Digital Transformation with Rackspace's Chief Digital Technologist Mike Bainbridge

Episode 177: Recorded live on Thu Jan 12, 2017.

What does digital actually mean? What does a digitally mature business look like? What is the point of all this, why is it so important? Our Chief Digital Technologist Mike Bainbridge spends a lot of time thinking about these important questions. He’ll join us on Office Hours this week to discuss Digital Transformation, and how the cloud plays such an important role in digital transformation.

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  • Alan Bush: @alanbush - Community Manager at Rackspace
  • Drew Cox: @DrewCoxSA - Enterprise Technical Advisor at Rackspace
  • Guests:

  • Mike Bainbridge: @dgtlMike - Chief Digital Technologist at Rackspace- As Chief Digital Technologist at Rackspace Mike enables customers to navigate the complex world of digital technology partners, cloud platforms and industry trends. With an unrivaled enthusiasm, he helps businesses realise their digital potential and become more successful online. With a background in ecommerce architecture he brings a strong focus on customer experience, performance and measurable success criteria. As an advocate of all things digital you might catch Mike speaking at conferences, networking events or executive briefings. Mike has over 18 years of IT strategy experience, he blogs at and tweets about industry related topics as @dgtlMike

  • Transcript

    Alan Bush: Hey everybody, welcome to another Rackspace Office Hours from Rackspace, the number one manage cloud company. My name’s Alan Bush and I’m here with my co-host Drew Cox.

    Drew Cox: Hello hello.

    AB: Hey and we are going to be talking a little bit about digital transformation, and when we wanna talk about digital transformation there’s one guy in the company that we definitely wanna talk to, and that is Mike Bainbridge and he is joining us from inside of this monitor direct from London, England where he’s sticking around after hours to chat with us. Hey Mike, how you doing?

    Mike Bainbridge: Hey I’m great thanks, Alan, and thanks for having me on the show. I’m a big fan of the podcast, so great to be on.

    AB: Hey, well thank you very much. We’re big fans of yours as well, and this is an intersection that needed to happen. So we’re glad to have you on, and we really wanna jump in and talk about digital transformation. Which I know is a topic that’s on the minds of a lot of our customers. A lot of folks are really thinking about that and you’ve been thinking about it a lot too, Mike. So why don’t you go ahead and just introduce yourself. Tell us how long you’ve been at Rack or what type of things you’re doing here at Rackspace, and we can jump in from there.

    MB: Great, I’ve been with Rackspace for about two and a half years now. Initially I joined as a specialist architect for eCommerce and high transactional websites, so I designing infrastructure for our most demanding customers. Typically the ones who need a site that scales well for huge traffic around Black Friday, and is really business dependent. And then I moved into the role of chief digital technologist about 18 months ago, and it’s really to help our customers understand that digital environment and digital transformation. So it really includes an overview of how technology is changing. We run digital maturity workshops with our customers to help them get an idea of how they can transform their business to become more efficient. The other part of that role as well is thought leadership. So I speak at events and conferences and I’ve done a number of executive briefings recently too, all on behalf of Rackspace, and I engage with our research partners. You know, in conjunction with marketing efforts so when we’re looking to run white papers and those sort of things, I do those, and contribute to blocks. So that’s kind of what my remit is. I’m really lucky. Rackspace is a great place to do this. We have so many customers and it’s helping them be more effective and more efficient online. Which is, I guess, what we’re in business for.

    DC: Absolutely, everybody’s, I think, now especially being this window after that heavy Black Friday, Cyber Monday holiday season of shopping where people have been able to kinda see obsess, assess. They may have obsessed already. Now they can assess on how they did. What that looked like for them in 2016. Where they’ve done well, where they can improve, and January seems to be when most companies look at what’s the next step. Where do we go from here? How do we become more mature in the way we approach our business? And so this is an ideal time to take a moment and look at what digital maturity looks like, how the market is maturing, and how customers of ours and potential customers out there can look at their approach and improve that incrementally towards their specific goals. So I think this is a perfect time. What did you see over this last few months that have been big themes and big pieces of that conversation?

