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Digital transformation: Making it work in the real world

It takes more than shiny new technologies to remake business processes. Here are a few ideas on how to make digital transformation projects work in your organisation.
 Mark Samuels
By Mark Samuels | March 1, 2017 — 16:17 GMT (16:17 GMT) | Topic: Digital Transformation: A CXO's Guide

Having the right skills in place is key to engendering full cultural change, both in terms of understanding the customer and linking those trends back to the business."

Digital transformation is the process through which companies can take a new look at their existing processes and remake them with the help of new technologies and new ways of thinking.

The aim might be to cut costs, understand customers better, or create new revenue streams. It's a relatively simple concept but hard to put into practice; here we look at some of the issues involved in such a project.

Marketing: How to create a digital-first attitude

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Customer experience (CX) is the big priority for marketing professionals through 2017, says Jim Clark, research director at Econsultancy. He draws on evidence from the research firm's recently released Digital Trends 2017 report, which surveyed over 14,000 marketing professionals globally. Almost a quarter (22 per cent) of marketeers say CX is their key concern this year.

Clark, however, issues a word of warning and suggests great experiences are by no means a given: executives must focus on techniques that help their business exploit data in an integrated manner. "CX is in itself important, but marketing professionals must think now about how they implement experience as a strategy," said Clark, speaking at Adobe's recent Digital Trends Forum in London.

The good news is that almost half (46 per cent) of firms believe that digital now permeates their marketing efforts. Clark says easy access to the cloud and software-as-a-service is helping marketeers to harness digital technology quickly in their attempts to change business processes and customer experiences for the better.

There is interest in technology to spread insights, too. Almost half (49 per cent) of marketing professionals intend to increase their investment in analytics this year. However, the research suggests that digital transformation is a far from straightforward process. Just 14 percent of marketing chiefs described their business as a digital-first organisation in 2015; today, that figure is even lower at 11 per cent.

"The reality of the situation is that implementing digital transformation is tough," says Clark. "Some boards might not be as fully behind change as others. Having the right skills in place is key to engendering full cultural change, both in terms of understanding the customer and linking those trends back to the business."

Clarke points to best-practice examples in strategy. He says smart companies are findings ways to converge sales and marketing teams, ensuring customer data is pooled across the business, rather than being held in isolated and unconnected stove pipes.

Leadership matters, too. More than three quarters (77 percent) of blue-chip firms now have a chief customer officer or equivalent, according to analyst Gartner. These C-suite executives are focused on building and pushing the focus on customer experience across the business' various operational activities.

"Data-driven marketing technology is now a lot more accessible but there needs to be an awareness in terms of engaging audiences," says Clark. "Your business needs to fully understand the key trends to engage with customers personally. As new technologies like VR roll out, that focus on personalisation becomes even more critical."

All firms, he says, must look to continually surprise and delight their customers. "It can be difficult to engender digital-led change, particularly in a sector like finance," says Clark. "One way is to start small on key projects, and to hope these examples pick up traction and that the benefits permeate across the rest of the organisation."

Building a digital foundation in financial services
Chris Worle, digital strategy director at Hargreaves Lansdown, is one executive driving transformation in a finance firm. Worle manages digital-led change at the FTSE 100 business, which manages £70 billion of assets on behalf of its 876,000 clients. Worle and his team run a website that receives more than 100 million visits a year.

"We find ourselves today in a constant cycle of measure, understand and improve," says Hargreaves Lansdown's Chris Worle.

"We're seeing huge growth in mobile, both in terms of the use of our apps and direct visits to the website," he says. "The number of trades via mobile is up 200 per cent year-on-year. This has consequences in terms of the experiences we provide, because we pride ourselves on a high quality of service."

Worle recognises the number of channels to market has grown rapidly since the firm started its transformation journey in 2008, as has the number of products offered to clients. The digital team started sifting through huge volumes of data to keep a tight grip on customer experiences, but found itself swamped with information.

"We took a breath and decided to start small instead," he says, looking back on the digital change process. "We then took a strategic approach to testing and optimisation. Rather than focusing on the entire website, we focused on quick wins connected to high-volume web pages. We used that insight to drive improvements."

