objectives at the top, including the commitment to see the efforts through in the face of obstacles, delays and adversity. This isn’t easy and it takes time. Assess the organization and people side of the transformation – how talent needs, gaps, roles, and skills will change – and most importantly, do not procrastinate on starting this part of the journey.”

Chris on LinkedIn | @beckercs on Twitter

Andreas Staub, Managing Partner at FehrAdvice & Partners AG

“In a word, culture. Digital transformation is successful or fails with human behavior. I love the quote by Clay Shirky: ‘Revolution doesn’t happen when society adopts new technologies—it happens when society adopts new behaviors.’ Therefore, I’m convinced that culture is the most essential success factor and we have a lot of empirical evidence from projects with banks and insurance companies in Switzerland.”

Andreas on LinkedIn | @andi_staub on Twitter

Michael Krigsman, Industry Analyst

“Digital transformation is about people, not technology. Establishing the right culture, mindset, goals, and metrics is, therefore, a key success factor for any program of digital transformation. Of course,  factors related to people are the hardest to change and demand real attention from senior leaders.”

Michael on LinkedIn | @mkrigsman on Twitter | Website

Tiffani Bova, Growth & Innovation Evangelist

“Digital is about technology. Transformation is about people and motivating teams to change their mindset.”

Tiffani on LinkedIn | @Tiffani_Bova on Twitter

In today’s world, the need to transform your business and embrace digital technology is recognized across almost every industry. However, a real challenge for many organizations is ensuring that the investment of time and energy, which is often heavy, is well spent.  

While no organization can ever be completely ready for a digital transformation, there is a lot you should be doing before the project starts to ensure its success. To help, we created a short, 3-5 minute self-evaluation to help you assess your readiness for success with your project.

Download this self-assessment if you want to:

  1. Identify pain points and vulnerabilities that will help you succeed in your digital transformation journey.
  2. Evaluate how well the platform competitors deal with these challenge areas.
  3. Avoid surprises that can undermine your success.
Change Management Digital Transformation Disruption Organizational Design Technology

Top Reads: 7 Self-Assessment Areas for Digital Transformation and AEM Readiness

Are you in the early stages of undertaking transformative change with your organization? Change can be both exciting and intimidating, depending on your level of preparedness. This is true whether you are adopting an all-in-one experience management system like Adobe Experience Manager or even digitizing paper processes. To help with your preparation, we’ve compiled a fantastic collection of articles in the areas we believe are most critical to a successful transformation.


Successfully implementing a large-scale project requires a deep understanding of your ultimate goal and the strategy that will get you there. You must have a clear vision of success, objectives that tie into your overall business objectives, and a realistic understanding of what can be reasonably achieved.

Leadership commitment

No major transformation is a one-person job. Do you know who your key stakeholders are, and are they engaged and committed to the success of the project? Is your project a priority at the highest level of the organization? Do your executives have the skills to lead the company through the change?

Change management

As we’ve said before, change is hard. There’s simply no getting around it. But being realistic about the magnitude of the change and communicating effectively with your team can go long way toward easing the growing pains you are bound to experience.

Organizational alignment

When you think about your organization as a whole, how would you rate its capacity for change? Large-scale projects require an enormous amount of bandwidth, and the attention and coordination of business units across the enterprise. Having the right culture is an important and often overlooked factor.

Business alignment

An effective digital transformation isn’t simply doing things differently; it can fundamentally change the nature of the business itself. When you assess and redesign your business processes, it can call into question some ‘sacred truths’ about your business and operating models, and force you to redefine what it means to deliver value to your customers.

Technology alignment

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of digital transformation is the promise of new capabilities provided by technology. Even skilled IT teams can be pushed to their limit in adopting new tech. It’s important to recognize when outside expertise is needed, and be open to it. CIOs and other tech leaders will need to be both flexible and disciplined to make the project a success.

