CXO Deep Dive | CTO-Tracey Hamilton

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How is your industry preparing for an AI-Centric world?

We aren’t preparing, we are fully immersed in it. From Conversational AI to predictive eCommerce funnels it’s an exciting time to do the work we do, and wonderful to be engaging in real briefs, after what feels like a very long runway.  

How do you pick the right partners to accelerate digital transformation?

Openness, willingness to collaborate, humility and ability to own decisions and mistakes, plus the ability to get hands on and dig in. No interest in passengers, or partners who see transformation as a “job function” or “department” – transformation is a verb, that means actually doing stuff not just talking about it.  

What are the top challenges in your business transformation process?

Humans. The main inhibitions to business transformation are the same as any change process – the beliefs, attitudes, cultures, past experiences and future expectations of people in the process present more challenges to scoping, executing and adopting than any other challenge you could name (including budget!).  

How can companies ensure “customer-centricity” across mobile devices as they digitally transform?

By starting with a culture of customer fluency. My dear friend and industry UX guru, Daylon Soh (who is a champion of customer experience) coined this term, and I’ve adopted it. By understanding the needs and wants of your most important customers, you’re more likely to deliver a relevant and valued experience to customers wherever they meet your brand – on mobile, on the web, in store or in person!  

Do you expect certain uses of technology to decline after the pandemic?

I’m hopeful that as the world comes out of intensive lockdown that people will back away from their screens, unplug and return outside the the world. Although Netflix and social media have provided us great comfort, distraction and connection, there’s nothing more magical and restorative than the IRL world.  

What are the biggest changes you expect in how industries will operate in the future?

The most fantastic outcome of COVID-19, has been the (somewhat painful but incredibly useful) experience of pivot to work from anywhere. My husband, Damian Hamilton – a Cloud thought leader, wrote a paper on “iWorkers” almost 10 years ago and it’s exciting to watch adoption of behaviour surface in such a significant way. Distributed workforce provides scaling firms with the potential to attract and hire the most extraordinary talent wherever they choose to be. (Obviously there’s some practical employee labour laws, taxation issues, and more that need to be overcome, but the upside of labour mobility enabled by technology is thrilling).  

What will be the next evolution of advanced tech that we can expect in the coming years?

Haptics and Somatic Tech. 

What do you think are the biggest challenges organisations face in the adoption of disruptive technologies?

As per above. Humans. Relinquishing old habits, and learning new ones!    

How do you achieve successful change management and shifts in culture, mindset and behaviours to adopt new digital tools (especially in large organisation)?

Key to the implementation (of successful change management) is a leadership culture of openness, authentic commitment to change, that’s both endorsed, adopted and modelled by senior employees, and the benefits of which are crisply communicated consistently across the business.  

How is the way data is now being collected and shared by marketers impacting the digital transformation roadmaps in their organisations or the industry?

There continues to be a siloing of insight ie data across organisations, which when stitched together can provide incredibly rich holistic information. Data is only useful when it’s shared – that’s when it can transition to “information” – a record that can inform strategic decision making. Marketers truly open to transformation must talk to their counterparts across the entire customer ecosystem / value chain.  

For those who haven’t fully embraced the digital world, is it fundamental to future success?

It depends on the industry you operate in. 

When redesigning a business model, what is the best way to filter out the various inputs from different departments?

Rather than filter out, I’d be looking to deeply sit with the learnings and understand the merit in integration. Diverse thinking and experience provide richer insight. If you are a “consumer centric” firm undergoing a major transformation, then each node of the organisation is likely to have incredibly rich, actionable inputs from their own deep lens.  

What is the best way to incorporate agile ways of working to accelerate transformation?

By having senior leaders adopt and model behaviour. Like parenting, leading from the front is the best practice. Agile practice requires decision making at speed, the back bone of which is transparency, trust, and more. All of which are dependent on alignment and excellent communication.  

How do you maintain a powerful and sustained change?

Change happens 1 person at a time, and requires all stakeholders in the transformation journey to operate as a unit (this typically includes vast and varied business including vendors, markets and business groups). For enduring success and velocity, ongoing communication and collaboration toward the end goal is crucial.  

What do you think are the biggest challenges organisations face in the adoption of AI?

Stakeholder resistance. 

With the rise of AI, should you add in-house capabilities or outsource to specialists?

Both – it’s critical that in-house champions drive strategy, understand the fundamentals and truly hold the decision keys to the magic behind the algorithms that drive their firm’s AI. External expertise is important when it comes to emerging technical design and developments at the edge – my particular current burning interest, quantum compute, has few practitioners in most markets, but massive commercial application – so in this case, unless you’ve got access to talent, it’s sensible to partner with a specialist. 

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