January 2, 2020

2020: The Year of Digital Acceleration

By: Larry Bridgesmith

In every “J” or “hockey stick” curve, there is a knee, or a point in time when linear progress becomes exponential. 2019 may have been the knee of the data analytics curve.

Google searches for terms like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Digital Transformation have exploded. IBM Cognitive Legal predicted that 2020 is the year in which digital data will begin to double each day.

The signs of exponential rates of change in the growth of digital analytics are everywhere.

However, without executive attention to a company’s culture, organizational digital change will remain incremental, or worse, stagnant. As often addressed in this blog series, culture change is an organizational antecedent to efficient and cost-effective digital acceleration.

In 2019, there have been many examples of business leaders who have embraced the culture change that must precede digital transformation.

Ahold Delhaize, a global grocery retailer headquartered in the Netherlands, gave significant emphasis to its digital acceleration initiative in 2019. Among other key indicators, the company began the year by hiring Farhan Siddiqi as Chief Digital Officer and member of the Executive Committee. Company CEO Frans Muller charged Siddiqi with responsibilities to “help further accelerate Ahold Delhaize’s digital transformation, a key element in our Leading Together strategy.” The Leading Together 2019 strategy is built on the foundation of culture and organizational DNA. Illustrating the success of its commitment, in late 2019 the company officially opened its partnership with Delft University by expanding its Artificial Intelligence in Retail Laboratory (AIRLab) to research and develop robotics and AI applications in retail. Great progress in AI implementation begins with culture.

The Harvard Business Review proclaims the value of “culture first” digital transformation in a recent review of the work done by TD Wealth, the wealth management unit of Toronto-based TD Bank Group. Building a Culture That Embraces Data and AI requires more than lip service. Digital transformation efforts have failed in large part due to a failure to do what TD Wealth has done well.

Beginning with basic training in what AI is and is not, the managers at TD Wealth have been exposed to the understanding necessary to embrace the impact of AI applications in their work. However, understanding alone is insufficient. Experiential exposure to AI’s value is essential to shift “from fearing change to embracing change.”

Effective culture change is the fastest and least costly means of accelerating digital transformation. The payoff is more than typical analytics. Rather, it provides deep insights into the dynamics that are fueling the disruptive changes of the decade before us, Accelerate Insite is dedicated to assisting companies gain the digital insight needed to meet the fundamental need of humans confronted with change:

2020 is the year to get on board or remain behind.