    MB: Well when we look at sort of, from my background, those high transactional sites and sites you have that build up to the seasonal period that Black Friday, and Christmas, and those kind of holidays. I think for the first time this year really, it was no surprise. I remember back in 2012 when the first big online rushes were starting, people were panicking and sites were crashing all over the place, but I think we’re at a situation now where particularly eCommerce brand, particularly those pure plays who rely on their website as their only gateway to their customers. They’re ready for it now. In terms of transforming their business and this term digital transformation gets used quite a lot. Sometimes it gets a bit lost in the buzzwords a bit, but it’s really about looking at other aspects of business. Not just the technology, not just the infrastructure, and you know what, I believe it’s an amazing time now. We’re right on the crest of this wave of change that’s really being driven by technology, and I read a really cool stat the other week. It used to take fortune 500 companies 20 years to get to a one billion dollar valuation, and now only takes four years, and that’s after you adjust for currency fluctuation. So these type of growth businesses and super cool startups that we hear about are becoming a real threat to traditional industries, traditional companies, and everyone wants to learn, everyone wants to understand how they do it. I think there’s some of digital is really what that’s all about.

    DC: Yeah I think you see specifically the popular person or group that’s brought up is Uber, that really traditional and tringed business like a taxi service that’s been around for most of the time that automobiles have been used, all of the sudden gets upended by this upstart business that’s been valuated incredibly high and come out a seemingly nowhere in a very short period of time. That kind of reality really reframes a lot of existing businesses’ approach to what they’re doing digitally and with their web presences, and how they’re going about their business when you can have a company in that four years go from no one knows about them to a huge disruptor and destabilizer of a market. It really requires those currently established businesses to approach things in a new way, and that can be difficult when you look at how many tools there are out there, and what a daunting task that might be to overhaul an approach. With technology growing as quickly as it is, that becomes a little bit of a headache and it’s useful to have places where you can go and get distilled knowledge and a clear path forward regardless of kind of your business segment.

    MB: Yeah, and the great thing about this transformation we’re going through, and you hit the nail right on the head there, Drew when you said companies have to change. The reason Uber’s become so successful, and of course technology played a big part. If you didn’t carry a smartphone around, the cab wouldn’t know where you were, you wouldn’t be able to hale it. It’s a GPS connected network device that you carry around with you. We didn’t have those 15 years ago. The iPhone’s 10 years old this year. That gives you an idea of the speed of the change, but the one thing for me that Uber did, and sometimes people forget is, the reason the became so successful is they took a proposition that was being presented to customers by taxi firms and they improved it in multiple ways. So if you think of the traditional way of getting a taxi. Imagine the scenario. You’re at a friends house one evening, you’ve had a few beers, you need to get home. You’re not gonna drive, so you wanna get a cab. You either have to go out onto the street and try and hale one, and that can be a bit hit or miss depending on where you live. It can be impossible for a lot of people, or you call a cab firm and you know they’ll say it’ll take 20, 30 minutes to come, and it takes a bit of planning. The first thing Uber did was, they made it easier and quicker for people to get a cab. You press the button, you know how long it’s gonna take, he knows how to get to you. They made that easy. The second thing they did to improve that experience was to take the hassle of payments away. So again, if you think of the traditional model, have I got enough cash on me? I don’t know how much the fare’s gonna be. Does the driver even have a card machine, can he take cards? Sometimes that’s a bit hit or miss. With Uber, payments seamless. It’s done through the app. You’re emailed the receipt. You have an audit of your journeys. Again, they made the experience so much better. And the third thing that they did, that I think is the real game changer, and often a lot of people don’t think about is, they actually improved the customer experience by making it in everyone’s interest for that journey to be better. So not only when you get out of the car or when you’ve had your journey do you get to rate the driver on a one to five stars, so you have that reinforcement of how good it is, the social proof of how good that driver is, and if you fall, I read an article a while ago, if I driver falls below 3.5 stars, then Uber gets in touch, checks if he’s doing the right things and tries to encourage him on how he can make the ride better. But the other thing, the driver’s rate you as well. So I don’t know if you guys use Uber or if you know this, but you can go in, you can request your rating from the drivers. So the drivers give you a rating. So it’s in the drivers interest and your interest for that journey to become a better experience. Now whether that’s sitting there and saying nothing or not being abusive, all those different things. There’s now a real clear requirement or interest for everyone to have a better experience, and for me this idea of digital transformation is really about putting the customer first, taking these customer centric solutions and changing the world by making it better, and then when you can bring lowering the cost of things and improving the service in that way, it’s a recipe for success, and Uber is, of course, the perfect example of this. The one that gets quoted over and over. The ultimate example of a modern digital company. The worlds biggest startup. It’s a great one.

