Is it really true that older generations are inhibitors to digital business transformation initiatives?
Neil Cattermull, Director at Frontier Technology spoke with Blaine Mathieu, VANTIQ CMO and host of The Real-Time Enterprise about the future impacts and trends of technology in business and culture.
Neil was formerly an analyst with Compare the Cloud, a tech-savvy creative media agency and was a director and founder of the Canary Wharf Consultancy.
What follows are some takeaways from their conversation. You can watch the complete interview here.
Blaine: Tell us a bit more about yourself and your current company.
Neil: Frontier is more of an integrator/advisory company that advises small to large cap firms on tech roadmaps/strategy right across the board from applications to tech roadmaps with digital transformation to best fit advice at the right place at the right time, really.
Blaine: You recently wrote an article on LinkedIn called “Time Waits for No Man, Not Even a Developer”. What was the core thesis of that article?
Neil: It’s based on one of the events I went to in the U.K. about AI and adoption of AI and the fast uptake of it. In all reality, it is pretty much still the Wild West out there. Developers get a bad rap, in all reality. They’re working under pretty stressful, chronic conditions.
When you look at adaptive intelligence, that’s where we need to be. Artificial intelligence is fine: if this precondition here is met, do this. When we then go one step further, then we’re into the realms of machine-to machine learning. That’s even more funky, wacky, and out there.
Self-healing code, autonomous patching code – now that’s adaptive intelligence. That’s way different from standard AI, query-based analytics.
Blaine: Are you fundamentally saying that you think AI-based applications will replace or must replace developers? In other words, developers are moving too slowly?
Neil: I think, in the future, yeah, to be honest. If you look at the speed up of technology of late, over the last five, six years, cloud adoption is the norm. It never used to be. Now, you look at the next logical step: how do we develop to the cloud? Now let’s automate that. Let’s make that easier. There wouldn’t be any skill shortages of that stuff. Even to the point of speaking code: you tell a computer to do something and it codes it for you!
Blaine: I think that’s inevitable, that transition. Speaking of transitions, we talk a lot about so-called “digital transformation” on this web series. What does digital transformation mean to you and is it really happening?
Neil: About three years ago, maybe four years ago now, everyone was hailing digital transformation as the next best thing since sliced bread. Everyone was using the analogy of Kodak and failed companies that were dominant players in the industry that sat back, didn’t move forward, didn’t actually progress.
Look at, for example, pet care. You could look at that in so many ways. Yes, you can look at the tech that underpins it. That’s great, but that’s just a tech transition. What’s the business value for that? Why would I want to do it? What business objectives can the tech underpin? It’s more of what we can do for their business to drive their growth and also use some of the mainstream technology behind that to ensure that happens. That’s just connectivity. Communication is key – right place, right time.
But also, it’s a cultural thing. We have a generation gap which the younger generation can adopt the new, agile lead tech and the methods of progressing in business where the older generation finds it hard. It leaves that massive cultural divide. It’s a cultural thing, technical change. But, you need to have the right business drivers at the top, at least to point.
Blaine: Do you have any final words of advice or wisdom for business or technology leaders who are looking to drive their real-time digital transformation?
Neil: Don’t believe the hype. Take your case as an individual and don’t compare it to anyone else’s business. Start from within. Look at the change. Get your strategy guys and the people that are driving your business forward today. Bring it in house and work out what you need to do. You don’t need to follow the rest of the herd. It’s very specific and very individual to you.
Not all firms need to convert digital. That’s as simple as that. Don’t spend money you don’t have to. Of course, you can hire me, obviously, and I will help you out!