Risk and security

Nearly any big change comes with some kind of risk. The important thing is being aware of the risks involved and doing what you can to mitigate them. Maintaining the security and integrity of your data has to be a primary concern.

We hope you’ve found the articles above helpful in preparing you for the change you are about to undertake. Ready to assess just how prepared you are?

Download our 21-point readiness assessment here.

Change Management

Are you ready to succeed in digital transformation of your business?

Whether you have already chosen Adobe as your enterprise marketing platform, or are currently evaluating other options such as Salesforce, Oracle, or IBM, it’s vital to understand how well-positioned you are to succeed at transforming your organization’s content strategy.

The benefits of transforming how you produce and distribute content in your organization are many:

  • new customer acquisition,
  • organic growth of your existing customer base,
  • new product launch awareness,
  • higher search result rankings (SEO),
  • increased earned media,
  • increased marketing team efficiency, and more.

Above all, the opportunity is to create a best-in-class experience for key stakeholders, including customers, employees and target markets.

Choice and access to content is greater than ever. Getting your message through is harder than ever and requires mastery of several key areas:

While technology is often the most tangible and high profile element contributing to your success, it is usually not the greatest challenge facing a digital transformation project. Everything on the technology side can go perfectly and efforts can still fail due to your organization’s inability to plan for and execute change.

We have developed a self-assessment tool to help executives assess readiness for digital transformation and to aid in building a strategy and implementation plan for achieving success.

In our experience, success is based on seven key areas: Strategy, Leadership, Change Management, Organizational Alignment, Business Alignment, Technology Alignment, and Risk and Security. So, we’ve developed 21 questions, 3 in each area, to focus you in on how ready you are to succeed.

No organization is ever fully ready for the digital transformation journey right out of the gate – nor should that be expected. Tireless energy is required to manage and improve capabilities on many fronts. So, don’t worry if, after completing this assessment, you end up on the low end of the spectrum. All the better to gain insight and plan now to address the issues in advance. The journey itself also helps drive actions and learnings that close the gaps and build the capabilities needed for success.

Download this self-assessment if you want to:

  1. Identify pain points and vulnerabilities that will help you success on your digital transformation journey.
  2. Evaluate how well the platform competitors deal with these challenge areas.
  3. Avoid surprises that can undermine your success.
Change Management

Corporate Innovation Q&A with Chris Becker

NetEffect CEO Chris Becker was recently featured in a roundtable discussion on Corporate Innovation hosted by Check out the full discussion here or read Chris’ responses below.

What is one example that comes to your mind when you are thinking of corporate innovation?

A great example of corporate innovation is Starbucks. They have combined their high-quality products and dedicated customer base and deployed a range of innovative digital tools to re-invent their coffee-buying experience. Not only can you pay with your mobile app which is connected to your credit card or PayPal account, but you can also place your order in advance and pick it up at any location – talk about a frictionless experience! Not only is Starbucks innovating in the coffee business, they have become one of the largest mobile payment providers as well.

Through the Starbucks Reward Program, they are collecting large amounts of exclusive customer data that assist them in trying to craft the perfect personalized experience. While other companies definitely use loyalty programs and various digital tools to understand and design a seamless customer experience, to me, Starbucks always seems to be one step ahead of the rest.

Why is corporate innovation getting more attention now than ever before?

With the rise of disruptive platforms like Airbnb, Amazon and Uber specializing in fast and simple customer experiences, CEOs everywhere are realizing they need to innovate in order to keep their businesses relevant in this rapidly changing digital world.

In the past decade, large companies have started to see small startups entering their industries and starting to have an impact. With daily business conversations centering around ‘digital, cloud, mobile, social, big data’, CEOs and business leaders are under increasing pressure to understand and assess the risks and opportunities. Many CEOs have jumped on the innovation bandwagon, as they no longer have an option not to. Corporate innovation is and must continue to be a major topic of conversation.

