Psychological safety at work – a driver of innovation

Joy

By Brett Roberts, Associate Director, Digital, Customers & Collaboration

How’s the culture in your company? Does it enable you to thrive? Or are you simply surviving? Worse yet, is it toxic?

While the world of work is changing rapidly, people still sit at the very heart of it. How do we get the best out of these people? And how do we ensure they get the best out of their roles?

A critical factor in this discussion is the concept of psychological safety in the workplace. If you as a leader can create an environment in which even the newest hire feels safe to voice their thoughts and opinions, then you are far more likely to get the best ideas out of your staff. This is incredibly important given that one of the underpinning requirements of an innovation culture is ideas and creativity.

Linda Hill, a Professor at Harvard Business School, is an expert on managing for collective creativity, and firmly believes that getting the best out of people requires a safe environment. She also comments that innovation is not about solo genius, rather it’s about collective genius and it’s collaborative and messy. Pixar took a very collaborative approach to the development of their first full length CG (computer graphics) movie, Ratatouille. It took nearly 20 years from inception to release, but CG films have really taken off since then!

Innovation requires imagination, but imagination can be stifled in a negative workplace. People can’t innovate in an environment where they feel fear (of embarrassment, of ridicule, of not being heard), so it’s crucial that business leaders foster an environment where people feel entirely safe to speak up. New junior staff members are sitting at the bottom of the pile, but giving them a platform to speak their mind in safety will help grow them – and quickly.

Professor Hill’s research concluded that leaders needed to stop giving answers, or providing solutions. They needed to look to people at the bottom of the pyramid, the young sparks, those that were closest to the customers as an often untapped source of innovation. Organisations need to invert the pyramid, transfer growth to lower levels, and unleash the power of many by loosening the stranglehold of the few.

For the full Linda Hill TED Talk, see here 

Workplaces need to create an environment where there is a marketplace of brainstormed and debated ideas, and where it’s ok to have strong – yet constructive – views. Asking good questions, actively listening and advocating for their point of view are also critical skills for leaders and others to foster.

Psychological safety and teams

Google’s Project Aristotle showed that psychological safety is the number one determinant of highly effective teams. A culture of psychological safety enables everyone in the group to contribute regardless of hierarchy, role, or expectations. In this instance, we can draw upon the total collective intelligence of the group.

Author Dr Amy Silver commented that “If we don’t have psychological safety, we use fear to mediate our contributions to a team. We are not able to contribute whatever’s in our heads as we limit ourselves through the fear of judgment, the fear of being ridiculed, the fear of being discounted, or the fear of going against expectations. Without psychological safety, we don’t have collective intelligence. We have fear-based intelligence.”

Creating psychological safety through hackathons

Datacom has been using hackathons for the last seven years as a way to create environments where people from different backgrounds and experiences feel safe to ideate, experiment and create.

There are many ways in which we create a sense of safety during a hackathon, such as rituals around welcoming which leads to greater levels of understanding amongst team members, many of whom may never have met before. There is a strong need to take the time to meet, greet and understand each other as this fosters a sense of safety and empathy which ultimately leads to better outcomes. Having seen it many times, we also understand the need to support those people who feel strongly about a topic or issue. Having support around them is what makes their dream reality.

We’re seeing real examples of how psychological safety impacts on how people participate in hackathons. Just this year we had a number of tertiary students join our main internal hackathon. They felt so safe that two of them got up and pitched an idea to an audience of hundreds only a short time after arriving. In a regional hackathon we were involved in earlier in the year, one of the businesses brought along several of their own staff but instructed them to go into separate teams.

Datacom might not be experts in the science of psychological safety – we’ll leave that to Professor Hill and Doctor Silver – but we are huge believers in its importance and ability to fundamentally influence organisational culture and innovation not to mention improving employee engagement and retention.

Today, every company is thinking about and investing in workplace safety measures. The benefits are obvious and the downsides of not doing so are clear. We believe the same applies to the concept of psychological safety and would encourage your organisation to do the same if you’re not doing so already. The benefits are too clear to ignore.

Aotearoa New Zealand’s Skills Revolution: Investing To Grow Tomorrow’s Prosperous, Future-fit & Capable Kiwis

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By Kerry Topp, Associate Director, Transformation and Innovation

We can’t slow down the rate of technological change, change is rapid and all around us. The skills cycle, the rate at which skills are needed, is rapidly increasing both globally and in New Zealand. 

 We are at the crucible moment where leaders in Aotearoa New Zealand need to be proactive and responsible in the “right-skilling” or retraining of their workforce. For right-skilling, organisations need to have a strategic plan for talent to make the shift. Any good talent strategy should focus on retaining and training existing talent, as well as acquiring new workers.

“It’s becoming more important to prepare than adapt. By the time you realize the need to adapt, it may already be too late.”Greg Satell | Author | Speaker | Innovation Adviser

In this context, what can we do as leaders to ensure our organisations, society and above all, our people, are future-fit and ready, now? In this post we will look at why we believe it is crucial for corporate leaders to increase their investment in employees’ skills today so New Zealand Aotearoa is able to increase the prosperity, wellbeing and capability of our people, organisations and country, tomorrow.

The Skills Revolution Is Here!

