Geometric shapes on a wooden background

Show-and-Tell Collaboration Powers Digital Progress

A stalemate result in the general election and an unclear view of the Brexit negotiations ahead is a parlous state of affairs, also endemic in many organizations transitioning to digital, I suspect. The UK’s first-past-the-post electoral system encourages tribalism and factions, and works against a grown-up, consensual way of discussing challenges and working together to produce solutions.

The flip side of this is demonstrated in the business world. Those companies succeeding in digital business models are the ones who are thinking across traditional organizational silos – joining up processes or doing them in different ways can produce mutual benefit for the customer and the business. This kind of thinking and working means leaving behind old silos and feudal allegiances in favour of non-partisan collaboration.

It’s worth checking in with a few companies who have gone public on their digital efforts to see how collaboration figures in their transformation approaches. Eurostar CIO, Laurent Bellan, reveals how he is delivering cultural change and a future business strategy at the rail operator in an in-depth Q&A with CIO UK.

“It’s a challenge because we are facing situations where technology provides some capabilities that have gone too far or fast for our businesses to keep up with. So [conversations] start at the top with the executive committee and I engage with them a lot and work with the management to embrace new technologies and attitudes. We are trying to implement changes in some areas – we are doing an agile project in the station and we will expand from that as an example for other projects.”

This kind of show-and-tell, using evidence-based pilots in-house as a way to progress digital, is supported by other IT chiefs in the spotlight. Financial Times Chief Product and Information Officer, Cait O’Riordan, is focused on iterative success rather than Big Bang launches. She is championing artificial intelligence as a digital technology to augment and complement journalism, rather than as an end in itself.

Related article: Business Leaders Still Disconnected from Cyber Risks

In furthering digital, Eurostar also avoids centralized, top-down directives with IT instead working as part of every team across the company. “I am kind of lucky because Eurostar is not a large company – there are only 1,500 people and technology is not seen as a support function. We are part of the business teams and we work very closely with some of the executive commissioners for projects,” explains Bellan.

Maybe we’ll see a generation of digital leaders step up and play a significant role in politics in the future. They have the right skills, after all: proving a technology (or policy) works before blowing taxpayer’s money on it; an appetite for change but due only alongside due diligence and risk mitigation; a preference for practical solutions over ideology. Above all, they talk to everyone in the company, and take people with them.

Share your views and opinions on this via our LinkedIn Group.

Helen Beckett

Author: Helen Beckett

Helen Beckett is the Community Manager of the Business Value Exchange. She has been a writer and editor for over 20 years and takes a particular interest in the challenges facing the CIO in today’s business climate.