Aug. 2, 2020

Foreign Connect Interview: What is digital transformation?

Foreign Connect Interview: What is digital transformation?

Ryan is interviewed by Natsune Oki from Foreign Connect

Natsune Oki from Foreign Connect interviews Ryan on 'What is Digital Transformation'.
The episode is uploaded to YouTube here
Digital Workspace Works website link
Click here for the transcript
Natsune's LinkedIn profile


Natsune Oki  0:00  
Hi everyone and welcome back to foreign Connect. Today we have a pretty interesting guest from London. His name is Ally Ryan Purvis. I hope I'm pronouncing his name correctly. He is the Chief Information Officer of a London based risk management company. He also has its own podcast where he talks a lot about digital transformation. He worked as an advisor consultant. He also right now he works as Chief Information Officer. So that being said, he has many, many experience. He said more than 20 years of experience working in the digital transformation space. So we really interesting conversation about what the digital transformation is, how it's done and implemented, to increase their efficiency and make the business more cost effective. So I hope you learn from today's episode. So today I wanted to invite you to talk about the shows transformation because this is idea that's still pretty new to a lot of Japanese companies here. But can you kind of describe where you work right now? What have you done in your career?

Ryan Purvis  1:18  
So I'm currently the CIO for a company called hailo maritime risk. And that is a software as a service company. We offer a product to the to the shipping companies, where we take their commercially sensitive data and we transform that into actual information for using a risk model. Prior to that, I've been in banking, real estate, all of which have had this undertone of taking a business problem and using some sort of technology with people to solve it to make the business run more efficiently or more effectively. And that's really the sort of guise of digital transformation for me it is is changing the business using Something technology based to help people to do their work better.

Natsune Oki  2:05  
Nice. So I'm gonna have a more specific questions for you. So given your experience, it sounds like you had, I saw that your bio said you had already 2020 years of experience in this space. Right. So that said, I wanted to ask you, like, I assume that you probably saw the digital transformation happening in the various function within the business. So can you help us understand in what function of business can be used digital transformation, whether it's sales, marketing, whatever?

Ryan Purvis  2:41  
Yeah, I mean, I think it comes down to, to really where the problems are and a business itself, you know, the people involved in it will need to identify where their problems are. A good example was was one that I did recently, last couple years, at least, where there was an employee survey and the survey came out that they were very lodge unhappiness with internal it very bad perception. You know, there was no felt like it was no support from it, obviously, that's quite important. And that led to us building a portal that helped us get get to things a lot easier because one of the challenges was it was a very complicated environment in order to do things and, and even though the tools were digital, they weren't very user friendly and and user enabling, you almost felt like you needed to get a new degree in order to use these tools. So the idea was to build something on top of that, that made things very simple and and what does that mean practically? If you wanted to add or remove software, for your own work, it was pretty complicated format before that, probably 2730 fields that has to be captured. Which if you didn't know the answers to means you get stuck and you couldn't do anything. We replaced that with a one click button. So that's sometimes digital one summation is just about making life easier by removing complexity. Another option, or another example, at least was something added back in real estate, where a project was to provide. So the real estate business had multiple divisions, valuations, building construction, property, asset management, etc. So think of the full lifecycle of building. And what they were trying to do is optimize following a sort of a Lean Six Sigma approach where you shift the work to the least, least costing resource. And in order to do that they needed to provide some sort of technology solution. And the first step to there was an inspection tool. And the idea behind this was that if you had a valuation person or a property asset management or facilities person visiting a building, if they know what questions to ask, and they know what pictures to take, you don't need to send three different business people they you can send one business person they and they can get the same Anywhere Evernote can leverage that information and network really well. So you would have, you know, a questionnaire that would be run every week, you know questionnaire was run every month. And if we ever was there, if they were at that stage, we'd run that questionnaire regardless of what their skill set was because most these guys are professionals as certified. With the rule with whomever the name of the there was a sort of certain building certification, they had to have no nowhere to look for. And that was a really clever idea in the sense that if you had a evaluations person go there, they would get their information but they also get the other information and you'd buy by collecting it, you could enrich it with other information. So we started taking away manual work from people and using technology to solve that problem. So for example, getting map maps information or cheap status information at that time with information that Tom to enrich that data as it's been captured. So when they have to write a report Got that information in context? And then whatever analysis information that's been there as well. So very, very clever idea.

Natsune Oki  6:08  
I see. So, um, I kind of got two follow up questions to what you said. So when the company needs to identify the problem, how much did you get involved in, like finding the problem or finding the problem like, well, what is the sign for a company to know like, this is something that we can fix with this old transformation?

