Executive Forum on Digital Transformation (DX)- Chicago, September 12 2017


“Argyle Executive Forum is bringing together senior digital & IT executives from a variety of industry verticals for our biannual CIO Chicago Forum. Throughout a full day of content and networking, we will focus on the most pressing issues facing IT executives with regards to leading the business through digital transformation, with an agenda geared specifically towards Chief Information officers, Chief Data Officers, Chief Digital Officers, as well as Data/ Analytics/MIS VPs, Directors, and Architects in a leading role.

Leading the Business Through Digital Transformation – Argyle.



imageFirst, thanks to the team at Argyle for what turned out to be a timely and insightful conference on DX, Digital Transformation. Nokia was one of the Executive Forum’s sponsors as a Senior Supporter.

It is worth noticing that this event featured partners who we work with such as HP Enterprise, Thought Leader Sponsor, and IBM, Breakout Session Sponsor.

That talks to the criticality of collaborative undertakings as Digital Transformation becomes a pressing objective across industries, academia, public service and government sectors.

What follows is my notes and personal insights. While all the sessions and discussions were quite relevant, I would like to highlight the opening keynote, which set the tone and narrative of the event.


imageJames P. MacLennan, SVP & CIO at IDEX, discussed “The Five Components of a Great Digital Strategy,” which addressed the fact that “Design Thinking”, “Human Factors” and a collaborative culture involving interdisciplinary workstyles and “Great Teams” have become of the essence.

Moreover, he stated that “a Digital Business” will only succeed when it understands hot to connect with people.” The “human element” and, therefore, “people centered” strategies turn out to be critical success factors.

I would like to add that this entails engineering a continuum of (a) stakeholders, who are all human personas by definition, and to do so across (b) UX (user experience) and CX (customer experience) domains.

This job takes (c) a holistic understanding of customer facing (front end) and resource facing (back end) elements forming a coherent end-to-end system. Otherwise, operational fragmentation will take a toll and will deny the intended DX benefits.


imageJames’ presentation displayed the convoluted UI (user interface) shown in this picture to illustrate the paradox of well intended yet counterproductive implementations that negate transformation initiatives.

Here is another valuable insight coming out of Argyle’s Executive Forum: information technologies (IT) and tech and processes for operations cannot longer be worlds apart, which demands superb cross-functional teamwork.

Cognitive overload, deficient information architecture, and poor usability translates into: human error, risk aversion, costly budget overruns, missing or deviating from goals, so on and so forth.

Any and all of these issues combined can be silently impacting quality or, simply, just lowering the bar for a business to get through noisy and cluttered operational environments. That is hardly the stuff that operational excellence calls for.


Obviously, in the context of CX, customer satisfaction becomes harder and harder to attain and, more specifically, to get that effectively done in a consistent fashion.

Predictability and consistency are key objectives for any Quality Management program. If that scenario alone wasn’t troublesome enough, Customer Delight (rather than just satisfying agreed upon requirements) is Design Thinking’s ultimate performance indicator, which commands a premium clearly beyond reach under those circumstances.

Quality management wise, “satisfaction” is the fulfilment of expected specifications while “delight” is about great pleasure, or great satisfaction if you will. “Satisfaction” can be rationalized and is the acceptance ticket to be in business. “Delight” accounts for human affects (emotions) and is a powerful source of differentiation. Those who think that’s just about splitting hairs should take a pause and think twice because DX is set to enable game changing experiences on all counts and fronts.


Thoughtout the forum and session after session, Jim’s “Design for Humans”  principle gained more and more critical mass as presenters and panelists discussed the reasons why we should be mindful of the user journey and how to best improve all touch points along the way.

In one of the panel discussions this became even more evident when the question on aligning people, processes and technologies pointed to difficult prioritization exercises. Note that there was immediate consensus on the need for putting people first and humanizing technology and processes by applying Design Thinking, a human centered methodology that is corner stone to the job of creative technologists.

That means projects that are driven by clear missions and specific experiential outcomes and lifecycles (Goal Directed Design) rather than just an I/O approach. It also means rapid experience prototyping and A/B multivariate testing to explore possibilities since Design Thinking is a serial innovation engine.



imageLet’s connect some more dots.

Chicago’s NPR station aired a rerun of The Power of Design this past weekend. The discussion was centered on “How Can We Design For A Better Experience.”

By the way, TED’s acronym actually stands for the convergence of Technology, Entertainment and… Design.


Interview with Tony Fadell, one of the main designers of the iPod (Apple) and founder of Nest (Google).

 “Design begins by also noticing all those little problems that many ignore (…) we we though our lives accepting these design flaws that actually don’t improve our lives.”

“Steve Jobs challenged us to see our products through the eyes of the customer, the new customer, the one that has fears and possible frustrations, and hopes and exhilaration that the new technology can work straight away for them. He called it “staying beginners” and wanted to make sure that we focused on those tiny little details to make things work faster and seamless for the new customers.”

“There is this positive emotional momentum that builds on itself at each step of the process (…) when you hit a brick wall you loose all the momentum (…) and though away an entire great experience.”

“There are to halves to design, just as there are two halves to your brain, the emotional part and the rational part. If you want people to truly adopt your product it has to have an emotional component, something that grabs you (…) that unlocks your curiosity, it also needs to rationally work (…) because people see value beyond the sexiness.”


Interview with Joe Gebbia, Airbnb cofounder.

“Any time that you see duct tape in the world, that’s a design opportunity (…) it’s an indicator that something is broken, that something did not perform the way it was design to and that there is an opportunity to improve it.”

“Design is the key to (Airbnb) success (…) and as a competitive advantage, design is thing that can separate you (…) the next thing that can differentiate you. All things being equal, two comparable products side by side with the same technical features and components… you will be crazy to choose the one that is harder to use.”

“Airbnb’s design decisions not only made the service easy to use but it helped millions of complete estrangers trust each other (…) and open their homes (…) design is more than the look and feel of something, it is the whole experience.”


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