How are large corporations working with entrepreneurs and startups to improve their business?

Entrepreneurs and startups can hold the key to innovation that corporations often lack. They can breathe life into them with fresh eyes, unique problem-solving skills, critical innovations and the potential to tap into new and expanded markets.

Corporations are not startups and really shouldn’t strive to be. Rather, as discussed by Tendayi Viki, established companies need to create innovation ecosystems, recognizing different areas of the business as distinct business entities, each at a different level of maturity. Some corporations are starting to take this ecosystem approach, which helps them work with entrepreneurs and startups to gain a unique solution to a specific problem.

How can corporations break out of the classic rigidness associated with large rigid organizations and become more flexible?

A common trap for killing innovation is to follow a traditional approach that comes with rigid corporate business models: striking up a project team, creating a committee or having ‘regular meetings’. Forget it. If these activities haven’t worked in the past, even for more standard efforts, why would they work for your most challenging and disruptive priorities?

While there’s no one recipe for success and every business situation is different, learning how to adapt your mindset and organizational culture to digital innovation and transformation only increase your likelihood of success.

Creating disruption from within is about more than launching a new initiative with a catchy name or creating an investment fund. It can’t happen without teaching your people how to think and behave more like entrepreneurs, risk takers, and innovators. You need to make people in all parts of your organization accountable for voicing new ideas, taking chances, challenging norms (and senior management), and moving things forward in a sometimes ambiguous environment.

Without vocal, repeated and demonstrable support for these behaviors, sustained innovation will not happen.

An organization’s people are the drivers of innovation and disruption. Corporate executives need to nurture this environment, not try to control and direct. The ideas that will drive the long-term success of a company do not come from steering committees. People that live and breathe the business, serve customers day in and day out, know the intricacies of the products and services, and understand the good, the bad and the ugly of your company – they are the ones who will lead the way.

Change Management

Change Management in Your Organization

In previous posts, we’ve shared some expert opinions for getting started with digital transformation, as well as some recommended reading on the topic. And while technology gets a lot of the attention, the truth about transformation is it has more to do with people. ‘Transformation’ means change. Change is hard. So I’ve compiled a handful of articles of interest to any leader responsible for change management within their organization.

What Everyone Gets Wrong About Change Management

“With serial transformations becoming the norm, a key strategic question for any corporate leader is, How can we make our next transformation flourish?”

In this piece from HBR, N. Anand and Jean-Louis Barsoux lay out some common ‘transformation traps’, including getting distracted by too many priorities. Read more

Why We Need To Rethink Organizational Change Management

Even with the best of intentions, many organizations are simply not set up to manage change well. Consider the organizational design of your company – is it nimble or is it rigid? Do change mandates come exclusively from the top, or are individual team members empowered to contribute ideas and find solutions? You can communicate about change all you want, but it will continue to be painful if your company is designed for stability instead of agility. Read more

12 Principles of Successful #CEM Change Management

Change is hard, and it’s also inevitable. And perhaps one of the hardest things to change is the experience your customer has throughout the course of their interactions with the various touchpoints of your business. If you’re having trouble getting your team to adopt the change you want to see, your organization may be experiencing change fatigue. Have a look at these 12 principles of customer experience change management, expanded from Dr. John Kotter’s 8-step process for leading change. Read more

Change Management for Digital Transformation: What’s different?

It’s not enough for CIOs to address the technical components of change. An effective change management strategy must address a company’s culture, not just its processes. CIOs will have to work collaboratively with the rest of the executive team to enact meaningful, permanent change beyond IT.

“…it’s not necessarily the competition that’s going to change the way you do business, it’s the customer.”