Ryan Purvis  6:37  
Yeah, that so that's normally under process called ideation. And what does that mean? That means basically, getting people to send you people in the businesses send ideas and all the time will complain, you know, complaints are the best way to find problems. Yeah. And the more you hear about at some point is going to be a a workshop or something that says these are the problems Hearing about how do we solve these problems. So the minute you have that starting point, you might have, you know, under 500 problems might have 10 problems, you might have five problems might have one problem. But the minute you look at that problem, it's it's how you solve it. And that how may not rely on technology, it could just be a process change, or it could be a people change. And if you if you're running out of capacity, you might just hire another person if you've got the finances to do that. Or you might look at your your process and change the sequence or all the steps in the process. So you can look at something as simple as publishing a blog. You have an idea, you research the idea and you write a piece in the editor that you posted. You could set up once you've got that idea. You might set up Google search, search words, that'll send you an email whenever it finds the articles that are most read about that. Very basic, very basic thing to do. If I go back to the inspection tool, problem As each business realized they were sending people to the same building in the same week cost associated to that they realized that if we just sent one person there and asked all the right questions, it'd be huge cost savings, you know. So there's a level of maturity curve that you go through, and, you know, solving simple problems to solve solving complicated problems. If I go to the example I gave around the survey, that was there was feedback from the business and that was sort of I don't know how many people were replied to the survey, but let's say out of out of a company of 130,000 it was a second most responded item. So you know, get a feel that the people that work in the business tell you where the problems are. And then as a leadership, you need to address the balance of the business.

Natsune Oki  8:47  
So when you work with your company, or as a consultant, like at one point, can you come in to kind of determine the problem.

Ryan Purvis  8:57  
I'm, I'm coming in from the beginning. In fact, before To come in not necessarily a day zero, where they still trying to figure out what the ideas are. But where they've reached their top 10 lists or their top five list. That's that's usually the best part for me, because at least means they've put some thought into where they want to prioritize the resources and funding. And then it goes through the whole process. And that's the take that idea and look at what the possible solutions are. And I don't come in there as I try not to at least come in here as the expert that knows all the answers. I come into trying to understand what they think the solutions would be, and challenge them to fine tune in to circle you've got five solutions. Let's Let's pick the one I want to go with based on some sort of framework. Could be cost could be complexity, it could be time to market. You know, you got to balance those things all the time. Trying to find very small snippets to work on that get you towards a vision and you The vision is very important. So in the in the inspection tool, there was just one component of multiple tools that will be tied together to take the valuations process and make that almost semi automated. So they could answer a quick so custom could phone and get financed for valuation report and the whole report generated based on all the information is already available. And then person putting the report together, all they had to do is look through that report and go occur like this. I don't like this change whatever, instead of being a six week seven week long process that can be done days in front hours. There's a huge cost save on that as well. So that's so for me, it's it's a good idea. It's a 10% in and then it's all the way through to actually building the solution and then hand the solution over to someone else to operate it.

Natsune Oki  10:52  
Hmm, I see. Well, that's that's really useful. I think that you can offer like a to z Kind of package at the one. So I said I had two questions, but you kind of answered my second question. So I'm just going to move on to the second one. The next question, which is, well, can you you kind of already mentioned this very quickly earlier, but can you give me a huge few examples of successful digital transformation?

Ryan Purvis  11:26  
The inspection tools, one of my favorites, because that, that really, I like business process optimization. And there was a really nice business process optimization problem. The example I gave you, which was around the change of perception for it, and the simplification that was really nice for a couple reasons. One, we took away the complexity of being able to do things like reset your password and the corporate order and remove software have access to your approvals because the some of the challenges we had multiple systems to do approvals in And then consolidate into one. But the other piece we added to that was gamification. So we actually scored the end users to honor behaviors within technology. So it made it more of a two way street, wherever and complain about it. But if you're part of the problem, you need to know you can solve it. So things like, you know, reboot your machine, giving back devices, you're not using, using Mac software and using those all locks increased your score in a good way. And then we had a score for the performance of the tool. And that combined score gave you your score. So so you created quite a nice feedback mechanism where the end user could feel like they were part of the solution, not just someone complaining about the problem. Some other scenarios that would be really good. In fact, now I'll talk about one that wasn't good to talk about a failure. Okay. So many years ago, I did a project with a bank, automate the marketing process. So to take, they want to take a campaign and basically from start to finish. But I never really understood the way that their organization worked. And that was a good lesson for me. And this comes back to sort of how the approach work so they knew what they needed to do that mapped out all the processes. They've been very clear and how they wanted the processes to work. The problem was the processes weren't linear. So what does that mean? If you think about a railway track with a train on it, the train can't go to the end station before it's been to the first station so it has to go station station station. Hmm. Wait, the process works is that station could go at any time. They're trying to go any direction at any time to that new thing more like a Land Rover, you know, driving on the road that goes off the road when it needs to through the dunes and through the forest to come back onto the road. And so so they call these things one is sort of the old business process management and the other one is case management. Hmm. And the lesson here was really understanding that those processes were not long process, but really small, short processes that when you tie them all together, became a long process. And that tying together like Lego blocks would work in different shapes and different ways. And the other thing to understand was the personas, so that sort of not so much the people involved. But when a person got involved in the process, you needed to know what information they needed in order to do something at that point. So if they were approving something, they would obviously know what they're approving and, and potentially the criteria that they needed to check when they were approving. So it wasn't just a blanket, just click the approve button. But if they're approving a piece of artwork, or an expense, that expense may belong to a quote. So you need to see the quote at the same time as you see an expense to see that they're aligned. And that's to save people time I'm trying to find you know, we want a quote from that vendor, quote, you know, etc. So so it was a good it was a good example in the sense that I mean, the project in the end failed. But I still walked out of there with a lot of experience. And we tried, you know, all the things we could turn around. I think the other thing we learned out of that is as much as the business had mapped out, the processes hadn't really mapped out, we hadn't really figured out the people using the tool part. Mm hmm. Very well. And that was one of the reasons why I struggled is we kept trying to put these very long processes in and we needed to really break them up.

