Markedu meet with Jorge Carrola Rodrigues to find out the state of digital transformation in Portugal and Europe in comparison with the rest of the world.
Jorge Carrola Rodrigues is an invited lecturer at NOVA IMS, Information Management School and coordinator member of the “Digital Enterprise Management” Post-Graduation. His research for PhD relates to the “SaaS applications impact in Firm Performance”.
He holds several post-graduations in Marketing and Management from AESE/IESE, Kellogg School of Management, ISTUD and an Engineering degree from Instituto Superior Técnico in Lisbon.
Since the late 80´s/early 90´s, has been involved in Business Development, Marketing and Management for Microsoft, RedUnicre, Philips and Olivetti Solutions.
Jorge managed the launch the business of Microsoft CRM Online in Portugal till 2013 and, for Microsoft Western Europe, wrote and produced “CRM for Dummies” minibook (Wiley edition available for download in here). Since 2013, he also holds board management positions at IAMCP-International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners and APPM-Marketing Professionals Association.
In the last 15 years, he has also been a business advisor, invited lecturer for several courses and coordinator of Marketing Management Masters at IPAM – Instituto Português de Administração de Marketing.
How do you describe the digital transformation in Portugal? What´s involved in this process, who’s involved and which are the benefits in the context of its national market?
Digital transformation is now commonly used by most of the suppliers in the area of information systems, marketing agencies, consultants and organisations, referring most of the times to projects that involve new technologies, in some cases only an application to automate existing processes or practices.
The terminology is rapidly getting common when in reality it should be strictly acquired only by organisations that are using digital technologies to change the way they conduct businesses according to customer-centric business models.
If management focuses on the technology and loses the sight that the real important focus is the business and its customers, from where it should create strategies and new business models that use technology and digitalization as an enabler, then in the former case we are not speaking about digital transformation but only in automation.
I see a parallel with the late 80’s, early 90’s when we were speaking about automation of existing processes versus business process re-engineering.
Now digital transformation brings the capability for companies as small as start-ups to be present in the global market, sell products or services as if they were local companies, even if we are speaking of a company that is located somewhere in Portugal and makes real-time business in US or Russia.
Digital transformation also opens up possibilities for disruption in traditional business models, as we have assisted in the areas of transportation and hospitality, to name a few and more evident, taking also the opportunity of a change in the mindset of consumers which evolved from a consumption based economy (“my goods”) into a sharing economy where they want to be able to maximize usage of goods they own and get some return at the same time that there are consumers looking for alternatives and sensible to sustainability issues.
Somehow related, is also the notion of the serviceability of goods that is associated with this digital transformation, where you tend to adapt to this concept of using and paying only for what you use and not for an overcapacity that you own.
This is also changing the landscape from a production based economy to a service-based one. See the case of photocopying suppliers that also evolved their business model some years ago into this pay-per-use model, which is spreading fast to so many other areas.
In weak economies, which are also very dependent on imports of goods which they do not produce, as in Portugal, this can also be a sustainable way to build a healthier economy as you will only buy the capacity you are able to use or take advantage from, reducing waste capacity.
Which comparisons do you make with the rest of Europe and the World?
Portugal and Europe, in general, are lagging behind in this digital transformation.
Recently Harvard Business Review published the Digital Evolution Index (DEI), created by the Fletcher School at Tufts University, where we see that most eastern Europe countries are lagging due to the ageing of the population or difficulties in implementing reforms that accelerate digital transformation.
There is an awareness in the European Commission of this risk, which led from 2014 on, to create initiatives such as the Strategic Policy Forum on Digital Entrepreneurship and relaunch Horizon2020 putting together the R&D and the industry to accelerate applied innovation.
In particular, Europe is also very concerned with the impact of new technologies and business models in traditional areas, such as manufacturing, and today we speak about FoF – Factories of the Future.
Are there any particular industries currently ahead in the digital transformation process in Portugal?
Some industries such as the IT sector, some areas in Services and large companies in Utilities, Oil & Gas or financial services are among the leaders, due either to the inherent culture, financial capabilities and managerial skills.
But among most of the small and medium businesses which represent the large majority of our economy, the last few years have been impactful in the level of investment in IT. Generally, analysts recognise there was a negative growth of IT investment and this impacted more heavily this segment.
Digital transformation also means vision, as I mentioned before, to take the opportunity to change or create new business models, change processes, re-engineer, and this also means that it is necessary to have an organizational culture and employees skills that might need investment.
Many might think that digital is mostly about marcom. Which other business areas would you say should be an eminent focus area for digital transformation?
As I mentioned before, digital transformation is much larger than automation or information technologies investment. Also sometimes it is assumed, because of the word digital, that is related to digital marketing.
But, once again, it is broader as it involves all areas in an organisation. However, marketing and internal communications are crucial in this process.
From a customer-centric point of view, we need to start looking at the segments and value proposition which we want to provide and how the digitalization can best enable to achieve this. So, the starting point is both a strategic, competitive analysis and marketing based process, where we combine business vision and objectives with digital capabilities.
From an internal point of view, it is important that this digital evolution or revolution is felt as a must to succeed (survive in some cases), by all involved, and this means that internal marketing and communication is key in the process and should be planned and led both by the top management and the project leader(s) of this digital transformation.
NOVA has launched a new course “Digital Enterprise Management” – what is that about, what are the benefits?
The Digital Enterprise Management is a post graduation course where we want to train Digital Transformation project leaders. These are the people that will be taking the leadership either in their organisation or in their customer’s organisations (if they are consultants or suppliers of digital transformation enabling systems and technologies).
There is the need to see enabling technologies from the point of view of the benefits and adequacy they can bring to an organization to become more competitive, but furthermore we need to unveil all the other areas of management impacted (eg. human resources/skills, process management, business performance evaluation, new ways to contracting, services management versus assets management, etc).
We also wanted to provide and work on real-case examples of companies that embraced or are leading this digital transformation in their industries and this was also the reason to have partners such as Google or SAP supporting this post-graduation.
NOVA IMS is an Information management school and we are especially concerned with the impact that new technologies, management solutions and new paradigms such as cloud computing might have in the organisations, in their competitiveness and social impact.
At NOVA IMS we felt that it is our mission and role to help educate global leaders for this digital transformation as it goes much beyond the application of new technologies.
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