Read more

5 Ways to Lead a Change Management Initiative

Some projects, when executed successfully, have the potential to take your business to the next level. Those same projects can be disastrous for a company if they fail. In this piece, Andy Crowe list five best practices to follow to make sure your change management initiative is successful. Read more

Change Management Disruption Technology

Corporate Innovation: 5 Must-Read Articles

In a previous post, I drew your attention to 5 articles I consider ‘must read’ for anyone interested in digital transformation. In a similar vein, the articles in this post are centered around corporate innovation, i.e. the intrapreneurship that happens in large companies, allowing them to evolve and grow like startups. Below are some recent articles on the topic of corporate innovation that I highly suggest you check out.

PS: interested in keeping up to date via Twitter? Subscribe to our Corporate Innovation Twitter list for thought leaders to follow.

The Business Case Alternative: How to Support Disruptive Innovation at a Large Company

What’s keeping large companies from innovating? After all, they have more resources than most startups can even dream of, and yet they struggle to launch and sustain novel, game-changing projects. As Steve Glaveski points out in this piece, many large firms use metrics that work well for traditional projects, but fail to adequately measure new and innovative ones. He goes on to explain how disruptive ideas differ from incremental improvements, and how big companies can allocate resources to help them flourish. Read more

Confessions of a change agent: How I get Fortune 500 companies out of their ruts

Every company gets ‘stuck’ at some point or another. Even large, successful ones. In this (massive) article for GrowthLab, change agent Thomas Cornwall explains how he helps established companies break out of their ruts and build fresh momentum. It’s a longer read, but absolutely worth it. Read more

Five Principles for Building Corporate Innovation Ecosystems

Tendayi Viki, author of The Corporate Startup, argues that established companies should not try to behave like brand new startups. Instead, they need to create innovation ecosystems, recognizing different areas of the business as distinct business entities, each at a different level of maturity.

“[Established companies] have to be clear that they are not simply searching for cool new ideas. It is the combination of cool new ideas and profitable business models that defines successful innovation.”

In this article, Viki summarizes the five principles from his book that established companies can use to build their innovation ecosystems. Read more

Why Cross-Functional Teams Fail, and How Solver-Teams Sail!

If you’ve ever run a ‘cross-functional’ team project, you know how difficult it can be to get people from different departments to work together to a shared outcome. In this piece by Ajay Shrivastava, he explains how ‘Solver’ teams differ from cross-functional ones, and how you can align those teams within your organization. Read more

10 Powerful Innovation Principles for Market Disruption

These days, companies must innovate if they want to survive. In every industry you can think of, startups in hyper-growth mode are nipping at the heels of incumbents – if not challenging them outright. So how can companies learn to innovate, in order to compete? As Marc Foglino says of this post, “Innovation is hard, but these ten innovation principles might help you to improve your chances of success.” Read more

Change Management Disruption Technology

How to Get Started with Digital Transformation

We recently published a list of top digital transformation influencers to follow on Twitter. Given the popularity of the post, we reached out to four of the influencers on the list – Kirk Borne, Michael Krigsman, Dion Hinchcliffe and Ronald van Loon – to gain actionable insights into the process of digitally transforming businesses and organizations.

Specifically, we asked them:

What advice would you give to companies and individuals who are interested in pursuing digital transformation, but don’t know where to start?

Here is what they told us.

Three steps to self disruption

Digital transformation is a comfortable way of describing the 4th Industrial Revolution, which corresponds to the current emergent fusion of cyber, physical, and human systems. Any revolution is disruptive. So, think about digital disruption if you are planning to start on this path.

First, you must realize that the pursuit of digital transformation requires changes in mindset, in culture, in strategy, and in your talent model. It doesn’t necessarily require a change in your business goals — after all, your unique contribution in the marketplace should be enhanced and transformed, not necessarily tossed out entirely, unless you are starting an entirely new line of data-informed services and digital products. Digital transformation therefore represents a new (transformative) way of doing things, not simply a new thing to do.

Second, after this realization that you are attempting to surf the wave of a new revolution, then comes the assessment of what are your sources and types of digital signals (data emanating from your customers, your suppliers, your employees, your services, and your products)? Those digital assets are the fuel to bring about your digital transformation. So, what are these digital assets fueling?