Recently Manpower, a global leader in contingent and permanent recruitment workforce solutions, asked 18,000 employers in 43 countries across six industry sectors how they expect technology will impact their business in the next two years, and how they are ensuring their workforce has the right skills and is ready to adapt – specifically, they looked at:

  • The likely impact of automation on headcount in the next two years,
  • Which functions will be most affected,
  • The strategies they are adopting to ensure they have the skills they need for technological advances.

“We are seeing the emergence of a Skills Revolution — where helping people upskill and adapt to a fast-changing world of work will be the defining challenge of our time.“ – Jonas Prising | Chairman & CEO | ManpowerGroup

What Manpower found was that more than 90 percent of employers expect their organization to be impacted by digitisation in the next two years. In addition, on average, by 2020, more than a third of the desired core skillsets of most occupations will be comprised of skills that are not yet considered crucial to the job today.

The World Economic Forum identified that skills cycles are shorter than ever before and some 65 percent of the jobs Gen Z will perform do not even exist yet. They also found that up to 45 percent of the tasks people are paid to do each day could be automated with current technology. We have of course adapted to the evolution of the labour market before — from tellers to customer service representatives, typists to word processors and personal assistants — disrupting, destroying, redistributing and recreating work is nothing new. The difference now is the life cycle of skills is shorter than ever and change is happening at an unprecedented scale.

“On average, by 2020, more than a third of the desired core skill sets of most occupations will be comprised of skills that are not yet considered crucial to the job today.” – World Economic Forum

The Conclusion Is Widespread

It is not just Manpower or The World Economic Forum that are drawing similar conclusions. The evidence of a skills revolution is also coming through loudly from the likes of the Big Four and research organisations, like McKinsey & Co, Gartner, PWC as well:

  • 51 percent of all activities can soon be done without humans, impacting and changing 60 percent of current jobs [McKinsey, Future of Work 2017].
  • The future of the workforce will be dominated by those born between 1980-mid 90s. And what they want from work is different. A strong sense of alignment on values and purpose, over profit, is the main goal. According to PWC’s Managing tomorrow’s people: The future of work to 2020 report, 88 percent are looking for alignment on corporate social responsibility, with their personal values.
  • According to PWCs Workforce of the Future study, 74 percent of global employees are now actively up-skilling themselves to take advantage of the new economy.
  • A study by Mavenlink found that given the opportunity, 65% of workers would pursue contract work. Whilst it’s not a new addition to hiring trends, it’s still worth calling out that flexibility is key, with the option to work remotely influencing the likelihood of accepting a position for 68% of new workforce entrants. There are many more ways to ‘work’ emerging and becoming main-stream. Which opens up new and creative ways for organisations to run their HR budgets, and individuals to design a career with more flexibility.

Those With The Right Skills Will Thrive

Based on this research, it is clear, those with the right skills will increasingly be in the driving seat, create new opportunities and have the choice and flexibility to work where, how, and when they like. Those lacking the right skills will increasingly be left behind and the outlook for the future for them is not rosy. There is a continued polarisation of the population that is playing out right in front of all our eyes and it will, if not rapidly addressed, be costly for society and business.

How Do We Ensure NZInc Has The Right Skills To Thrive?

At Datacom, we believe that now is the time for company leaders to be responsive and responsible! We cannot slow the rate of technological advance or globalisation, but we can invest in employees’ skills to increase the resilience of our people, organisations but also society. I contend that we are seeing the emergence of what World Economic Forum calls, the Skills Revolution.

Yes, individuals absolutely need to nurture their ‘learnability’: their desire and ability to learn new skills to stay relevant and remain employable; but leaders in New Zealand need to take immediate action to fast track the upskilling and reskilling of existing employees to ensure New Zealand Aotearoa has access to a workforce with the skills required for the future.

So, let’s have a look at what we are doing to support the resilience of our people.

In a recent McKinsey survey, 75 percent of executives said they believed reskilling would fill at least half of their future talent needs, given the war for talent and hiring difficulties. The survey highlighted that people working in IT and customer-facing roles are likely to see the greatest increases in demand, but they also anticipated rapid growth in demand across almost all industries and geographies for data analysts required to make sense of big data, and for specialised sales, product and commercial managers to commercialise new digitised offerings.

At Datacom we firmly believe that from learning comes creativity and from creativity comes innovation. One of the activations we have in this space is Datacomp, our annual innovation hackathon, which has been running since 2012 and is designed to keep our people sharp and give them an opportunity to trial and test new skills and experiences in a safe environment.

Watch Datacomp 2018 video

One of the benefits of Datacomp is that every year each person in our business gets the chance to take part in a significant learning and development opportunity. Our goal in providing the program – called Datacomp StayingSharp – is simple, to add to our peoples’ C.V.s! Not because we want them to go, but rather, because we want them to stay.

Over the last seven years that Datacomp has been running we have seen over 1,000 people trained in lean canvasing, design thinking, presenting and pitching, plus get ongoing exposure to the latest technology and insights.

Having The Opportunity And Feeling Safe Are Important

Our view is that giving our people the opportunity to keep up-to-date with the latest trends, ways of working and tech is positive and inspiring for all – most importantly, our people and customers. We aim to give our people a safe environment to experiment and try new things, things that they don’t necessarily have the opportunity to do in their day job.

Datacomp 2018 winners

Winning team from Datacomp 2018

We don’t do this lightly. We are actively and deliberately seeking to lead our own people and also other organisations to keep up with the ever-demanding skills cycle.