    DC: They’ve certainly done an incredible job of completely upending the way it’s even thought about to be in that transportation industry in that way. So definitely an exciting example. We’re actually getting some feedback on Facebook. I’m gonna take a quick minute to just kinda set. If you have questions, you’re watching this live and you’d like to interact, we’d love to hear from you. We’ve got ways to do that on whatever platform–

    AB: Looks like Juan and Danny have already jumped in and said, hey we’ll address your stuff here in just a second guys.

    DC: Yeah we’re gonna get to those things, but they’ve done a great job of pace setting. We’ve got comments on Facebook. You can do the same through Periscope, or YouTube, or Google+, and then if you’re a second screener and you’re using Twitter, feel free to interact with us on Twitter. We’ve got the #CloudQA that we’re monitoring, or you can use any of our handles, but one of the questions Danny shot us was to ask mike to share what you feel like Rackspace’s biggest impact will be when it comes to digital transformation in 2017, and I image we have gotten to that at some point in our conversation, but Danny since you asked and we’re doing this live, let’s not make you wait for it. What are you looking at as a trend towards next year broadly, and then what’s Rackspace’s impact gonna be in that space as other companies try to follow the lead of companies like Uber to really transform their business and then their market?

    MB: Well I really think 2017, and by the way I’m not a huge one for predictions, so this is a rare one.

    AB: We had [Rackspace CTO] John Engates on last week, he covered–

    MB: Yeah I heard. So he covered most of the bases for me, but 2017 I think is gonna be the year where we see a huge uptake in cloud adoption. I’ve seen numerous statistics over the last 18 months or so that says 80% of work clouds are still on premise, and that big number is, I think, driven by a lot of traditional business who still have computer rooms, co-located data center facilities, or their own data centers. I think this is the year when they’re gonna start moving to cloud. There’s been a lot of getting ready, running dev tests, smaller workloads in cloud environments so that they are, I suppose, more comfortable with the technology so they can build up the skills within their workforce so they can work with partners to help them migrate and understand what that looks like and adopt methodologies like their box. I think this year we’re gonna start to see some big companies really putting their infrastructure play into the cloud or into that multi-cloud environment that we hear so much about. When we talk about how Rackspace can help and enable customers become more digitally mature, which is a term we like to use, become more modern, well there are a number of things. Firstly for me, the foundations of digital success are really built on two things, and again, you can look at the successful companies. We’ve mentioned Uber, companies like Airbnb who are seen as these modern entities. It’s built on two things. Firstly is cloud technology. So from going from startup to a billion turnover quickly, rapid scale, they don’t do it by investing in IT infrastructure and buying tons of service and network gear. You just can’t scale a company that quickly. So cloud and helping customers scale. This is what we do, we have that expertise at Rackspace, and for me, that’s probably the number one thing how we will help customers go on that digital journey. The other foundation is by using data. By making decisions in much more effective ways. I heard this great term a few years ago. Which is “kill the HiPPO”, and the “HiPPO” stands for the highest paid person’s opinion. So no longer do you listen to the guy who says, well that’s how we’ve always done it so that’s how we’re doing it, or that finger in the air, let me take an educated guess as to how we do this. If you’ve got data, if you’ve got numbers, you can make the right decisions every time, and you can monitor, you can do split testing, you can do take the variance and see which is best, and it’s that being able to do quick iterations, do tests in those sort of ways, and deliver that agility to teams in the business. So from an infrastructure perspective from, I suppose, big high level things, what are those foundation? It’s cloud and data, and then when you sort of start to get under the weeds and talk about business process and trying to become more agile, it’s helping customers adopt those sort of methodologies that help them deliver on cloud quickly and iterate quickly. So particularly around dev ops and automation of those platforms. Again, that’s something that Rackspace can help with, with our customers. There are a lot of things that actually we don’t do, and sometimes I have to say to customers, we’re not gonna devise or build a social analytics platform that helps you engage with your customers in a new way, but the great thing is, with over 300,000 customers, and a great partner ecosystem, I bet we know someone who’s already done it, or I bet we’ve got a customer who’s done something similar to you and we can pull on that deep experience that we have of our big customer set.

