The Technology Transformation Summit on November 8 juxtaposed the UK's transformation from sporting wannabe to international powerhouse to the challenging business climate of today and highlighted how technology is the key to our businesses emulating UK sporting teams. In 2012 Chelsea Football Club won the Champions League, the London Olympic and Paralympic Games were an incredible success and Team GB a leader in the medal table. In Formula One British-based teams continue to dominate the sport.
How British sport got to, or remains, in this dominant position was described by Martin Brundle, former F1 driver, and Mike Forde, Chelsea's director of football operations. Brundle opened the day right on message; F1 is all about big numbers. The commentator revealed how F1 could almost have invented Big Data, and that the speed of the data adoption continues to grow. Brundle’s son had more data access on his Kart as a child than Brundle had a decade before in F1, while today’s Grand Prix drivers have a steering wheel loaded with buttons and 40 crew members watching their every move via data sensors on the car.
Brundle debuted in F1 in 1984 in a British Tyrell car and through his career drove for British teams such as Brabham, Jordan, Jaguar and McLaren. Although all but McLaren of those team names have disappeared, British-based teams still dominate the sport with McLaren, Williams, Lotus and Caterham, as well as UK-based outfits like Red Bull, Mercedes and Force India. The reason for this national dominance is that F1 culturally is about the art of the technologically possible and not only UK teams, but also the industries of suppliers, push the boundaries of technology, he said.
The F1 theme continued with CIO columnist Mike Altendorf and Paul Dawson discussing the role of collaboration in today’s business. Entrepreneur and technologist Altendorf described how collaboration isn’t a technology tool, it is a culture and alluding to F1 he talked of how pharmaceutical giant GSK, in its relationship with McLaren, doesn’t just sponsor the team, but has an innovation lab at McLaren’s Woking HQ to enable its staff to be involved and learn first-hand to be like an F1 team: agile, innovative and brave.
Dawson demonstrated how his Fluxx organisation enables organisations to come together and create a collaborative culture.
Microsoft chief envisioning officer Dave Coplin took the stage before lunch and was exemplary in his passion for technology. His thesis on how outraged people in a developed nation would be if you said you couldn’t read, but how it is acceptable, almost applauded, to be ignorant of technology, was wonderful. Technology can only transform organisations if those at the heart of the technology world, whether CIO, IT manager or vendor, share their passion for technology and make sure that everyone feels involved and invited to the opportunities technology has to offer.
Post lunch and household goods manufacturing giant Procter & Gamble CIO Dave Ubachs put Coplin’s points into a real and valuable business context. Ubachs described how CIOs have to market technology to their organisations; and not in technology language, but in outcomes. By outcomes Ubachs followed Coplin, who’d said how smartphone apps and games had got people interested in technology and its possibilities. Ubachs described how he got funding for some major projects and P&G by selling it to the board and the wider company that his plans would save everyone in the company 30 minutes a day. When all saw he was improving productivity and improving the working quality of life the interest in the project and the funding was agreed.
Ian Jones of event sponsor Intel again carried the technology transformation forward describing the work Intel has done in connected cities and increasing mobility. The opportunities this presents to IT leaders is only just being realised.
The day came back to the sporting theme with Mike Forde of Chelsea describing the use of data and culture at the football club to build a high performance team that understands itself and reverse engineers success.
“Be comfortable with change and use it to your competitive advantage,” Forde told the attendees; a fitting final word to the day’s event.