“Remember, you’re not in charge. You are responsible for those in your charge.” – Simon Sinek | Founder | Visionary | Author | Speaker

As Simon Sinek, internationally acclaimed speaker and author, said leaders are not responsible for the job. Leaders are responsible for the people, who are responsible for the job.

Watch Simon Sinek speak.

If we accept that the pace of technological change has accelerated us to a crucible moment where leaders in Aotearoa New Zealand need to invest in employees’ skills today to increase the prosperity, wellbeing & capability of our people, organisation & country, tomorrow, then as a leader, I encourage you to ask yourself: what are you doing to deliver a brighter future for your people?

Further references

 

Building smart cities with Churchill

 

Barcelona

 VP of the Australian Smart Cities Association, Brook Dixon travelled the world as a Churchill Fellow last year, studying the drivers of digital transformation in leading global cities. In this extract of his report, which he has curated and prepared for Datacom, he looks at the principles, which need to be applied to be considered a smart city:

The digital revolution is ablaze in cities around the world.  The fires of big data, open government, smart city, digital innovation, cities 4.0, and the internet of things, burn bright.

But what is the object?  How can cities most effectively engage with digital?  And what lessons from international experience are there for Australasian cities?

These questions I explored last year as a Sir Winston Churchill Fellow, visiting eleven leading smart cities – Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Seoul, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Stockholm, New York, Raleigh, Lima, San Francisco and San Jose.

This study trip was a remarkable journey of digital city exploration and discovery.  From the evolution of civic democracy in Seoul, to partnerships in New York transforming 7,500 old pay phones into new digital hubs (unlocking billions of dollars in new value), to portable digital labs made from shipping containers for schools in Lima.

However, the key lessons relate less to such wonderful digital projects, which are specific to each city, but to the principles of purpose, planning and process, which can be applied in any city.

Principles such as – be a digital democracy.  Easy to say.  Much harder to do.  But in Seoul, they are making real progress with initiatives such as mVoting.  This digital platform (smart-phone app and website) allows rapid polling of citizen opinion through votes on policy and municipal matters.  Polls can be targeted by various demographic factors and citizens can set preferences for areas of voting interest.  mVoting has been used for hundreds of polls with direct influence on city policy, and enshrines Seoul’s philosophy of participatory democracy and ‘the citizen as Mayor’.

A second principle, and oh so important!  Get a smart city plan!  The digital cosmos is vast, its philosophy and technology concerns every part of the city – people, processes, services, administration, economy, and places.  It covers infrastructure, networks, data collection and analysis.  It can be applied to health, education, municipal services, utilities, justice, transport, the environment, and more.

Facing such breadth of scope, and depth of opportunity, without the focus and direction of a digital plan, digital actions will easily be fragmented. To plan is to examine the particular circumstances of each city, and to concentrate attention where digital transformation can make the most difference.

Beyond planning is dynamic reality, and the principle of innovation – being open to change, redesign, new ideas, doing things differently, and connecting things in fresh ways.  So to be a digital city is to embrace innovation, and to be innovative embraces digital.  This symbiosis is well understood by leading smart cities.  And their efforts to encourage, promote and support innovation are a pillar of smart city plans the world over.

Barcelona has a beautifully expressed innovation goal of “creating a dialogue and experimentation agora” where anyone can progress smart city innovation and research.

This goal is epitomised by the Barcelona Urban Lab, which facilitates use of public space to trial innovative products and technology to support commercialisation and improve municipal services for the community.  Pilot projects to date have included traffic lights adapted for the blind, remote utility meter readings, and smart street lights fitted with presence, vibration, temperature, humidity, sound and pollution sensors, GSM aerials, Wi-Fi Mesh access point and webcam for video surveillance functions.

Another principle, oh so important, but too dry for much attention here, is establishing strong leadership and governance.  Leading cities universally attested the value of this principle; and where it lacked, it was lamented, and where it was sound, it was lauded.

Now a final principle for those with smart city aspirations, and much more exciting than governance: to leverage new business models.  Think beyond the old paradigm of government spending and taxation, to new models of asset regeneration and shared value.

In San Jose for example, the Council recently partnered with Philips Corporation to upgrade 800 street-lights to modern LED luminaires, with big energy, financial and CO2 savings, and zero cost to Council.  How?  Because Philips installed micro cell equipment on 50 poles, and sold this data capability to the telcos.  And so we see improvements to lighting amenity, public assets, energy efficiency, commercial opportunity, mobile connectivity, and budget sustainability.  New value, created, captured and shared by leveraging a new business model and partnership.

Now that is a smart city!

Photo / View over the Passeig de Gràcia Avenue, Barcelona By Ralf Roletschek – Own work, GFDL 1.2, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44339377

Closing the customer experience (CX) gap

 

Passengers motion

Photo / GraphicStock

By Caroline White

People worldwide are finally waking up to the importance of customer-centricity. Forrester estimates that 84 per cent of organisations aspire to be CX leaders and Gartner says that for the third consecutive year marketing budgets are on the increase in a bid to improve it

Mercedes-Benz USA President and CEO Steve Cannon described CX back in 2015 as ‘the new marketing’ and every year Gartner report that it is increasingly on people’s agendas.

Hundreds of CX events are popping up worldwide and they are attracting all of the C-Suite – not just the marketing teams.