Worle and his team honed website content and launched the firm's first app in 2011. Yet transformation in the mobile age remains a work in progress. "We find ourselves today in a constant cycle of measure, understand and improve," he says.

The modern digital challenges facing Hargreaves can be summed up by three key terms, says Worle: complexity, speed and expectations. "There's a requirement to create a consistent experience across multiple channels and that's incredibly difficult," he says, referring to the issue of complexity. "We're actively working on cracking that approach."

When it comes to speed, Worle says his organisation feels the pressure to innovate and deliver solutions increasingly quickly. "Technology is moving faster than ever before," he says. "People will drop off, and you will lose their business, if they have to wait even just a few seconds for a web page to load."

The final challenge is around expectations and the ever-demanding nature of modern customers. "Your business will be judged against the digital experiences that people get everywhere else, be that from technology companies like Google or via online retailers," says Worle. "Customers don't care that you're a regulated finance firm — they just expect the same high quality of service, regardless of sector."

The good news is Worle continues to deliver great customer experiences. The key lesson for other CXOs is to recognise the importance of mobility. "Most of our clients use mobile as their main communication channel of choice," he says. "The business needs to focus on the fact that mobile is more than just another channel — and that's a constant battle."

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How to Make Bible Reading a Daily Habit

Begin a practice that nourishes your spiritual life and makes you useful to God

Written by GodLife on 07/03/2017
Series: Weekly Devotional
Tags: Bible, Reading, Peace, Faith, Wisdom
Be like newborn babies who are thirsty for the pure spiritual milk that will help you grow and be saved.

1 Peter 2:2
When Peter compared the Bible to the milk which feeds a newborn baby, it was a picture we can all understand. Have you ever seen a baby hungry for food? Every attitude and action comes from intense desire. This is how God wants us to approach His Word.

But the Bible is a big book! It can’t be read in one sitting. How is a new follower of Jesus supposed to get the nourishment he or she needs for growth? Read on for practical encouragement to get you started on a lifetime of growth.

To Fuel Your Desire for God’s Word:
Think of the many benefits the Bible promises the reader. Within its pages, you can read the confirming stories from those who read and treasured it while it was still being written. They experienced:

Growing faith (Romans 10:17)
Clarity for knowing and following God’s will (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Knowing God’s character (John 1:18, 16:14)
Better insight into their own nature (Hebrews 4:12)
Instruction from the successes and failures of others (Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11)
Increasing peace (Psalm 119:165)
Growth in purity (John 17:17; Ephesians 5:26)
Here’s How to Make Reading the Bible a Habit
First, know the benefits of doing this. (See the list above.) “By your teachings, Lord, I am warned; by obeying them, I am greatly rewarded.” (Psalm 19:11). Meditate on these things. Appreciate what is to be gained. Do you want to know God and experience His guidance? Do you want to be instructed in how to avoid pitfalls? Do you want purity, inspiration and peace? Committing yourself to daily time in the word is the first step toward making real gains in these important areas.
Go public with your commitment. Knowing your friends, your spouse, children or parents want you to succeed can make you rethink any thoughts of simply giving up. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Set aside a time each day, in a quiet place where you can focus on the most important thing — hearing from God. (Luke 10:41-42) For many, that time is first thing in the morning.
Have a plan. (Proverbs 21:5) We already mentioned that the Bible is big: 66 books, with 1,189 chapters containing over 31,000 verses. It may seem too much at first, but it isn’t hard to manage with a good plan. And there are many good ones. For example, reading about three chapters a day will allow you to read the whole Bible in a year or you can read through the New Testament in a year if you read only about five minutes a day. Whatever you choose, make a decision to eventually get to it all. As Paul advised Timothy: “Everything in the Scriptures is God’s Word. All of it is useful for teaching and helping people and for correcting them and showing them how to live.” (2 Timothy 3:16)
Take notes. (Jeremiah 30:2) If you had the opportunity to spend the day with an honored mentor, would you take a notebook with you? Of course. Why not make notes about what God shows you each day? If you do, you’ll get more lasting benefit out of it.
Don’t have an all-or-nothing attitude. (Matthew 21:28-31) Set modest goals, but take them seriously. Forgive yourself when you miss a goal, but don’t give up.
Physical growth can only happen when a child has plenty of nourishment. It’s the same with our spiritual lives. Followers of Jesus need a good diet of God’s Word. Otherwise, our spiritual lives begin to suffer. If you read the Bible and pray daily, you will be surprised by how much you grow in your knowledge of God and His will for you.