    AB: Yeah absolutely. I think there’s huge room to take our customers out of the data centers. They might have a toe in the cloud, but when you’re talking about hosting your corporate brochure website versus all of the applications that run to make your business your business. That is all largely in corporate data centers and co-location, and we’re seeing a lot of customers already, and I think you’re right Mike, I think we’re gonna see a lot more that are taking those servers, putting them into the cloud, putting them into dedicated data centers that Rackspace can manage, for example. And then taking their IT staff that have been doing a lot of maintenance on the servers and making sure the servers are up and running, and utilizing them to do that second part of what you just said, which is analyze the data that’s coming back out of all of that information that we’re gathering. We’re seeing a lot of companies that are leaning on their IT staff to help them understand, hey what’s going on, what is happening in all of this data? Help me sift through all of this, and then adding value back to the business that way.

    DC: Well yeah, to analyze and act on the data you have, it can open up opportunities for new business. We’re gonna go back to Uber to think about this, but you talked about big data being this huge important piece of being a more efficient and effective organization. When they can do things like search pricing, that allows them to really control some of the key factors in their business, and that takes big data saying, okay we’ve seen this before. We know that this is a time period or an event that if let continue, there’s gonna be more and more demand. So we can charge a little bit more. Which will A, discourage maybe a few writers so that we can continue to serve them quickly and keep them satisfied, and B, encourage drivers to get out there and increase the workforce that we have executing work against this market, and it also allows them to have that multiplier on their income. It’s not something that they could do as easily, effectively, and in such a scalpel precise way. Without big data it’d be something like, well we’re gonna have happy hour rates. Imagine that good time. They can be very specific and say, well because there’s a big sporting event, this location, we’re gonna have serge pricing within an X block radius so that we can encourage drivers to head across town and help out that needed area, and maybe change the mind of a couple of potential customers so that we can make that bridge work until we have that additional set of resources. So it’s taking the data you have, making sense of it, and understanding what that can mean for your business and then being able to build features around it. So your IT staff gets to be business strategic instead of operational requirement, and that’s a huge differentiator when you’re spending all that money to find and keep really bright technical people. To be able to use them in the most optimal way is really gonna make a huge difference on what you’re able to achieve as a business.

    MB: Yeah absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. I think data is probably the big thing. I know it’s sometimes seen as the, maybe the least sexy thing. Harvard Business Review said data scientist was the coolest job in 2016. They’re typically paid 2.5 to five times more than developers with the same experience levels. Being able to understand and analyze data, but not only that, being able to solve business problems with it. Another quote, and I’m killing myself ‘cause I can’t remember who I heard it from, but someone said, data is cheap but insights are invaluable, and that’s where you really deliver value into your organization.

    DC: It feels like that’s where the corner is being turned right now. There’s been a lot of focus on capturing data, and capturing more and more data. It’s getting cheaper and cheaper to do so, and so as the giant pools of data that customers are providing to businesses, they’re capturing all of this, but now they’ve gotta find a way to act on it, and taking the right actions and taking well reasoned next steps based on that data is really kinda where the market has shifted from just capturing it all and having it, to understanding what it can mean for you, and doing things that generate value beyond just, yeah there’s a data lake back there. There’s probably a Loch Ness Monster in it too, I don’t know. But using it usefully is kind of the shift that I feel like really took root this year, and into 2017.

    AB: Right, well and actually, it’s funny, it’s one of the things that our CTO John Endgates mentioned as one of his predictions for 2016, right? It was that thing, again, it was businesses have data. They’re collecting more and more everyday, but who’s gonna use it the smartest? We’ve identified Uber as one of those unicorns as doing it really well, but Airbnb’s another one. There’s plenty of them that are using that really well. We’re definitely seeing that data being used, not just collected.

    MB: So great, I know we’ve talked, I’ve talked now about kinda the foundations that you build this digitally mature business on, but there’s another part of this I wanna touch on. These sort of four pillars of success as well. I think they’re fairly widely discussed in most circles, and rather than being technical things, they’re more business driven outcomes. So I have a little list here. The first thing that digitally mature business do or businesses who are successful in this way, is they learn to deliver in customer outcomes. They really take that outside in approach. They put themselves in the customers shoes, and understand what it’s like for the customer, and when we were talking about Uber before, I said how they improved the process of taking a taxi journey in those different ways, and this is the thing that a lot of businesses struggle with. Rather than thinking about what’s gonna make our customers’ lives better, there’s a lot of thoughts around well how can we be more successful, how can we make more money, how can we improve profits? These kinds of things get considered and they’re no customer focused outcomes, and there’s a real key here where you can spot businesses that get it, and businesses that are still struggling or maybe need some help, and that is the metrics they use on their dashboards or scoreboards to measure success. If your metrics are aligned to customer outcomes, then it shows that you understand what is important for the customer. One of the metrics we use at Rackspace, one of the key ones is net promoter score. That NPS, the ultimate question, would you recommend us to a friend or family member? And it really is seen as a shining light of successful businesses who customer focused approach. There’s an ISP in the UK here. It’s Virgin Media. So one of Richard Branson’s spin off companies. The whole business from top to bottom is metric done NPS, and everyone’s bonus. So from the CEO right down to the cleaners or the staff who work in the canteen are all metriced on NPS. So everyone’s pulling in the same direction. Everyone understands the value of delivering that great customer experience.