Unfortunately there is a gap between customer expectations and what they are actually experiencing. Famous research by Bain and Company in 2005 highlighted the staggering difference – 80 per cent of companies believed they were delivering  a ‘superior experience’ whereas only 8 per cent of customers agreed with them. This gap has closed slightly but there is still a long way to go, particularly as nowadays customers expect to be able to interact with a brand via multiple channels.

But why does CX matter?

Forrester defines customer experience as ‘how customers perceive their interactions with your company’. Tony Hillson, chair at Auckland’s recent  Customer 3.1 Summit said the industry has changed a lot over the past few years due to a shift from focussing on traditional service design and delivery towards what was described by keynote speaker, futurist Anders Sorman-Nilsson as a ‘transformation economy’’.

This transformation economy has been born out of a steep rise in the number of digital disruptors, e.g. Uber, AirBnB and shopping apps such as Wish. Digitalisation is making the world smaller –  another example is US retailer Amazon who is expanding across Australia and rumoured to hit New Zealand soon too.

These disruptors raise the bar for more traditional organisations who will need to enhance their CX to keep up – and that’s not just B2C but B2B too.

By implementing CX principles into strategy, technology, processes and people management, it is possible to keep up with disruptors, reduce costs and increase revenue. Forrester estimates that companies who excel at CX grow a staggering 5.1 times quicker than those who don’t.

And how do we improve it?

Here are ten top tips to taking your customers on a journey across mulitple channels:

  1. Plot the customer journey and work out where the most value can be added. Forrester says customers are willing to pay 4.5 times more for excellent CX. Look for ways to give them an memorable experience which makes them feel special. This doesn’t necessary mean the experience is bespoke but rather personalised on a large scale, e.g. Google remembers details such as where you visit frequently so it can provide you with updates and information relevant to you.
  2. Hone both the left and right brains. Left is the logical analytical side and right is the creative side. Both are needed to solve problems and communicate with everyone, e.g. when Benji Karsch first started working at US healthcare company, Cigna, there were no metrics relating to any CX initiatives. This meant they had no idea what was successful and what wasn’t – so the board didn’t value them. As a result he worked on a left-brained solution to impress the board and ensure buy in to future initiatives.
  3. Don’t spread yourself too thin, focus on one main metric, e.g. the net promoter or customer satisfaction score and link it to financial metric, e.g.  10% increased revenue if it is achieved.
  4. Work on two levels of buy-in. Start at the top with metric-based business cases for the decision makers, e.g. we will lose $5m if x happens. Have case studies from previous projects worked on and use storytelling to evoke emotion. Sign up at least one senior person to help drive CX initiatives and make sure their buy in is visible.
  5. Accenture report that 89 per cent of customers want a consistent CX across all channels, a seamless omnichannel. As soon as there is senior level buy-in, push to make CX and digital experience part of the same strategy. Hamish Nuttall, founder of the Naked Bus said ‘digital is just how we do business nowadays.
  6. Now it is time to get everyone else involved. People are more engaged when they come to the project early. Forrester say that companies with engaged employees have operating margins 4.1 times larger than those whose employees aren’t. Also CX initiatives should come from all departments, particularly from frontline employees who are interacting with customers on a daily basis. Encourage an experimental and adaptive culture. Benji Karsch, started a successful internal marketing campaign for employees at US healthcare firm, Cigna, called ‘Go You’. It challenged employees to go above and beyond with customers. To help foster this, they were allowed to choose specially branded t-shirts and decorate their name tag to express their individuality.
  7. Benchmark regularly so progress is visible and get feedback at different points of the customer journey so gaps can be found.  There are lot of mechanisms for feedback including pulse surveys, forums and social media. Jason Delamore, Marketing GM at Auckland Airport said an impressive 400,000 people have given feedback via a tablet in the airport in the last year.
  8. Boost customer trust so you can collaborate and innovate together. Rod Moynihan, Director of Sales at Zendesk says customers value empowerment, transparency and responsiveness above anything else so look at developing these traits. Once trust is formed, test the water with some small CX changes, e.g. a stripped-back, low cost prototype on a small section of people so there is little impact if it goes wrong and then expand from there.

    CXGroupPic

    Panel discussion: Lto R: Benjamin Karsch, EVP & Chief Marketing Officer, Revlon David Hughes, ‎General Manager e-Commerce and Customer Insights, Briscoe Group Moderator: Kat Hardisty, Design Lead, Optimal Workshop Roxanne Salton, Head of Digital Strategy and Delivery, Mercury. Photo / Scott Clegg/ Conferenz

  9. Balance innovation, analytics and common sense. Although it is important to listen to customers, don’t just implement their suggestions blindly. Get to the root of whatever the pain-point is and work out the most efficient way of solving it. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your solution has to use new technology such as blockchain, artificial intelligence or machine learning – technology is just a means to an end.
    In some cases it can work really well, e.g. When Lowes Innovation Labs showed people how to do DIY with a Hololens it resulted in 36 per cent better recall than when they watched an instructional video, but often you can be better off sticking to more tried and tested technology. That said, consider the analytics opportunities that are available with Internet of Things devices – just be sure that are completely secure and enhance CX too.
  10. And finally never underestimate the importance of getting insights firsthand from the customer – it is much easier to empathise with them this way. David Hughes, ‎General Manager e-Commerce and Customer Insights at Briscoe Group has access to the customer feedback inbox from his email account. Natalie Kerschner, Senior UX Specialist at BNZ made whole teams of people go into branches posing as real business customers and Roxanne Salter, Head of Digital Strategy at Mercury had once worked where senior people had to do a monthly shift on the shopfloor. It was important, said Roxanne,  not to be afraid of asking stupid questions – since this is how issues were picked up on.