Natsune Oki  15:32  
Mm hmm. So that's actually pretty interesting, because that makes me another question. You said that you have to have some learning curve there to write. What What qualities do you do you say, are, well, what are the things that company needs to look out for when they want to hire a good consultant like you like what what are the qualifications that we should look for

Ryan Purvis  16:00  
Well, experience is always gonna be relative. You know, if you look at my sort of career I've worked in banking, real estate. Now me chipping. And the reason why I like to move around industries is because you learn different things for different industries. It's like playing poker, you play better poker when you play against different players. I think the one thing I always look for is the ratio of listening to speaking. A good consultant will listen more than they speak. Hmm. And they will make attempt to reuse what they've learned what they've heard, in trying to understand what what in order to understand how to solve the problem. So for example, you need to learn to understand the jargon that the person, the people you're talking to speak in, and then repeat that back in a way that they go Yes, you've got to understand what problem is. And then it's about things like being big nysed and having an approach that that's clear and simple to understand as much as it can be complicated underneath that, understand this the simplest pieces to bring them along the journey.

Natsune Oki  17:13  
Hmm. I see. So, I think that well with the process being well some of those process is just transformation process. Could it be complicated like you said, right. And I think as technician or people who are knowledgeable about, about the digital transformation versus companies who don't know necessarily like what is going on, right, like there must be some communication error or communication transfer error, which kind of you address how you how you address that problem, right? By repeating and make sure that you know, you communicate with them in a very organized way and so that works, but in terms of You know, Operation execution when it comes to execution, I think that there must be some sort of like a learning curve also, like, when is the good time? Do you say like a usual companies can expect to start seeing the ROI? If that makes sense.

Ryan Purvis  18:18  
Yeah. So, so and this, and this comes back to that ideation step. So when you are looking at your list of problems and how you want to solve them, and how you're organizing it, say not solve them, but you're going to look at them and say, how important is this problem to solve? What do we believe the complexity is for that problem, and these are all relative scales, you'll just, you know, this might be a complicated problem, it might have a high value to us to resolve it. But from a timing point of view, we don't have the resource of the people to do it. So you sort of weigh these things up and then your order your, your, your, your items, when you've picked the one to go and solve In doing that, you need to do a business case of some sort. Now, it doesn't have to be a very complicated spreadsheet that takes you, you know, seven weeks to put together and figure out, it usually come back to some sort of metrics. As measures could be, man hours you're gonna save, it could be cost you're gonna save by reducing licensing. So I'll give you an example of one company I worked with, that are very expensive bill with a certain database provider, sort of half a million dollars a year, if they change their product to run on a different back end. It brought the cost down to about $100,000 a year. But the spend to do that was almost a rewrite of the entire application, which was sort of $2 million here. So the math didn't really work out initially that they would save a lot of money. And if you look at their product, their product actually wasn't worth rewriting. If that makes any sense. It was it was a very competitive data CRM tool very competitive space. No need to build another CRM tool, there's too many out there. But what they value was was the data they were working with, because of what the business was. So so the direction of travel was rather, was to leave the current product as it was to extend, it was to build this new product, which focused on the data that they had. There was an investment there, of course, and then while they were doing that, building that new product, they would take the pieces out of the old product that made sense and bring them into the new product and slowly over time, move the customers across into the new product as the as it was polarity between the two products, and they would basically at some point, turn off the old product. Now, it wasn't necessarily cleanest way of doing it. I mean, it sounds like you're juggling balls, and you are because you've got to maintain the old product or building new one. But you also to maintain your customer base because they're selling a software as a service. But that was the sort of way to do it and the return and the return on investment there was was over a couple years But if you take it into what I was saying earlier about small snippets, if you do it in small chunks of work, you can see return quite quickly, are we going in the right direction. And, and there should be a level of testing that at each step, each time you build something new need to test it. And that testing is not just functional. If I click the button does something happen, but it shows to end users and showing it to customers. You need to you need the people that can use it to give you feedback, because you might find that what you think is the most valuable piece of this technology or tool is actually not even though they actually care that that this other thing that you thought was nothing is the most important thing. So it's a consistent interaction backwards and forwards with a cycle of improvement.