    DC: The culture piece, that’s one of the things that it’s hard to shift if you don’t have a culture built on it, and it takes that concerted effort of putting it at the forefront, saying the customer outcome is the most important thing, and we’re gonna find the best way to measure it, and we’re gonna be sure that it’s front and center. A lot of times you’ll see this shift in a culture where a new metric comes up or some new goal and target, and it has to continually be reset as the focus, and so I love that we’re talking about digital transformation with these other components that are really necessary for digital transformation that may not be maybe on the nose digitally focused, but have that result if done well.

    MB: And you know what, we kinda take it for granted at Rackspace. We use NPS all the time, not just with our customers but internally. So if I’m doing a training session with the sales guys, they will NPS me and that goes into my feedback to my boss. That way of measuring things, you take it for granted but a lot of companies don’t use it, and aren’t aware of it. So there’s definitely some education to be done there as well. So the second of the four pillars I have around digitally mature businesses is so you’re focused on customers, that’s number one in the list. Focusing on improving employee collaboration and I suppose the efficiency of your workforce is the second one. The classic story and again, this kind of reflects what we have at Rackspace. You have a great culture, and it’s a real cliche to say it, but it’s from the top down. So everyone believes it and it’s right from the senior leadership all the way down. So you have a great place to work, good benefits, happy well motivated staff provide better customer outcomes and customer experiences, and if you improve collaboration and tools and all those sort of things that you kinda take for granted a lot of the time. I’m sure a lot of us work for companies and you can book your annual leave through an app, or a web browser, or a claim expense receipts, or those kind of things, or pick benefits. Not every company has that. A lot of companies you still have to fill out paper forms and there’s still these cumbersome ways that just make like a little bit harder for everyone, and if you free your employees to be able to do what they do best and make it enjoyable, then that improves the situation for everyone.

    DC: Yeah I think one of the ways that Rackspace really focuses on that is being a strength based company, and looking to maximize the amount of time that individual employees use practicing the things that they are best at, and that they deliver the most value on, and building teams that can cover for each other so that you may have a vast array of talents on that team that we may be really good at one thing and poor at another but you’ve got somebody on your team who covers your weakness while you cover theirs with your strength. And in doing so, you end up with that generally better results because you have people who are working in their sweet spot day in and day out on teams built with that in mind. So not something that everyone does but something that does seem to be a growing trend and that Rackspace has been really intentional about setting up. That’s one of the things that I think of in that vein that has been invaluable to our company in trying to remain on the forefront of a digital world.

    MB: Yeah and particularly as we’re in a time now where a lot of us have smartphones with our work email on or you take work home or do things outside the traditional nine to five. People answer emails when they’re on vacation and those kind of things. There’s working outside of work. Your home life is much more merged than it used to be. It’s not going to the factory, doing the job, coming home. I think to have a great, a quality of life associated work and enjoying it. Not seeing to be a chore is a great thing, and it’s definitely a change for the better. Being digitally successful isn’t just about having a great business but being great to employees. I guess making everyone’s life better as well. So the third pillar of digital success, and we’re nearly there guys, bear with me, is to digitally enable or digitally enhance products and services. Using technology to improve those offers you have to customers, and maybe looking at addressing customers in a way that they want. So whether that’s using mobile technology, apps and services that make it easier for people to consume. I think that the great example of this is the Kindle eBook Reader that Amazon launched that completely revolutionized how a lot of people not only consume books, but how they get delivered to them. To be able to have things wirelessly downloaded and not have to go to a store or get something delivered is a huge change. So technology enabling products and services for people to consume is another thing. And you know what, that might be as simple as if you’re a B2B organization. That order form your customer normally faxes over to you. You have an online portal where they can fill it out and you can make it easier and make those iterative improvements and make that online experience for them better. It really ties into that first one as well. Thinking like a customer. What can make a customer’s life easier and then using technology to really smooth things out and make those transactions and engagements as seamless as possible.

