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What If Jim and Kim Answered Your Burning Questions?

In this episode, Jim and Kim discuss questions submitted by listeners. How do companies stay on top of digital trends? Tune in to this week’s episode to find out the answers to your burning questions!

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Special thanks to our Perficient colleagues JD Norman and Rick Bauer for providing the music for today’s show.

Episode 37: What If Jim and Kim Answered Your Burning Questions? - Transcript

Jim (00:00):

Everyone knows about sort of fraud, protection. But, along with fraud is risk. Everyone's aware of the market crash back in the US in 08, 09. That was a risk management failure. So, what are we doing in terms of transparency? How is digital in AI getting into sort of the forensics and the predictive modeling that come from looking at a really complex portfolio of investments, right? I think all those things are starting to come through in terms of targets for digital transformation.

Jim (00:39):

Welcome to What If? So what? The podcast where we ask what's possible with digital and figure out how to make it real in your business. I'm Jim Hertzfeld.

Kim (00:39):

And I'm Kim Czopek.

Jim (00:50):

I'm glad you decided to listen to this episode because today we're going to do something different: listener feedback. This is a podcast about you and your business, but this entire episode is dedicated to answering your questions.

Kim (01:02):

Yes, Jim. We asked for your questions, and we got some great ones. We're excited to tackle a few of them in today's episode. So, let's dive in and give you our thoughts on your thoughts.

Kim (01:14):

So Jim, one of the first types of questions we got was around how you stay ahead of emerging digital trends. So, what do you think? Can you share some insights on how companies can stay ahead of digital trends?

Jim (01:27):

Well, it’s a million-dollar question. We hear this all the time, every day. What's new? What's out there? What have you done? What do I have to worry about? This is something I think people in technology have been doing from the beginning, right? It's one of those industries where every day there's something new, right? There's a story. There's FOMO, fear of missing out, what's going to overtake me? Right? It's just a whole industry that's been desaturated in disruption type. Not to overuse that word, but, people getting displaced, and things get taken out. There's a strong motivation to stay ahead. So, I love the question. I think it's just part of our jobs in a way.

Kim (02:06):

It's what we do every day, right? I mean, how do we stay on top of things? How do you stay on top of digital trends?

Jim (02:12):

Yeah. I was going to say companies do it to stay ahead because their teams and employees are doing it. Right. So how do we do it individually? I'll share just my personal sources, you know, not that they're a big reveal here, but kind of funny because I find out something new literally every day, as a news reader. I love Flipboard. I feel like I've curated it. It knows me. There are a lot of newsfeeds out there. I remember Pocket. It was pretty good. These algorithms are really good because, unlike other feeds, they aren’t just trying to sell you things. There's a little more organic flow to it. I think Reddit is great. It can be a mess.

Kim (02:52):

It is.

Jim (02:53):

In a lot of ways, my obsession that really took off during lockdown is YouTube. It's amazing. I don’t know what motivates people to put certain videos out there. It is a great source and honestly, Google's done a pretty good job on the algorithm. Its advertiser driven, but it's pretty good at kind of getting to know you and what your interests are. I found in terms of just every day, finding something that's going to trigger a thought, you have to have your go-to, you know, feeds and sources. Those are pretty good. I think some of the old-school things, user groups I think are making an odd comeback. I see this in different cities.

Kim (03:33):

Oh yeah. Everyone wants to be in person again. They’re showing up and it's great.

Jim (03:37):

Exactly. I was going to make that part of it too. I think conferences are back and Kim, you were just at Adobe Summit. I was just at NRF. People are hungry and they want to talk. They want to show and tell. I still think conferences are a great place to go and everybody knows this. If you go to a big conference there are going to be two venues, maybe two levels, right? If you've ever been to the Javits Center in New York, you have the expo hall that costs a lot of money. You have to go to the basement. You have to go to the cheap seats because that's where the hungry up-and-comers are. Everybody who's into a conference knows that. I think the in-person, user groups, conferences, and any kind of peer network, I actually think LinkedIn is a pretty good source. There are people excited to share what's going on. I think that's a lot of passive listening, that you have to curate your own sources.

Kim (04:25):

You too. Yes.

Jim (04:26):

I think actively, we've talked about this before in other episodes, you have to think about, “Why does an emerging trend or technology matter?” A lot of people get stuck in the “I have to reinvent my world, or I have to blow something up.” We always go back to the innovator’s dilemma and recognize that there's a range of innovations, right? There are sustainable innovations that are just improving what you do today. Disruptive ones get all the hype, but you have to think about innovation in terms of how it's going to be applied. I just think that's a great approach. Of course, we have an approach called Now, New, Next, that we're excited about it. I'm not going to go into that here, but the active part to me then is experimentation. You have to be hands-on; you know? We're not going to talk about Chat GPT in this episode. I think there's enough chat about it. But get out there and figure it out. Find a team, find a couple of hours a week where you or your team can be hands-on. You have to try it. There's just, to me, there's no substitute for that firsthand understanding.

