I was with a client yesterday and drew attention to a recent article Two-Speed IT: A Linchpin for Success in a Digitized World from BCG Perspectives on how some organisations are being forced split in two with the pressure of the internet. The BCG paper describes a “two-speed IT” – but in many ways, the IT is only part of it – and BCG have taken the two-speed analogy far further with other thoughts on organisations, economies and governments.
It would appear that, in order to survive, successful organisations now need to have (at least) two speeds or engines within in them. One is there to cope with traditional “industrial speed” business and the other need to cope with innovation and customer interactions at “digital speed”.
There is no finer example than Telefonica-O2 – which has recently split itself in to two companies. One which manages the more traditional “industrial” network and handset business. The second (called Telefonica Digital) was set up to manage innovation and all the different aspects of interconnecting the network business to new technologies and services.
I’m with O2 – and it was disappointing that even after splitting itself in two, the industrial part of the business, they still managed to knock-out my service for 24 hours in the early summer. Even more reason to believe in the importance of creating and adapting organisations so that they can take both the expected and unexpected demands placed upon them.
A better example of success is probably BT’s execution of the Olympic Games. I am sure the stories will start to come out in the next few months, but I heard at a conference recently that there were over 50 severe attacks on the Olympic Network that could have brought it down – had BT not had the right protection in place. In the industrial network game, true success normally means not failing!
As many of you know, I like to draw analogies, and I thought that this client that I was working with had a problem of shifting from first gear to second gear. Somehow, they had all the parts to make very solid machines for the industrial age, but they were not thinking of designing and creating smaller, lighter, more nimble components to put in the small engines of the digital age (for new organisations such as Telefonica Digital). To use a truck-car analogy, they were still assembling large-scale gearboxes for big trucks – (where each component takes days and weeks to manufacture and assemble) – whilst missing the market opportunity to provide new, smaller gearboxes (or even components) that will allow emerging digital organisations to engage with the bigger industrial engines of the past.
These new gear boxes are going to be smaller, cheaper and faster to assemble. It might even require a new, separate organisation to design, market and support them. The possibilities were very interesting.
So I was charmed by the Queen of Coincidence, when, whilst I was preparing for the client presentation, a good friend, Jo, sent me this brilliant recording of a telephone conversation between a guy who has just bought a BMW with a “wonky gearbox” – Listen and enjoy!
Sometimes we simply get this whole technology thing completely wrong by not reading the instruction manual!