    AB: Yeah that’s a great way to do it to kind of, as the old saying goes, eat your own dog food, and try to figure out what’s going on and how is this, so think like the customer. Think about things through their eyes, through their experience, and figure out what does our average customer go through whenever they engage with our product. Whenever they create an order. Are we asking them to find that one fax machine that’s still left working in the building, or do we create a digital portal where they can come in and create that order, and by the way, one of the nice things about that is once you have that digital portal going that allows your customers to order online, a lot of times those are hooked into some really great backend inventory solutions and invoicing solutions, and you start to put all of those together and now your company’s able to, a lot more effectively, run their business. When all of those systems are connected and talking to each other.

    MB: When your customers get to go to one place to audit all of their interactions. You could even go to a point where you’re setting up scheduled deliveries instead of having to go in and order every time, you’re able to see pretty quickly, well it looks like every six weeks we order the same thing. Let’s set it up for reoccurring and not have to think about it again, and all of the sudden that’s more valuable to your consumer and it’s automatic money you can project your future earnings on. Well we’ve got X number of customers who have got it set up to pay us every X number of days, and so we know how to plan better now because we have that done. So there’s trickle down effect of integrating different components and thinking like your customer, become incredibly powerful as you think of it as a wholistic view instead of, that fax machine’s not gonna last much longer, and the guy who services it looks like he’s about ready to retire, so maybe we should fix that whole thing. You can see value realised by making a change and then seeing how that change can improve the next thing and how the overlap really amplifies the impact of the work you’re doing.

    AB: They’re all building on each other and so we’ve gone through three of them. Let’s hear that fourth one.

    MB: I was gonna say, guys it’s like you set me up for the forth one the way you were talking there, and it leads quite nicely in. The fourth one is, by adopting business process improvement. So more agile ways of working. Automating business processes that were perhaps manual, and again, look at really how the business works and how those workflows plan out. I know I’ve met with a couple of customers who’ve done this where they’ve got all the different teams from their businesses in a room and they map out what they do in clear processes, and it’s amazing how many people, or how many companies haven’t gone through this exercise. You can imagine the scene. A room with sticky post-it-notes all over one wall where everyone’s written down what they do, and then you get someone in from purchasing and he’s like, oh hang on a sec, I do the same thing that this guy does, and there’s a repeated thing, or to place an order with a certain supplier you have to go through five different approvals where actually hang on, these three guys always say yes. Why are they doing it? So understanding the real mechanisms, the behind the scenes things that make your business work and looking to improve them is that fourth pillar of success and these are kind of the four things that make you a more successful organization I suppose. And as we go through this, I’ve been having conversations with the CIAs and talking about things like digital strategy and now people are saying, well actually, digital strategy’s not so much a separate thing. This talking about digital is really business strategy but digitizing it, or taking technology and super charging your business and your overall business strategy by doing it. We talk about digital now, and it’s a thing. I guess it’s still fairly new, but this is really the norm now for businesses who start. I assure if you went and talked to startups in Silicon Valley, they wouldn’t say, oh yeah we’re a digitally mature organization. That’s the default. This is becoming the default now. So everyone has catching up to do.

    AB: Well yeah it’s interesting. You’re talking about this transformation. Obviously there’s not a need for a transformation if you were kinda born into this digital age, but there’s a lot of companies. You mentioned earlier that the highest paid person opinion. The person that’s been around forever and says this is the way that we’ve always done it, and that’s a really tough thing to do. I get into that every once in a while too. Hey we’ve always done it this way. When you have this legacy of the way that you’ve always done it you have to really remember A, technology is changing so fast, is there anyway that we can eliminate these redundancies, anyway that we can eliminate these processes, merge them, make them more digital and automated? Once you start doing that, then you can really become to that maturity that you’re talking about.

