Will Lassalle, Chief Information Officer at cybersecurity company Lynx Technology Partners spoke with Blaine Mathieu, VANTIQ CMO and host of The Real-Time Enterprise about the mindset required for an agile digital transformation.
What follows are some takeaways from their conversation. You can watch the complete interview here.
Blaine: You recently wrote an article on The Real-Time Enterprise blog talking about how CIOs need to transform or perish. What’s the core thesis you had in that article?
Will: The reason I was saying “transform or parish” is you get people to stay in that mindset of keeping the lights on.
The thought process around it was that you’ve got to transform. You’ve got to transform the organization, the culture, and your mindset to be a mindset of digital, utilizing digital technology, being able to be innovative, but being able to have the core foundation in the culture and in the organization to adapt to change as it presents itself, even in real time, to be able to adapt to that change. Otherwise, time is going to pass you by.
I’m sure there’s infographics you will see all over Twitter and everything like that showing you Blockbuster, Yahoo, AOL, or Myspace on what happened and the lessons learned. Pets.com! For a long time, I used to have a running joke saying I bought my first goldfish from pets.com. People forgot about pets.com but then you have stories now that are success stories. It’s like, “Man that’s what pets.com did in 99-2000.”
Then, chewy.com. Chewy. I’m like, “What’s the difference?” Chewy did it better. Chewy did it at a time that they were able to be more agile; at a time where they were successful and had a successful exit selling to PetSmart. That’s how I looked at it. You’ve got to transform or you’re going to die. You’re going to end up like one of those examples of a failed company.
“To me, digital transformation is not, “You want to go from A to B.” It’s a mindset. It’s changing. It’s being able to see the forest for the trees and being able to adapt and adopt a mindset of real-time business strategy and execution and changing the strategy on the fly, if need be.”
– Will Lassalle
Blaine: As we’ve just been discussing, it’s as much about business model transformation as it is about a technology transformation. Who do you think should fundamentally own digital transformation initiatives in organizations? What do you think about this question about digital transformation: IT or OT?
Will: When it comes to owning digital transformation, to me, the best qualified person/team to deliver the results successfully should own it.
To me, personally, it’s whoever has the capability of being a leader, being able to take it by the rein and lead that effort and can get the teams to believe in that vision. That should be the best person. Whether that person comes from IT or from the business, fine, because at the end, the intersection between business and IT, it blurs the line.
Again, if you go back to my first thing where every company is a technology company, then the IT is part of the business. It’s not just a servant to the business. It is part of the business.
Blaine: Any particular area where most people are saying X and you’re saying Y?
Will: Yeah oh definitely! This is just a rant for me. Even recently, I tweeted about it a couple of days ago I think. It’s fresh in my mind.
It’s SME: Subject Matter Expertise or Subject Matter Experts. I know people that are speculative in the bitcoin market and then they’ll turn around and they’ll talk about blockchain. What do you know about blockchain? What do you know about all this stuff except that you’re investing? So, you look into the research, you spend an hour a day. So now, all of a sudden, you’re a subject matter expert?
Blaine: I’ve never seen anything like it, actually. You’re right. AI, some of the other technologies, cloud, they went through some of that, to a certain degree, but nothing to the extent of blockchain. I think it’s because it’s applied to the cryptocurrency and the whole investment and money side. It attracted the SMEs like flies to rancid meat. It’s just unbelievable. I think that’s a good observation.
Any key takeaways or tips for business leaders, maybe in particular, who are trying to figure out how to drive transformation in their business?
Will: To me, digital transformation is not, “You want to go from A to B.” It’s a mindset. It’s changing. It’s being able to see the forest for the trees and being able to adapt and adopt a mindset of real-time business strategy, real-time execution and changing the strategy on the fly, if need be.
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