They are the fuel for your third step in the digital transformation journey, which is to achieve the business goals that are powered by your digital assets and data products. So, ask yourself what are you focusing on: discovery (e.g., customer segments, emerging trends, fraud, new markets), prediction (predictive analytics), optimization (prescriptive analytics), and/or (my favorite) generating new questions and identifying new context to inform the next best action for your business (cognitive analytics)? Considering that you are seeking to play a part in a major revolution, you should buckle up for some rapid accelerations, re-directions, and new opportunities to enrich your digital transformation journey. 

Kirk D Borne

Dr. Kirk Borne
Principal Data Scientist and Executive Adviser, Booz Allen Hamilton

Don’t try to boil the ocean

Digital transformation is a simple and convenient buzzword that often masks the broad, organizational reach associated with genuine evolution and change. The transformation journey must begin with a clear understanding of why we need to change.

Consider questions such as:

  • Is our business model durable?
  • What’s happening in the competitive environment?
  • Have our customers’ expectations of us evolved over time?
  • Is our technology up to date?
  • Do we have the skills necessary to compete in the future?
  • Has our supply chain adapted to the changing environment?

These questions quickly shed light on how far-reaching are the implications of digital transformation. It’s not just about making our website better or becoming more proficient on social media. Genuine digital transformation looks at fundamental questions of business model, revenue streams, and our relationship to customers.

So, consider these questions and conduct an impartial evaluation of where your organization stands in relation to all these core issues. Don’t try to boil the ocean and undertake massive change all at once. Instead, form a team to look at one part of the business and start there.

Consider, for example, how technology can improve customer relationships across your organization or in one division or even department. Then, examine how you can become more responsive to customer needs and implement a pilot project. As with any change, start small and seek quick wins. As leadership develops the strategy, be sure to gain buy-in from everyone involved.

It’s not always easy but it is necessary, and the results will pay off over time as you become more competitive and customers sing your praises and become brand advocates!

Michael Krigsman

Michael Krigsman
Industry analyst, CXOTALK host

Digital transformation is a team sport

When starting out on the journey of digital transformation, there’s often a worry about determining the best place to start. Certainly, there are some things that are foundational, such as having a master plan for data management and opening up existing systems better so they can be remixed and integrated into new digital experiences.

But the good news is that digital transformation is a team sport, and so everyone must be enabled to help make the changes required to modernize and rethink the business in digital terms. By tapping into change agents within the organization, leaders can unleash a scalable force for transformation that will create change locally, and if coordinated well, that also fits into the overall strategy.

In this way, organizations can insource the objective of finding good starting points, and better meet the challenge of digital change in terms of assembling the necessary breadth and depth of minds, talent, and resources.

Dion Hinchecliffe

Dion Hinchcliffe
VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research Inc.

Move toward data-driven decisions

Businesses need to be able to make live, data-driven decisions through the development of a real-time, modern data and analytics environment. By updating systems and technologies, you can use analytics to better understand your business’s data and share information between teams and departments.

Businesses that want to pursue digital transformation need to get rid of silos that hinder collaboration and effective sharing of data based insights. They must implement digital capabilities within their organization and adapt their infrastructure to effectively accommodate digital transformation. You have to work towards digital maturity, moving from an information foundation to automated, cognitive interaction.

Organizations should start by improving one important customer journey with two to three data sources. Split data collection and application, and start implementing an agile, multi-disciplinary team with the right processes and technologies to create an organizational foundation that supports a digital core. You need a modern infrastructure that’s able to collect data, manage data security, governance, quality, processes, and storage. This gives you the ability to gain insights to look back at historical data, predict in real-time, and define actions live, moving step by step from Descriptive Analytics to Cognitive Analytics.