And just as activity as well as nourishment are necessary for healthy growth, Jesus challenges His followers, “You know these things, and God will bless you if you do them.” (John 13:17) It is when you put what He shows you into practice that “what you know about our Lord Jesus” makes your life “useful and meaningful.” (2 Peter 1:1-8)

Pray this week:

God, I thank You for these invitations to appreciate the value of Your Word. Please open new ways for me to consistently read it so that I can be more in step with You.

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9-Year-Old Boy Graduates High School and Starts College, Wants to Become Astrophysicist: ‘I Want to Prove That God Does Exist’

At 9 years old, William Maillis is like a lot of other boys his age, enjoying video games, knock-knock jokes, sports and hanging out with friends. But William is no ordinary kid when it comes to academics.

In May, he graduated from high school and is now a college student already working on his own theories of how the universe was created. Most other 9-year-olds are in fourth grade.

William, who lives in Penn Township, Pennsylvania, is among the youngest people ever to attend college. He’s currently taking a full slate of classes at Community College of Allegheny County as a way to ease into life as a college student and plans to enroll next fall at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, according to his father, Peter Maillis, a Greek Orthodox priest.

“It doesn’t bother me” being the youngest student in class by far, William tells PEOPLE. “I’m used to it by now.”

William, who wants to study the physics and chemistry of space, earn a doctorate degree and work as an astrophysicist, is at ease tossing around concepts like “displacement of space-time” “singularity” and “pure gravity” as he patiently attempts to explain why black holes aren’t “super massive” as theorized by such other brilliant minds as Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking.

Bottom line, according to William: “I want to prove to everybody that God does exist,” he says, by showing that only an outside force could be capable of forming the cosmos.

Maillis said he and his wife, Nancy, who also are parents to a daughter, 29, and son, 26, – “[William] was our 17-year-surprise,” Maillis says with a laugh – realized their young son was advanced when he started accurately identifying numbers at 6 months old and speaking in complete sentences at just 7 months old, he said.

“William was just very sharp,” Maillis says. “William remembers everything he sees.”

He followed with a range of impressive academic feats, including doing addition at 21 months; multiplication, reading and writing at 2 years old; algebra, sign language and reading Greek at age 4; geometry at 5 and trigonometry at 7.

READ THIS ARTICLE: 6-Year-Old Boy Asks To Pray With St. Petersburg Police Officers

After finishing third grade last year, William then simultaneously attended fourth grade and high school while also taking some college classes and this year enrolled in college full-time, his dad says.

Despite his obvious prowess, William was originally turned down when he tried to enroll in kindergarten at age 4 after failing an entrance readiness test when he couldn’t, for example, identify gray as a color (“gray is a shade, not a color,” his father explains) or recognize a thermometer (“we don’t use that kind, we use the kind that goes in your ear,” he says).

Maillis then consulted with a college psychologist who studies whiz kids and she declared him a “pure genius” after administering IQ tests, he says. The elementary school reconsidered and allowed him in.

Maillis says he and his wife allow William to take the lead in deciding what areas of interest to pursue. “Whatever classes he wants to take, that’s okay with me,” Maillis says. “I don’t want to push him.”

William’s history professor, Aaron Hoffman, says the boy fits right in with his other college students. “We haven’t steered away from any topics: Hitler, Mussolini, the Holocaust, wars,” Hoffman says. “If he’s here for college, he’s going to get college-level material.”

The only difference he’s noticed, Hoffman says, is that William doesn’t take notes like the other students, but simply listens, reads and absorbs the material.

Through it all, Maillis says his son remains grounded. “I just want him to appreciate the gift he has, which I think he does,” Maillis said. “I tell him, ‘God gave you a gift. The worst thing would be to reject that gift and not use it for the betterment of the world.’ “

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