Kim (05:31):

I think that's great. Somebody asked me recently how I stay on top of particular trends in commerce, and honestly, at first, I was like, I don't know, but then I realized, to your point, no, I've set up a bunch of different Google alerts. I subscribe to a lot of newsletters for that industry. Yes, conferences for sure. I ended up sending this person 10 different sources that over time I've accumulated and realized that I really rely on those outlets to get information. But yes, as an individual, it's one thing as a as a company. You have to have a framework around it to try and figure out what matters to the business.

Jim (06:16):

I wanted to mention that too. I mean, there's a famous book years ago called Crossing the Chasm that gets into, what's going to make it, what's worthwhile, you know? You have to be active about that, and you can't take on every emerging trend. Some of them, there's no application, some of them just don't cross the chasm, right? They don't make it. There's not enough buy-in or maybe they were ahead of their time. So, I do think I agree. Organizations have to have a funnel for emerging technology and innovation. It's an active process. So, Kim, we should share our favorite links, and newsletters, in the show notes. Let's go ahead and do that.

Kim (06:51):

Oh, that's a great idea.

Jim (06:52):

Alright, Kim, we've got another one. This is a common question we get and sometimes it's looking at what goes wrong, but we wanted to really phrase it this way and I'll let you start. Kim, can you share examples of successful digital transformations we've seen and what were the key factors that contributed to their success?

Kim (07:10):

Yes, this is a great question and yes, we live and breathe digital transformation. We're a digital transformation consultancy, so we've seen the good, bad, and ugly. As we go through what we've seen to be successful contributors, you can kind of think, oh, what's the opposite of that?

That's where we see things don't work out so well. The first thing I would say number one is leadership buy-in. Without leadership buy-in from the top, it is very difficult to get buy-in across the organization to have insight into the metrics where you're going to measure the success of the program; real investment, whether it is a capital expenditure, an operational expenditure, or real buy-in from the top. I think buy-in extends to engagement. Where we've seen the most successful transformations have been when we have the C-suite engaged in steering committee meetings and giving feedback and asking questions hands-on. I think another important success factor is realistic goals, a digital transformation is lofty, it's long-term. People can experience fatigue, so it's really important to understand what you are trying to achieve. Is it realistic, is it practical? Do that due diligence and obviously, that ties into the leadership buy-in. Then, communicate that we've talked so often in our episodes about the importance of the basics, like change management, communication, and clear and often engagement with the folks that are actually deploying the transformational activities. It just bears repeating clear communication, often communication with a very important undertone of what's in it for me. That's where you get the top-down, bottom-up, buy-in where everybody meets in the middle. Change management has to be a part of that. There has to be a better word or phrase for digital transformation. Change management's kind of the same thing. It sounds maybe boring, and scary, but all of this is encompassed in change management. You have to start with the evidence for change. A lot of companies, I think where we see them say, we need to transform digitally.  Well, what's the case for change? It's not, let's boil the ocean. It’s let's pick a few use cases that we know need to be addressed and build momentum that way. What have you seen, Jim?

Jim (09:94):

Yeah. No, I love all of those, Kim. I think the what's in it for me, I hate to be cynical, but we ask teams and individuals to do a lot. The way I look at this sometimes, you mentioned the people deploying the digital transformation, and then there are the people that have to live with the digital transformation. Right? We have a bunch of developers and then we've transformed. You operationally have to make it work. People's jobs are going to change, and they were hired for one thing and they're being asked to do something else. I think that's where really good, strong change management comes into play. Back to the evidence in the case for change, I think those go together. People need to believe that what they're doing is the right thing. It's good for them, it's good for the customer, it's good for the company, it's good for society. And I'm seeing that a lot more lately, I think just because there are a lot of skeptics out there. We're in the I don't know what generation of digital transformation we're in fourth, fifth. You know, we've been through this. They've seen it. Some of them burn out, some of them fade away.

Kim (10:58):Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Jim (10:59):

Now I got a Def Leppard song in my head. That evidence is important upfront, and then just to keep showing those changes. So, I guess the one thing I would add is we throw this phrase around there we call adoption through execution, and they have to kind of see it, that's the ultimate evidence. You can show a business case, you can show a prototype, you can look at customer research, what I love about Incremental Lean approaches is, you're back to that level of test and learn, and experimentation. I think that actions speak louder than words, so we love to see simple pilots, maybe we take a product line and sell it online, or we start with this part of the call center. We deflect that with a self-service experience. You have to kind of see it. So, I think the sooner you can start to show and tell, the more it's going to stick.

