Digital Transformation Lessons from the Digital Stratosphere Conference

Written By: Eric Kimberling
Date: December 7, 2018

We recently hosted people from around the world at our Digital Stratosphere ERP conference. I have attended nearly 100 conferences in my career – and I have designed and facilitated approximately 25 ERP Boot Camps over the years – but this was by far the best event that I have attended or been a part of. The quality of digital transformation lessons was unlike anything I’ve seen at an industry event.

The conference’s 40+ attendees came from all over the world, from as close as a few miles from the conference facility in Denver to as far as Australia. Attendees were from all sorts of industries, including a large steel company, a mid-size energy company, a mid-size construction company, a small distribution company, and a ton of other organizations. A variety of consultants and our industry peers also attended the event.

With such a great speaker and panelist lineup, it was impossible not to learn a wealth of best practices, lessons, and tips for success. Here are the five things that resonated that most for me at the three-day event:

The key to your digital transformation success? It depends.

Many ERP vendors sell the concept of “best practices” or one-size-fits-all answers, but it is clear that every organization needs to define the strategies, tactics, and answers that are the most aligned with their overall strategies. Various sessions provided a number of frameworks and decision criteria to help arrive at the decisions that make the most sense for your organization and its situation.

Transformation readiness is a way to control the tempo of your transformation

Too many companies rush into their transformations without creating a solid foundation from which to start. Well before your system integrator starts running the meter on its army of consultants, it is important to develop your organizational change plan, implementation strategy, and do other things to get your ducks in a row. An effective ERP implementation readiness strategy will save your company quite a bit of time and money over the long-term course of the transformation project.

Cybersecurity and data privacy are a big deal

Our highest-rated sessions (rated 4.9 out of 5.0 among attendees) focused on cybersecurity and data privacy. I learned the most in this session. I had no idea how pervasive cybersecurity breaches are, how important data privacy is, or how most digital transformations fail to address these high-risk concerns. It also helped that two of the conference’s strongest speakers (Brian Weinthal and Daryl Crockett) delivered these sessions.

There are more loopholes in your ERP software contract than you think

Marcus Harris from Taft Law delivered an amazing session on how to negotiate software contracts with your software vendors and ERP system integrators such as Deloitte, Accenture, and Capgemini. He identified a multitude of common loopholes and problems with one-sided vendor contracts, which was very eye-opening for most. Even though I have been an ERP expert witness in a variety of cases in my past, I learned a number of lessons here.

There is a lot to learn from real-life transformation examples

Several real-life case studies were shared throughout the event. Dan Krug, Mike Stone, and Jeanne Dailey provided deep dive discussions and Q&A sessions related to their digital transformation experiences. One of the most common comments we received was: “we loved hearing the real-life examples of digital transformation and ERP implementation projects.” We plan to add even more to our next Stratosphere project.

There is a lot to learn from ERP failures and lawsuits

ERP failures at Lidl, National Grid, and other high-profile organizations are a stark reminder that digital transformations are risky. A few sessions presented by Marcus Harris and I dove into variety of case studies involving publicly-reported failures and expert witness cases that we have been a part of. The common threads and patters in these cases were analyzed and shared with the attendees. It was a sobering – but helpful – reminder of the digital transformation pitfalls to avoid.

Organizational change management is more tangible and valuable than you think

Many attendees didn’t seem to have a clear understanding of what an effective organizational change management strategy might look. One of the higher-rated sessions provided an overview of the framework and tools to make a digital transformation more successful. This is one of the many things that attendees said they had a better understood after attending the conference.

Conclusion: Define an effective strategy and ask for outside help

The conference featured a variety of digital transformation experts. It was interesting to hear such diverse practitioners and their stories. The common theme from these speakers was that it is critical to define an effective strategy and ask for outside, independent digital transformation and ERP expertise.

Contact me to learn more about some of these experts that might be able to best help your organization through its digital transformation. I’m happy to help!

Eric Kimberling
Eric is known globally as a thought leader in the ERP consulting space. He has helped hundreds of high-profile enterprises worldwide with their technology initiatives, including Nucor Steel, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, Kodak, Coors, Boeing, and Duke Energy. He has helped manage ERP implementations and reengineer global supply chains across the world.
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