Ronald Van Loon

Ronald Van Loon
Director, Adversitement

Change Management Disruption Technology

5 Must-read Articles that will Change How You Think of Digital Transformation

Business leaders today face challenges far beyond what their predecessors could have imagined. Industry-wide shifts happen faster than ever, with technology lowering barriers to entry and new competitors being created every day. As such, you need to continuously balance the risks of leading against the risks of following, and falling behind.

But there are some absolutes. Execution remains critically important; human capital, rather than tech, is still the main driver of success.

If you’ve read some of my other posts on the topic, you’ll know I firmly believe that digital change (i.e. self-disruption) is really about organizational change. It’s about leading a group of people to understand the reason for the change, adopt is as their own, and cooperate to make it happen.

Of course, it doesn’t help that “digital transformation” means different things to different people. The terminology itself can be misleading. That said, there are some fascinating perspectives out there, worthy of the attention of anyone seeking to enact change from within their organization. In this post, I’ve compiled a handful of insightful articles on the topic of digital transformation.

Digital Transformation: 5 Essential Elements of Superb Execution

McKinsey performed a statistical analysis on the importance of strong execution during the digital era. If you would like to separate your company from the rest and be among the 50% of businesses that survive digital disruption, this article offers five tips to help you with execution.

10 Barriers to Digital Transformation From an HR Perspective

Today, many companies struggle to keep up with technological innovation. However, in this article, author Barry Lawrence takes a closer look at what surveyed CEOs feel are the top 10 barriers faced by businesses during digital transformation and he believes that HR can help with every one of them.

‘Digital Transformation’ Is a Misnomer

Gerald C Kane has been studying digital transformation and has come to the conclusion that it’s actually not about technology, but about how technology is changing business conditions. This, in turn has changed customer, partner and employee expectations. Fascinating read!

Your Fast Follower Strategy is Riskier Than You Realize

Some businesses believe that when it comes to innovation, the fast follower method is best – but it must be executed correctly. JP Nicols has written a great article which outlines the steps required to achieve success with this approach:

  • having a solid strategy in place,
  • understanding whether innovation comes with exaggerated expectations (hype) or if it has value that will stay with consumers,
  • knowing how much risk company leaders are willing to take, and their methods for establishing next steps.

A CEO’s Guide to Leading Digital Transformation

The role of corporate leaders has become increasingly exaggerated in the wake of digital transformation. In order to succeed, CEOs must be able to keep up with innovation, disruption and rapid change. Authors at the Boston Consulting Group have provided five rules for CEOs to follow in dealing with digital transformation.

Change Management Organizational Design Team

Meet Chris Becker, NetEffect CEO

Chris Becker is an experienced consultant and entrepreneur with a background in international consulting, managing new business startups and driving large impactful corporate change initiatives. As the CEO of NetEffect, his focus is on digital transformation. This includes identifying opportunities for companies to change the way they do business by leveraging the power of web, mobile, and other emerging technologies.

We caught up with Chris to learn how he works with both large corporations through to small technology startups to analyze, discover and apply innovative ways to leverage technology to improve performance, team interaction, quality of outputs and speed of action. Connect with Chris on LinkedIn here.

NetEffect helps large organizations think and act more like startups. What experience has given you the skills and insights to provide these types of services?

Early on, my focus was in organization design and change management. This has proven to be a solid foundation of concepts and tools when looking at how to help an organization be nimble, while still being mindful of how to effect change in organizations with thousands of people, a range of products and services, competing priorities and functions, and complex business processes.

While we talk a lot about technology, most of the challenges arise in the use of that technology to enable business process and to equip people with new ways of working. Anyone can get the technology perfect, and still fail on execution due to lack of attention to large organization dynamics and the changes affecting people. Even a well-conceived strategy can be lost in the minefield of execution.

Organizational priorities, the complexity of work, evaluating and positioning talent, and organization design all need to align with technology innovation and disruption. The result requires a more holistic effort, but the payoff is form and function coming together to create sustainable business value and advantage.

