To help clients lead digital transformation and create competitive
advantage, Dr. Westerman puts forth three imperatives. Westerman’s 3 ways
If you’re a great provider, you
already have technology that can
help make sense of the big-picture
data … and create a single view
of each customer.
Help your clients step beyond what
they’re doing today. Get them to a
vision of doing things differently,
and much better.
Build the capacity to make smart
investment decisions, and deliver
on those investments in both
technology and business outcomes.
That’s how a mining company in
Chile could envision a world where
nobody will ever need to work
underground again. And they’re
making it happen!
SV: What are some of the steps
companies can take to become
a Digital Master?
GW: First, take a look at where you are
on technology and leadership, and
assess where you stand. Do you have
the basics in place to use these new
technologies to move forward, or do
you have to do a lot of cleanup first?
Also, is your IT organization considered
just order-takers and somewhat
disrespected, or are they much
closer to partners in the business?
Because Digital Masters have very
tight relationships between businesses
and their IT organizations.
SV: Do you have any advice for
business leaders around security?
GW: Pay attention to it. Especially as
we move into mobile. As more and
more parts of your company use private
information, the opportunities to have
a major failure are there. We’ve all heard
about big, big companies with major
security breaches. That’s no longer a
technology problem. That’s a
OUT THE SPAGHETTI
SV: In your book you talk about
spaghetti—physical and digital
spaghetti. What does it all mean?
GW: Spaghetti is the mess behind the
scenes of your information processes.
If you clean that up, you have waves
and waves of opportunity. If, for
example, you don’t have a single
view of your customer, it’s really
hard to deliver personalized service.
If you don’t know what’s happening
in your processes, it’s really hard to
SV: So what’s your advice for
companies to move from digital
spaghetti to automated, streamlined
GW: Well, the trick about spaghetti is
that it grows organically over time,
when dealing with small needs over
and over again. Every time you
customize something, if you do it
without the big view in mind, you
create more spaghetti. The answer is
to create a vision of how your company
is going to be different and then work
your way towards making that happen.
That’s not something a CIO can do
alone—CIOs can fix the technology, but
the processes are owned by other
people. You have to work together
to implement the vision.
WORK TOGETHER TO
IMPLEMENT THE VISION
SV: If you look five years out,
what technologies are you most
GW: As I look ahead, there are three
specific things I’m very excited about.
3D printing. It not only changes the
way you manufacture pieces, but also
it changes the way you think about
what you manufacture and when.
Advanced analytics. IBM’s Watson
won Jeopardy a few years ago, but
it’s now entering legal. It’s entering
healthcare. What happens when
Watson becomes your doctor, or
at least your physician’s assistant?
Autonomous vehicles. Soon the
Google car will become your taxi
service. It’ll become your delivery
vehicle … and that’s going to
completely transform not only the
way we think about logistics, but
also the way we think about where
we live and how we operate as
SV: Exciting! Any final thoughts
you want to share?
GW: As technology accelerates, the
transformations keep growing. So the
biggest advice I have is get started
now building the vision and leadership
capabilities you need.
Leading Digital, co-authored by
Dr. George Westerman, details
how numerous companies—many
in not-so-high-tech industries—
have completely transformed the
way they work by implementing
a digital vision for the future.
“Are you using
into a butterfly …
or just a really