    DC: Well I mean there’s all sorts of things that just change, and if you continue doing it the way you’ve always done it, you’ll be missing out. I think about my grandmother. She grew up on a farm where they physically grew their food, and then when she had kids, it was at a point where there’s grocery stores, and those grocery stores grew bigger. You didn’t have to go to the meat market, and the produce market, and the grocery store. You could go to one place, and I just sent her an invite to Blue Apron, and now she can stay home and there’s a box of food that shows up at her door with the recipe, everything that she needs, no waste. And these are because the options continue to change, and doing the same thing, putting food on the table, looks incredibly different today and can look incredibly different today, if you choose to. You don’t have to grow everything that you eat in your yard and do all the harvesting and the planting and all that stuff because there’s other options. You can, you’re welcome to, but the efficiency that you gain by having food delivered to your door, the meal plan already there, and just be able to go execute against it, or I mean even delivery pizza. That’s another example of ways that we’ve completely altered the way we approach a very fundamental part of our life. That staying up to date on the options available allow you to save time, money, effort, energy all over the place, and business is no different, and being able to see broadly the tools available can really change the way you approach your business, and it is just strategy with an eye towards all of these digital tools, and the potential that’s there waiting to be unlocked. I think there’s a lot of examples that you can look at in your life. Things that have changed in your lifetime to the better, and business is really no different, and we’re here to help enable customers to get fuller advantage of that ecosystem of potential that’s out there.

    MB: Yeah Drew I love that example of your grandma. For me, you can kinda sum all this up by looking at it in one simple way, and I’ve come to this understanding that time is this commodity that you really can’t buy anymore of. No matter how rich you are, the one thing you can’t do is, actually it’s a pretty morbid thought. Bear with me on this one. You can’t extend the period of time you’re on the planet for. We’re not in RoboCop two territory where you can be brain in a jar yet.

    AB and DC: Yet.

    MB: That commodity is limited and people start to see value in being able to save time now. It’s not just about it being cheaper. Sometimes people are willing to pay a bit more to save a bit of time because then, like your example with the food, they’ve got more leisure time available to them to do the things that they wanna do, and that talk about how good life is now compared to years ago. I think that’s the key benefit. I really think that’s the key.

    AB: Well yeah you’re right. That is one of the things. It’s the constant that we measure things against is time, and it is the same for everybody, and it’s one of those things that we’ve always been trying to get more of is more time. As new technologies come along, some people will decry them because they change the way that we work together and we do certain things, but at the same time, it allows us to do additional tasks. To focus on working in different ways, and that’s very powerful. I think it’s gonna be a great force for good to change the way that we are able to spend our free time. Which will, I think, become more and more available to us as we consolidate some of these tasks.

    DC: Absolutely, there’s a lot of things we can do today with our time that we couldn’t do a couple years ago.

    AB: Absolutely. Take an Uber or whatever it’s gonna be.

    DC: While you’re taking Uber. You don’t have to drive.

    AB: You don’t have to drive.

    DC: You can take an Uber.

    AB: Yeah you can work on something.

    DC: Take your email and all kinds of other good stuff.

    AB: Read a novel, whatever you’re doing. You can do all type of stuff. That’s great. Well hey Mike, while we get ready to wrap it up, I know you’re not big on predictions, but how about this? If somebody came to you and said, hey Mike, I really wanna talk to you about my business, about getting us ready to go for this digital age. What can we do to become more digitally mature? What are some of the very first things that you would recommend for that business owner?

    MB: Oh, that’s a great question. How I engage our customers and help them, I have this, kind of like a 12 questionnaire that I typically start with. It leads into a workshop where we discuss digital maturity. There’s so much information online. There are so many great resources to look at where to start. I really recommend the blog that McKenzie Write on digital. There’s some great resources on there, and particularly for me, and I know we mentioned it, and it does sound like this dreadful business cliche, so I feel awful repeating it, but it’s something that’s gotta come from the top. It’s gotta have an executive sponsor right at the top of the company who’s interested in doing it. When you work in sort of silos and small teams and you try and make change. You can demonstrate business improvements, that’s fine, but to have that mandate from the top of the business to want to change and to try and evolve, that for me would be top of the list. It’s gotta really come from sponsorship from the executive. And you know what, this is something we see. At Rackspace we did some research with Forester at the start of 2016 where we asked a load of senior executives about digital maturity in their businesses. It was so interesting. So the first question on the survey was, is your business digitally mature and do you have a well communicated digital strategy for change? And 80% of executives answered yes. They thought they were a digitally matured business, but being the clever analyst that they are, Forester went and asked them a bunch of follow up questions about how their business is organized, how they measure success, what metrics they use, about their view on customers, and how they make change in their business as well, and they plotted it on a grid. They took all these results and they put their customer responses in different categories, and actually only about 11% of people who answered were in that, what they would call digitally mature organizations or highly successful digital organizations. So sometimes there’s this appearance of digital. Which is a big red haring. We’ve got a digital app, we’ve got an iPhone app or an Android app, or we have a website that customers can use. Therefore we’re digital. There’s a lot more to it than that, and I think with our conversation today, talking about the different pillars in the organization. Sometimes those nontechnical things, understanding the process, helping people work better together is really what the whole story is about.