This approach has provided a solid starting point to enable our technology team to build compelling experiences and solutions. NetEffect can be described as a powerful blending of consulting, digital agency and product development capabilities.

Culture quote Peter Drucker NetEffect

Specifically, what kind of companies have you worked with and where do you provide support?

We have a broad team with experience in a range of geographies, industries and organization types. Organization design and change management was an early focus and has now become a part of almost everything we do. Since 1995, this has included the financial services (e.g. VanCity and Coast Capital credit unions in British Columbia, Goldman Sachs, Sun Life Financial), energy (e.g. EnCana), automotive (e.g. Nissan) as well as professional services, NGOs and retail (e.g. Canadian Tire, Hudson’s Bay).

Our focus now is on large scale change in complex organizations with a particular concentration in financial and professional services. Complexity is not just size. It can be driven by geographic coverage, product range, brand equity and innovation and organizational models. Organizational models for example, have expanded greatly over the past 20 years:

  • More collegial and partnering networks for organizations
  • Independent contractors and agents versus traditional captive employees
  • Loose affiliations between complementary companies
  • Joint ventures and strategic alliances
  • Complex vendor/sub-contractor relationships and more.

At NetEffect, we are utilizing these new working models to adapt and learn, and equip us with more versatile ways to work so we can bring these types of models to our clients. This can greatly increase client focus on core capabilities while building in expertise and speed through these other models. Greater flexibility to engage external expertise and capabilities help bring fresh perspectives to large organizations that often rely on their own internal functions and teams which can often result in them losing sight of the dynamics in the marketplace. The emergence of ‘Software as a Service’ is an example of alternative models for leveraging best in breed applications and technology. Change must be a continuous improvement process of self-examination and growth that can often be painful.

Recognizing how interconnected strategy is with execution helps ensure the real business need is always kept front and center when working on the necessarily deep technology efforts. Too often, technology is left with abdicated authority to make a change which inevitably leads to lost value and failed efforts. With the rise of nimbler, technology-enabled competitors, large organizations do not have time to repeat mistakes and restart efforts over and over.

Change quote Jack Welch NetEffect

We’ve had the chance to work with clients from the point where the strategy is defined but requires articulation to drive it down to meaningful words, phrases and themes that are going to matter to the people on the ground. These often expand to projects or programs that are designed to rally people within the organization to a common cause and move quickly. Having a clear starting point at this stage can make all the difference when moving to designing, building and implementing a solution – be it a new product, new ways to interact with the market, or innovative ways of working.

When you then combine strong technical and operational capabilities, including partnerships with best-in-breed software, you have a powerful combination to provide strategic execution capabilities to large organizations struggling to keep pace with new, smaller competitors that have a greater impact on industries over time.

What prompted your transition from a consultant to an entrepreneur?

Sooner or later you have to practice what you preach and eat your own dog food! Consulting from an early age was a great chance to see a wide range of organizations in action. Eventually my words sounded hollow without the sense of ownership and weight of responsibility that comes with accountability for outcomes.

So, around the mid- 2000s, I worked with a small team on a social media startup. As CEO, I led a team building a ‘User Generated Content’ Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform. We worked with media companies, large brands, and agencies to leverage, monetize and engage consumers in user-generated content. We successfully sold that business in 2015.

What followed was a powerful and somewhat unique perspective, combining complex organization consulting with the scrappy world of bootstrap startups. This is the spirit around which we’ve built NetEffect.

So the transition was gradual and I’d say it’s now a less of a transition and more a combination.

Consulting is embarking on a discovery process of getting to know and understand a business’s issues, and coming up with ways to solve those issues in new and innovative ways. From that perspective, consulting provides a wealth of ideas to help entrepreneurs figure out ‘what problem they are solving’. So in many ways, consulting and entrepreneurship are tightly interwoven.