The Datacom Digital Experience team works with organisations to discover which CX strategies are best for them. We have a wide range of tricks in our toolbox from alignment workshops to journey mapping to concept testing.

Interested in knowing more? Email digital@datacom.co.nz.

 

To smartcities and beyond – 10 steps to get your public sector organisation ready for Digital Transformation (DX)

Digital Transformation Banner

By Caroline White

Technology is moving fast in today’s world. Every organisation is expected to know about – if not use – things such as the Internet of Things, blockchain, and artificial intelligence. Every city or town is now expected to aspire to be a smart city.

As newer types of technology emerge, this pace will only start to quicken. Brett Roberts, Associate Director of Datacom Auckland’s Digital, Customers & Collaboration Group likes to use Heraclitus’s quote – ‘‘the only constant is change’ so keep up or get left behind!

Digital Transformation (DX) is not just a catchphrase – technology is being employed successfully by the public sector worldwide to address important safety and security concerns and improve processes.

Body-worn cameras can protect parking officers when out in the field, sensors can be used to highlight buildups at traffic black spots and drones can be used to check tall buildings when people apply for building consents.

Compared with other countries, New Zealand has been slow on the DX uptake. PwC New Zealand say that just 50 per cent of Kiwi organisations are integrating digital and corporate strategies compared to 70 per cent  worldwide. Steffan Schaefer lists the areas where great improvements can be made: air and water quality control, environmental monitoring, energy saving, renewable energy solutions, and the prediction and prevention of natural and man-made disasters. Gartner also says councils could become a hub for technological innovation as they have access to swathes of data which could be valuable – if collected and analysed properly.

You know your organisation needs to start digitally transforming.  But what about the other people in your organisation? How do you convince the decision-makers? Here are ten tips for implementing change in  a public sector organisation.

1. Evaluate the pros and cons of digitising processes
The most common blocks for digital transformation are lack of budget, a lack of time or resource, reliance on legacy systems, a lack of technological skills and “siloed” data. However these problems will only get worse if action isn’t taken to move into the digital space.

Product Manager, Anthony Sidwell recently presented Antenno, Datacom’s new mobile app at PCA Smart Cities Conference 2017. One of the key messages of the conference was that DX isn’t just about implementing technology – it’s a way for councils to improve people’s lives as well as reduce costs and increase efficiency.

It’s an iterative process – so start small and work up. Look at where current issues are and where customer feedback can be improved. Then work out where technology can be used to solve them, e.g. does your team face a battle when dog licensing comes around as it is still done on paper rather than online?

In most cases, the pros far outweigh the cons and the sooner implemented, the sooner improvements can be made.

2. Actively look for and find solutions to any roadblocks
Once you know where the areas for DX are, look for any roadblocks – these could be change resistant or non-tech savvy members in the top team – or holes in your own rough ideas that you hadn’t thought of. Find the five most problem-focussed people you work with and ask them to pick holes in your rough plans – according to research just five people will pick up 85% of issues with a product, service or idea. Find solutions to those issues raised.

3. Impress with stats and bust myths
So now you’re armed with a reviewed rough plan, it is time to wow decision makers with some great ideas. It is important to work out how to sell it to them – find out what problem they would most like to solve, e.g. are they sick of all the complaints that the customer services teams are getting? Then find their preferred communication style so you can frame your ideas in a way that works for them. Prepare a ‘mythbusters’ pack of stats and common questions, e.g. why moving to cloud is safer and better than on premise systems?

4 . Set up a change management team
Once you have support from the decision makers, it is time to set up a change team of like-minded people to help you on the road to success. Each area of the organisation should be represented by a ‘change champion’ – someone to voice concerns for their area, make sure their requirements are covered and generally aid the change process. These people should be fully committed to the idea of change and ready to cajole those more risk-averse members of their team that change is necessary.

5. Foster an innovative culture
In his keynote at the DX2017 summit in March, Brett Roberts stressed the interlinkages between innovation and DX, advising companies to drive an innovative and adaptive digital culture at all times – it’s not just for the top team. Now is the time to reach out to the whole organisation, not just your change management team and let them know that DX is afoot. Encourage all generations and levels to get involved – particularly digital natives. You may find extra skills, expertise and ideas to add to the mix, along with new ways to problem solve.

6. Investigate different options and budgets
As a team, look into the problems you are trying to solve. Refine the requirements identified in step one, add some rough metrics and prioritise.  Once the list is complete, seek outside advice from a reputable DX expert who will be able to discuss the different options and give advice on the best possible digital strategy to fit your needs.

Don’t be afraid of speaking to people who don’t fit the normal council mould – it’s important to know what other councils are doing and where money could be saved via collaboration but it is also important to think outside of the box.

There is no reason why the public sector can’t do this too.  Antenno was born out of a need to solve communication issues between local government and their communities. Councils needed new ways of reaching people. At the same time, their customers were complaining of information overload and wanted to only have access to relevant information.