    DC: The one thing I would add to that is a bit of a cautionary tale. The value I think in having someone in senior leadership as a champion of digital maturity. If it’s not done, then you will have departments that say, we’re moving forward, we’re gonna adopt Slack and we’re gonna adopt these other tools that are gonna be really useful for us, and then you likely will have another department that says we’re gonna be mature and they’re gonna adopt HipChat and they’re gonna adopt these other tools that do the same thing, and then you don’t have a coherent approach and you don’t get the value of being able to, even simple things like economies of scale or on licensing but also being able to integrate these tools well together to get the most value out of them, and so having a champion that’s high enough in their ranks to see these different processes getting stated will be able to shepherd them in one coherent direction instead of having all of these little bits and pieces crop up that you then have to correct and consolidate and work through. You can grow from one clear view. That’s something that I tend to see a lot. When you see a company that says, yes we are digitally mature, or we’re moving quickly that direction. You have multiple departments having multiple views on what that looks like instead of one champion that’s giving a clear call towards the real direction of the business.

    MB: And one of the things that those digital experts all did that we uncovered from the Forester report was they either set up a center of excellence or they take a cross functional approach to their digital change. People from all different departments. It’s not just someone from IT, it’s not just someone from marketing, but someone from finance to understand how to make payments work better and invoicing and those sort of things. Someone from operations and build expertise from across those teams hopefully helps to eliminate some of those problems that you identify Drew.

    AB: Yeah that’s great advice. Great advice. Well hey mike we’re coming up on the end of the hour here. So we’re gonna go ahead and wrap it up here, but thank you very much for spending an hour out of you evening in London with us, and we really appreciate that. Again, I mean you just have such great insights and it’s a great way for us to share these insights in a way that we don’t always get to do. So thank you again for spending this time with us.

    MB: It was my pleasure. I can’t believe it’s gone so quickly. It feels like 10 minutes.

    AB: It does.

    MB: The commodity, the time, it’s been away from us.

    AB: What’s going on with time here? So we’ll definitely have to have you back on again. You are definitely a fount of knowledge around this topic, so we wanna make sure that we have all of our, every opportunity, we wanna extend to you to come back and join us again.

    MB: Thanks guys, thank you very much.

    DC: on the table to do this again.

    AB: All right well we’ll go ahead and get it wrapped up here. Thank you again Mike, and thanks everybody for watching. We do this every week here at about one o’clock Central Standard Time. You can find this episode and other episodes at That’s where you can go and take a look at some of our back episodes. You can also subscribe to an audio only podcast if you just wanna check us out while you’re driving, while you’re working out, however you listen to podcasts.

    DC: Listen to us at double speed while you’re working out.

    AB: Yeah exactly, ‘cause time, you don’t have that much.

    DC: Yeah, there’s only so much.

    AB: There’s only so much time. Yes you could do that, and if you’re watching in the future, you didn’t have a chance to ask us a question live on the air, go ahead and just drop us a line. There’s plenty of ways to reach out to us. Just drop us a comment wherever you came across this video, and we’d be happy to answer your question for you down the road. Mike, if someone wants to get in touch with you to do a little bit more consultation on digital transformation, how can they do that?

    MB: So I’m on LinkedIn. If you search for Mike Bainbridge. In fact if you just search for Mike Bainbridge on Google I think my LinkedIn profile comes up top, and I’m active omin social media, on Twitter as well. So I’m \@dgtl for digital Mike. So dgtlMike. And again, if you search for me I should be one of those top hits.

    AB: Yeah absolutely. So if you’re one of our customers, if you’re interested in being one of our customers, Mike might be the one that’s helping you out with your digital transformation. On that note, I guess we’ll go ahead and say thanks for watching and we’ll see everybody next week. Bye everybody.

    MB: Thanks.

    2017-01-16 #Rackspace #Digital Transformation #Digital