5 Questions With… Dion Hinchcliffe

Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized thought leader, business strategist, enterprise architect, book author, keynote speaker, analyst, and transformation consultant. He works with Global 2000 companies to effect change with emerging digital methods, including social media, digital business models, internet ecosystems, and workforce collaboration.

Question 1: How do you define ‘digital strategy’?

“Digital strategy is the concept of taking the technology, channels, and concepts of the digital world — in particular the Internet but of all aspects of digital — and determining how it should impact your business. This means operations, processes, service delivery, product development, business goals, and even business models. A good digital strategy does not over-constrain the outcome. Instead, it points the business at the future operating environment in a constructive and enabling way. It does this by painting a vision and roadmap for what is possible and what should be achieved in terms of digital enablement and transformation.”

Question 2: How does your work intersect with recent Chief Digital Officer trends?

“I clearly see that organizations today are becoming swamped by digital change. In my work, I see that organizations are still trying to deliver all technology transformation through a bottleneck, the IT department. The reality is that organizations can’t get to where they need to be through such a centralized model. I’ve seen that the Chief Digital Officer has become an essential new top-level role that can help spread the responsibilities for digital transformation to a wider set of leaders.”

Question 3: Can you tell us about some of your digital transformation research?

“Yes, some of the broader trends most of us are familiar with, such as consumerization, the shift to mobile, the growth of analytics to measure everything, and social tools that are used to break down silos and increase collaboration within and outside the enterprise. What fewer people see is the digital chasm forming between the digital leaders and the laggards in the enterprise world. A few organizations are making the transition to what I call next-generation enterprises, which means natively applying digital technologies to their foundational business models. The rise of the so-called collaborative economy is the cross-industry indicator that shows that the rest of the business world is not waiting for traditional enterprises to fully ‘get’ digital, they are remaking the world economy today. My research — and others — now shows that time is growing short for legacy organizations to made the shift.”

Question 4: What was your initial reaction to the emergence of the Chief Digital Officer role, and how has it changed over time?

“I certainly saw the utility in the new role, particularly as the CIO already has so many infrastructure and business continuity responsibilities, that he or she didn’t have time to focus on making the use of digital assets and channels to grow the business. While I think the CDO may become less-than a C-level role after a decade from now, I see that it’s becoming a widely recognized essential role today to move traditional enterprises into the present.”

Question 5: What advice do you have for aspiring digital professionals?

“Become fast learners. Stay on top of the technologies, use the tools and platforms that are emerging, and figure out how to apply them to your business. Educate others, especially senior leaders who often don’t have the time to learn it on their own. Without your leadership being aware and understanding the trends, you can’t the resources or mandate to drive digital change. Helping them is helping you.”


For more information about Dion Hinchcliffe, visit his blog, follow him on Twitter, or check him out on LinkedIn.

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