7.Write a plan with metrics
Once all options have been evaluated, it is time to write the DX plan. Datacom’s Head of Digital Experience, Fiona Monks, recommends that this should be a guiding vision or a ‘north star’ for the next three to five years with only the first six months described in detail. Every six months the team can get together and assess whether the organisation is on the right track.

Don’t forget to…

  • Include the metrics stating where you are now, where you want to be and how frequently you are going to measure them.
  • Consider all stakeholders and situations. Make sure all workflows have been reviewed and mapped – there is little point transferring archaic paper process to digital.
  • Include a disaster recovery plan – it shouldn’t be needed but as calculated risks are needed with DX it is best always to be prepared
  • Invite as many people to review it as possible before finalisation.

8. Get communication right
Communication is often cited as a reason for failure from DX projects. Plan meticulously and far in advance, working out what the best mediums for reaching different stakeholders are. Go interactive via social media aiming to build enthusiasm, excitement and confidence. Make sure there are clear avenues for feedback so worries can be quickly addressed before they fester.

9Look out for people resistant to change
However much communication is done beforehand, there will always be some people who are resistant to DX – particularly frontline employees who have not been involved with the decision- making process. Anticipate who these people are and make sure they feel safe and comfortable. Plan onboarding sessions for new technology and listen to them.

10. Have fun
A recent study by Gallup found that just 29 per cent of government workers are engaged in their job. Use DX as a time to turn over a new leaf and boost engagement levels. Share metrics and celebrate successes as a team. Have change champions at each site to drive changes forward and consider some sort of gamification, e.g. prizes for teams who adopt the new ways of working quickest. Points system with league tables and weekly updates can foster some healthy competition.

Ready to transform your organisation? If you need some inspiration, email us at digital@datacom.co.nz or find out more about our local government products including some impressive case studies here.

Datacom kicks off Microsoft’s Global Integration Bootcamp

By Tim Nelson

It started in Auckland on Saturday, then followed the sunrise across the globe.

Dawn on Saturday 25th saw Datacom stop the countdown clock on the Microsoft Global Integration Bootcamp website.

Starting at 210 Federal Street in Auckland and following the sunrise across 12 locations across around the world, the Global Bootcamp brought the Microsoft integration community together for an intensive day of interactive labs using the latest Azure technology.

With a dual opportunity to lead and learn alongside co-hosts Adaptiv and Theta the team added hospitality and plenty of coffee to create a warm collaborative atmosphere for everyone in attendance.
MicrosoftBootCamp.Presenter

Photo / Datacom’s Craig Haiden presenting at the weekend’s Microsoft Global Integration Bootcamp.

Independent consultants and integrators from both vendors and corporates turned the café into a hub of concentrated activity, augmented by a constant flow of online appreciation from around the globe as successive centres kicked off their day.

Plenty of knowledge was shared and new skills were learned. Hands-on labs covered the full Azure integration stack: enabling hybrid integration scenarios to surface data to the cloud; setting up Service Bus and Logic Apps to orchestrate data flows; configuring API Apps and API Management to present and secure data access; and working with IoT Hub, Stream Analytics and Power BI to provide both deep insight and responsive control of data and devices in real-time.

A big thank you to the dedicated team of organisers and presenters who made it happen: Craig Haiden, Mark Brimble, Mahindra Morar, Mike Howell, James Corbould, Morten Velling and Abhishek Kumar. Literally world-leading…

Check out more about the Global Integration Bootcamp here.

Digital Transformation 101: Insights from DX 2017

By Caroline White

Business leaders from across New Zealand came together to discuss their challenges at the Digital Transformation summit  in Auckland this month. The key themes were:

  • Understanding innovation and transformation and how they work together
  • Unlocking value by leveraging technology and new business platforms
  • Understanding changing audiences for customer-centric digital transformation
  • Recruiting and retaining the right talent and unlocking real competitive advantages

The Datacom sponsored event saw Brett Roberts, Associate Director of Datacom Auckland’s Digital, Customers & Collaboration Group, take to the stage for his keynote advising companies on how to drive an innovative and adaptive digital culture. Digital Transformation means companies need to act fast to ensure they aren’t left behind.

BrettRobertsDX2017CloggCloseupBrett Roberts speaking at DX2017. Photo / Scott Clogg: Conferenz

What is Digital Transformation?

Digital Transformation is the latest hot phrase to be bandied round in offices across the world – but it is also a commonly misunderstood term. Basically, it’s the act of transforming businesses digitally from end to end – from operations to infrastructure, meshing together technology, processes and people.

DX2017 featured 24 speakers in total, each offering advice that can be loosely packaged into five C’s: competitive pressure, the confluence of ideas, customers, culture and continuous learning, and finally the biggest C: communication.

Competitive pressure

Firstly, why do businesses have to digitally transform? Technology and innovation is moving at a faster pace than ever before. We live in an uncertain world – A study from the John M. Olin School of Business at Washington University estimates that 40 percent of today’s F500 companies on the S&P 500 will no longer exist in 10 years.

Foxtel’s Brett Cooper said digital disruptors are everywhere – the most well- known one for his company being being Netflix.

Competition has come from leaders who have shunned traditional business models and dared to do things differently – Uber, Amazon and Airbnb are just three examples.