Natsune Oki  21:43  
Interesting. So I'm gonna move on to the final questions that we have. Which is actually this is probably one of the biggest question for many companies not right now because I think the reason so many companies are still kind of struggling stumbling upon on the idea of like having to make this transition, but they can't necessarily take the first step is because we're scared of things that we don't know. Right. So what are the I guess my question is like, what is the difficulty Do you think businesses face when they first try to make attempts of going digital? And how can they also overcome the fear of facing these problems?

Ryan Purvis  22:30  
So there's a few things. I think the first thing has changed for a lot of people is scary. Yeah. And often some of the some of that, that changes because it's an established way of doing things and people say we've always done it this way and that sort of thing. It's actually a very nice table, which I'll try and find and send to you, which is if you're going to make change, you need to you need to meet these criteria. Things like you need to have a plan you need to communicate. You need to have a There's a list of covering off top my head right now. But, but when I've looked at it in an organization that everyone will make it a personal goal, it doesn't flicker personally. So if you start talking about changing a business process, and someone goes, but that's part of my job, that means I'm I don't have a job. Yeah, that's the communication need to be very clear to people that will actually, we're going to change process but doesn't mean you lose your job, it means we're going to retrain you to do this new way. In fact, a lot of the time, you're part of changing how you want us to be. So when I when I worked for one of the software vendors, we used to call it the persona approach, and used to go and sit with the person in the process and look at how they worked every day. So they use these tools. Let's say it's accounts payable. So accounts payable means if an invoice comes in, they need to check the invoice details correct and it's allocated to the supplier and they need to say if it's approved or not following some sort of process, and then once that's done, it'll get approved and paid. Now when you look at how they work, If you're looking to see things like do they use the system all the way through? Or do they use other systems while they work, so they might have this process where they're looking at the documents, but that could be checking a Excel spreadsheet for list of codes to see if they got the right coding for the invoice, they might be looking at another system like a CRM system to see if they've got the right details for the customer. They might be checking the bank and details. All those things might be in different systems. They might have post it notes up with all the tips and tricks to get around the system. Because then often happen. And when you look at solving this solution with a decision, this might be changing certain things, not necessary changing the whole technology. You need to encompass that in your solution. So when you make the people part of that process, and they actually feel like they are part of the solution, your change issues are a lot less. The communication is key and all this and, and it's an honest communication. It's saying I don't know I don't know what the answer to this problem is. How would you solve it and letting them solve it. If you ever read Simon Sinek it's speaking last you let everyone else talk and then you talk at the end. So that preconceived things and, and often it's about having the senior people out of the room, while the people at the coalface so they can talk openly and honestly and it might be one to one etc. The other pieces, you do need that executive sponsorship, if you're going to change the way your whole business works, you need to know that the executive is sponsoring that and they bought into that. And as a what's as that sponsor, it's more than just being a figurehead and ambassadors sort of making big speeches and stuff like that. You need to have someone in there that really has the vision of where it needs to go to an admission is important because otherwise you have no way to target and then that's slowly how you do it. And it's gonna be it's gonna be slow and then as people buy into those, it'll pick up momentum and it's balancing Have a bit of where are we now versus where do we need to be? So that you can keep directing and slightly adjusting the team as they go forward to make sure they're hitting the target.

Natsune Oki  26:11  
Let's see. Oh, um, so lastly, before I let you go, can you tell us where people can find you and whatever social media you have, like,

Ryan Purvis  26:23  
Joe, so I'm on LinkedIn, you can find me at Ryan Purvis. It's probably the best one and then on Twitter as Ryan Purvis. And then I also have a podcast digital workspace works, which you can find on Twitter, as well as the DW w podcast where you can find the podcast itself on iTunes and Spotify, etc, etc.

Natsune Oki  26:48  
Sounds good. Well, thank you very much for coming onto my show today.

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Natsune Oki

Managing Director

Natsune is the author of The Game of Self-Domination and the host of LifeUpEducationTV. She is also the managing director of Having built her life up from nothing multiple times—including being almost a kicked out high school student in Japan — NaNa has not only gone on to finish her University education in Business and Economics in the United States as a foreigner, but she’s worked with hundreds of innovators, entrepreneurs, and next-generation thinkers in Seattle. Despite her young age, she’s helped dozens of CEOs and young start-up founders skyrocket their successes – all while building her own online businesses on the side.