Kim (11:56):

That's a great point.

Jim (11:58):

I didn't hear anything about technology in this list, but I think we all agree, it doesn't seem to be about the technology. The technology's pretty good. There've been a couple of bad implementations, but I think that's generally not what makes it sustainable.

Kim (12:12):

No, the impetus is always the business outcome, the business goal, then along the way we determine what technology can support that. I think one of the other common questions we got related to digital transformation was kind of taking it to that next level about how you see it applying in specific industries. So, Jim, what role do you see digital technology playing in shaping the future of industries like healthcare and finance and other industries that maybe are a little bit behind in digital transformation?

Jim (12:46):

I love the industry question, Kim, for two reasons. One is it's really getting into the industry or going through the industry lens; you're really drilling down into what makes the business unique, in my opinion. I learned this years ago. Take the grocery category, a lot of people think of the grocery category as their secret sauce, as in fresh produce, making it look good, and putting it in the right place. It's just sort of this shopping experience. It is, but the way that you get fresh produce is from an amazing supply chain and distribution network, right? That's not an accident. When you really kind of peel back the layers of some of these industries, a lot of grocers think of themselves as supply chain and distribution companies. Nike famously thinks of itself today, and I think it's true as a marketing and brand company, they're not a shoe, you know? They design shoes, but they're really a brand company first, you know? I think when you start to unpack what it means to be in an industry, you're getting to what really makes the business run, you're getting to the real outcome. First of all, I love that lens in the beginning. The other thing I like about industries is that we find a lot of our clients, they want to know what their peers are doing, but as soon as they kind of get our sense of that. They want to know what their peers outside of the category are doing. I think healthcare and financial services are great landing points. I think when it comes to digital, both of those industries are really driven by regulatory and compliance concerns. They're two of the most regulated industries on the planet, for good reason, right? You know, safety, keeping things above board. Lives are literally on the line. So, I think that's certainly driving a lot. I think technology's always going to play. The investment is almost always going to be driving things like price transparency in healthcare, right? There are regulations that are forming, this is a long time coming by the way, but price transparency is going to be a regulatory concern. You know, take payments and I think it's an ISO standard around payments that are coming out to make them more real-time, more auditable, more consistent metadata, these are clear digitization plays that are really tied to really hardcore specific industry issues. We talk about one of the elements of financial services is everyone knows about sort of fraud protection. Along with fraud, is risk. Everyone's aware of the market crash back in the US in ‘08, and ‘09. That was a risk management failure. What are we doing in terms of transparency? How is digital in AI getting into sort of the forensics and the predictive modeling that come from looking at a really complex portfolio of investments, right? I think all those things are starting to come through in terms of targets for digital transformation, and I can't forget consumerization. Kim, I know you hear this a lot, your background is what a lot of healthcare providers want to hear about.

So, I think all those things are at the forefront. There are a lot of, I would say new use cases, but again, I think the industry lens overall is just it's music to my ears when we get to talk about it. You're kind of digging into solving these real business problems.

Kim (16:24):

Yeah, absolutely. I think we've said it before, but this notion of new behavior drives new technology, drives new behavior, drives new technology. These industries can't ignore that trend anymore. To your point, we're talking a lot about consumerization and healthcare because the end consumers of whatever services that are being provided are looking across their digital experiences and saying like, what the heck? Why, why do I have to fax something in?

Jim (16:56):

Yeah, what is this?

Kim (16:59):

We're seeing that in healthcare. We're seeing it in automotive. They're, you know, the, a lot of industries are finally getting pushed to make these investments because they won't remain viable otherwise.

Jim (17:12):

Oh, that is the virtuous circle, flat circle. I hear the term flat circle a lot, right? So, you just laid it out: behavior, technology, behavior. The flat circle.

Kim (17:22):

Well, that wasn't me. That was Clay Sharky, but yes, yes. Right.

Jim (17:27):

Yeah, we're here to start inventing hokey hashtag titles for digital. You're welcome. Well, great, Kim. I thought this is a great set of questions and the first time we've done it, and I'm looking forward to doing it again.

Kim (17:45):

Yeah, we'll make sure to add into our show notes our contact information. If you have any other questions that you'd like us to tackle, please send us a note.

Jim (17:54):

And until then or next time, please keep asking what if, so what? And most importantly, now what?

Jay (18:00):

You've been listening to What If? So What? The Digital Strategy Podcast from Perficient with Jim Hertzfeld and Kim Czopek. We want to thank our Perficient colleagues, JD Norman and Rick Bauer for our music today. Subscribe to the podcast, and don't miss a single episode! You can find this season along with show notes at

Thanks for listening.