Nicki Raistrick, Head of Digital at Fletcher Building looked at the same issue, raising concerns about traditional businesses making assumptions they shouldn’t. You may know the names of your customers and their likes and dislikes, but what do they really know about their customer’s customers – is there a new disruptor just around the corner?

Andre Guyer, Head of Digital Transformation for the Zurich Insurance, believes companies need to use money and experience as leverage against new entrants to their industry – to attack, rather than defend their market share.

New Zealand companies need to look at their products and services and work out where they are adding value to their customers – which enable them to innovate and provide a better service, and thus larger margin than foreign counterparts.

DX2017AudienceThe challenge of digital transformation – Brett Roberts speaks at DX2017. Photo / Scott Clogg: Conferenz

Confluence

At the heart of Digital Transformation is a triad, a confluence of people, business and process. It’s not possible to change one without considering impact on the other.

  • People – Robotics will feature heavily in the future, but nothing can substitute for the human brain. Algorithms are not the solution to all our problems.

Digital leaders still have a tough job in shaping the workforce of the future.  Traditional roles such as system administrators, operators, programmers, and help desk employees will decrease in demand and these people will need to be retrained and moved elsewhere.

New people for jobs which haven’t even been dreamt up yet will need to be sourced and an organisation is only as good as the people who work for them.

Quote of the day: “Never ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, EVER compromise your hiring.” Hire diverse people with good attitudes who are ready to slot into an innovative environment. And don’t be afraid to hire people who don’t fit the mould – the best innovations don’t tend to come from when people stick to the mould.

  • Business – Transforming to digital can often unearth all sorts of issues that weren’t apparent beforehand. Go back to basics, make sure the company vision is clear, and map out all your processes to how they would work in the real world.
  • Technology – Big data, blockchain, and artificial intelligence were all discussed prominently – and will need to be a part of any future plans.

Lots of companies are using all of these technologies already. Google Maps combines AI, robotics and big data. Starbucks and Amazon are teaming up for an AI, chat and voice app.

Trevor Delany, Head of Information Technology & Services for BP New Zealand said that customers had even arrived at its petrol stations asking to pay with bitcoins. It’s impossible to commit to all of the good ideas out there, but the smart people are those who see how this could fit into existing business models in the future.

Customers

Customers should be first priority for every organisation; but for many busy organisations, they are often the last. Every speaker at DX 2017 called for companies to be more customer- led rather than focusing strictly on products. Customer centricity was frequently discussed, especially innovation labs and collaborative programmes.

Culture and continuous learning

The one fundamental kickstarter is having an innovative culture. Allow everyone in the company to get involved and have their voice heard.

If staff feel are empowered in an innovative culture, they will rally and try to solve issues themselves. They certainly won’t sit by and let disruptors take over. Encourage staff at all levels to be curious and ask questions. You need to accept that you’re not always going to get it right – as Brett Roberts puts it ‘experimentation’, rather than ‘embracing failure’.

Don’t get complacent – embrace constant learning. For example, millennials often have a different way of looking problems compared to other generations. Don’t disparage that, encourage it. Datacomp, Datacom’s yearly hackathon has been so successful that it has become a blueprint for hackathons at other companies, such as Genesys and ASB.

And finally, the big C, communication

The overwhelming message from DX 2017 is to start focussing on people. A major part of that is communication.

Digital transformation is terrifying. Frontline employees can feel hopeless and removed from the decision making process. They’re often wondering: What is going on? Is my job safe? I’ve been here for 20 years – what are all these crazy decisions that the company is now making?

There will always be resistance to DX, said Gerard Smith, Senior Digital Manager for Teachers Mutual Bank.

You need buy in; to get your employees to embrace the model you’re trying to adopt. You need to educate and reassure them, and offer the appropriate training to enable them for the new model.

There is a human being behind every change the business makes, and they need to be engaged – help them celebrate successes, actively promoting your digital projects and highlighting the importance of the change.

My three takeaways:

  1. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – Start with small changes and then work up. Review your legacy systems and grade the changes needed into levels of urgency and importance before implementation. If there is kick back from the top team, ask them what else they’ll spend their money on if it isn’t DX.
  1. DX is the whole package, not just the tech – people and business processes are just as important
  1. Uncertainty is a certainty –  Organisations need to be agile, nimble and ready to experiment or else they will die

What do you think? If you’re looking for some ideas on transforming digitally please email us at digital@datacom.co.nz.

Main photo/ Brett Roberts speaks at DX2017.  Photo: Scott Clogg: Conferenz

How to run an amazing hackathon (part two)

Robbie Presenting

By Kerry Topp

In part one of this story, we looked at the big picture – what you need to think about ahead of time, and who you need to consult. In part two, we’ll look into the nitty gritty logistical detail.

Define the key milestones
The key milestones in a hackathon are:

  • Finalise the theme
  • Set date
  • Launch event/registrations open
  • Registrations close
  • Training
  • Finalise numbers for catering
  • Run the event
  • Post-event round up

Build the plan and execute on it
From there, think about logistics and build your plan. For brevity I have assumed that you are running your own internal hackathon, not an external event where you might charge for attendance.

Start planning 8-10 weeks out. Be careful to look out for scheduling conflicts with other major events or potentially look to leverage these events if you think this makes sense. One year, the Datacomp organising committee – who were predominantly made up of fathers – missed a scheduling conflict with Father’s Day.

The plan you build can be lo-fi or it can be run on a tool such as Project or Trello. To make it easier I have put the plan together in order of when completion of the task is required.

  • Theme – create an interesting or fun theme that has a ‘hook’ for would-be participants
  • Test the theme – test the theme with would-be attendees, see what their reaction is
  • Start and end time – decide when you want to kick off and when you want to finish. Friday evening through to Saturday or Sunday is best
  • Duration – Decide on the event’s length. 24-48 hours is ideal
  • Food – test and decide on meals, snacks, drinks. Offer vegetarian and vegan options and ensure you have enough for everyone. Best advice: don’t skimp on the food!
  • Power – Have power boards available for each team and ensure there are enough power outlets as a lack of power has the potential to make or break your event
  • Networking – This is an imperative, it absolutely must work! Make sure you have a wired and wireless backup available and expect two connections per attendee
  • Audio visual equipment – ensure you have a projector, mic, recording equipment etc and test ahead of time. Don’t leave this to chance – particularly if you are planning to live stream
  • Livestream, video and photography – this is another must do. It allows you to tell a story and create a connection which will live long after the event is finished
  • Presentation and Q&A length – Five minutes is good – three for the pitch and two for Q&A.
  • Judges – Select the best possible judges from across industry – including startups and larger enterprises
  • Training – depending on the type of challenge, training workshops can take place ahead of the event and are a great way for newbies to come up to speed, but also for all participants to pick up new skills
  • Prizes – Prizes should be subject to budget

General Rules of Thumb
The following general rules of thumb stand based on what we have seen running these types of events;

  • Budget – you can set your budget anywhere, however we’d suggest budgeting NZD$250-300 per person
  • Registrations – you are likely to get 15-20% of your target total population if you run the event on a weekend. This generally increases to 20-25% if the events are run during working hours
  • No-shows or drop outs – you are likely to see around 10-15% of your original registrations drop out so plan your catering and venue selection on this basis
  • On the day – you are likely to find that 20-25% will turn up on the day without having given any thought to what they might do during the event.

Other sources of hackathon information

How to run an amazing hackathon (part one)

Matt Swain Holding Award

By Kerry Topp

Not all hackathons are created equal. At Datacom, we know this first hand, because we have run five of them in the last four years.

Our own internal hackathon, Datacomp, was first run as ‘Metrocomp’ in 2012. 30 Datacom employees, all from Auckland, took part. Each year, the competition has grown as people have poured in from across other geographies to take part. Our most recent Datacomp, held from 24-26 July, had about 130 participants from Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch, Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra.

The quality of the solutions presented at the end of the weekend was phenomenal, and everyone – participants, judges and organisers – commented on how successful the weekend had been.

If you want to run a successful hackathon of your own, we have some strategies, best practices and rules of thumb we use to ensure events are valuable, productive and fun for everyone.

What is a hackathon?
At Datacom we define a hackathon broadly as:

A “pressure cooker” event where people come together to rapidly, creatively and innovatively solve problems. A hackathon doesn’t necessarily have to be about technology.

In our hackathons participants typically form into groups of at least five people. We don’t set a maximum, but we’ve found that a team of more than 10 gets difficult to coordinate and impacts momentum.

To get a sense of what a hackathon looks like, check out this video of our 2015 competition:

Here’s what to do before you start planning.

Define the objective – be clear about why you are doing it
Define what the objective of the event is. Is it a cultural exercise first and foremost or is it about the deliverables? Be very clear about what the event is and what it’s not and stay true to the objective throughout the whole process. It’s the whole organising team’s job to ensure that the original objective is kept front and centre throughout hackathon planning and execution.

Define success
Decide on what success looks like by determining the overarching goals of your event in measurable detail. For example you might want 120 attendees, 12 prototypes or hacks delivered, or 10 recruits. This will give you a metric for your post mortem review.

Here are some examples from Datacomp 2015:

Criteria Target Measured by
Staff engagement (event) Minimum 100 people across AsiaPac participating in Datacomp Number participating
Staff satisfaction & engagement  (post event) Minimum of a 4 out of 5 rating for the event Satisfaction survey
Customer testimonials delivered  to sales channels (post event) Minimum 2 customer testimonials via case studies post event Production of testimonials
Staff testimonials delivered to recruitment (during event) Minimum 2 staff testimonials via video during event Production of testimonials
Staff testimonials delivered to recruitment (post event) Minimum 2 staff testimonials via case studies post event Production of testimonials
Social media coverage General: positive social media sentiment from staff and customers participating Standard Social Media coverage

Assign accountability and pull together the organising team
Determine who the sponsor of the event is. They are generally the one who is funding the event. Once this is done determine who is the owner of the event. This is the person who is accountable for making it happen.

Once these two key roles are filled, you can then form the organising team around the event owner. No more than five people is optimal and they must all be committed to making it happen. There is no room for ‘passengers’ in a hackathon organising team.

Consider the stakeholders
When planning a hackathon event, consider the perspectives of each of the following: participants, organisers, mentors, judges and spectators. Working through the use cases of each party will help ensure the event is well-rounded and increase the likelihood of accomplishing the goals of the event.

In the next part of this two-part series, we’ll look at all the logistics – you know who you need to consult, but what do you and your organising team need to actually do?

How to run an amazing hackathon (part two)