Ahead of our upcoming Digital Enterprise Festival (DEF) in London on 10th and 11th September, we caught up with one of the event’s industry speakers, Marco Del Seta, Head of Digital at BOC UK & Ireland.
In Marco’s session “The Case for Digital in Today’s Modern Enterprise: How, What, Why” he will discuss the importance of digital enterprise for business success and why all businesses need to optimise its digital capability to remain relevant in increasingly competitive markets.
Below are a few questions and answers we put to Marco. You can check out the full speaker line up and agenda for the Digital London Enterprise Festival London here: www.digitalenterprisefest.com/london
We have some complimentary* sponsor guest passes available to QUALIFYING Enterprise level brands (*end user brands only, we classify Enterprise as minimum of 3,000 employees, no consultancies, sales staff, solution providers or agencies allowed complimentary passes. The organisers decision is final). To check if you qualify and to reserve your place click here TICKETS.
DEF: Can you tell us a bit about BOC and what role digital plays in the company’s overall vision/ strategy?
Marco: BOC is the UK and Ireland’s largest supplier of industrial, healthcare and food and beverage gases and, as part of the Linde group, it is also one of the top suppliers in the world. The company has been in business since the late 19thcentury, so we are an archetypal traditional business. We have a strong reputation of efficiency and performance and play an integral part of so many businesses in the UK.
In the last few years, we have seen potential signs of disruption to some of our traditional business models, as well as a need to further enhance productivity and explore new ways of doing business with customers. The UK and Ireland region of the group has adopted a stated aim of being the first digital business unit in this strategy, thus putting the Digital Agenda at the very core of our vision and strategy.
DEF: What are your overall responsibilities as Head of Digital? Can you give some insight into your typical day in the office?
Marco: I run an organisation reporting directly to the managing director, so I have a lot of latitude on what my responsibilities are in detail. However, my objective is to deliver transformational projects across the business. We achieve this by looking at a number of critical areas (such as internal efficiency, business transformation, new customer engagement models) and technologies (e.g. data analytics, IoT and mobility development). We do not engage directly with typical technical or digital activities in the company, the idea is to provide a model for change and skills and approaches that aren’t typically found in the company.
Personally, my days are as diverse as my responsibilities, from fairly standard board meetings to days spent at incubators across Europe talking to two/ three people start-ups about their new ideas and technologies.
DEF: You started out your career in academia and hi tech. What made you move into a more traditional engineering and manufacturing company as a digital specialist?
Marco: I worked for many years in the San Francisco Bay Area in a number of high tech companies, but by early 2016 it felt like a good time to come back to Europe. I may have misjudged that somewhat 😊
My role as Head of Digital is more focused on open ended exploration, organisational transformation and future proofing. With it has come a much broader opportunity for engagement with a variety of topics, people, companies, rather than narrow focus on technology execution in a company directed solely to delivering technology as such. This has been tremendous fun, a truly interesting life change.
DEF: What makes you passionate about the world of digital and technology?
Marco: I thrive on change. I have lived in different continents, had disparate jobs, managed very diverse groups of people, solved very different problems. I see digital and technology as the ideal enablers for changes in organisations, both internal and external to a company. I believe they will drive business transformation as they have been for the last fifty years.
I am also truly passionate about learning, both for myself and for the people around me. Digital and technology offer opportunity to learn new things and force us to become far more educated about so much that is either taken for granted today, or just not considered relevant. I believe this space will provide tremendous opportunities for growth and improvement to our employees in all businesses.
DEF: What is the best part of your job?
Marco: The people are almost by definition the best part of any job I have ever had. I would not work in a place where I don’t like the people around me. At BOC I enjoy the interactions with so many different people in the organisation from traditional employees in roles which have existed for decades, like our drivers, to some of the smart leaders and innovators around me.
DEF: Do companies really need to go digital?
Marco: Controversially, this might be a no. A lot depends on how your company assesses its needs. It is often difficult to make a traditional business case for digital transformation, since this often involves an innovation cycle which forces potentially long times and uncertain outcomes. A company whose processes are fairly well optimised can struggle to break even on a traditional business case for large scale digital change.
The need to go digital is best seen as necessary when companies are consciously valuing threats, even if they are not yet actual, and the potential from business model change.
DEF: What kind of company culture is needed for digital transformation?
Marco: Several things must happen for digital transformation to take hold, at a minimum. A company needs to embrace risk; not failure. It also needs to be willing to learn and adapt to change quickly.
Much is made of failure tolerance, but this is not very helpful; failure is an outcome or, at best, a symptom of something gone wrong. It will happen in digital change, in innovation projects, because in these spaces we tend to pursue activities that are more difficult, with lower probability of success; this has to be accepted and the learnings from failed projects processed quickly to make ongoing projects more effective.
DEF: Digital has already taken us on a significant journey both in business and in our personal lives. What big things do you think we should be looking out for in 2018/2019?
Marco: Companies are being pushed to look at more data and to use it in a faster, more effective manner across their operations. This will lead to a more educated take on data as a whole, with more people across the business engaged in data driven decision making and more insight on both the benefits and limits of statistical analysis.
For instance, in the Internet of Things (IoT) we will begin to see some maturity in the infrastructure space, with networks solidifying across several technology approaches; we will also begin to see easier frameworks for developing products, allowing for broader adoption of IoT solutions in both broader business contexts and in a B2C scenario.
DEF: What would you be doing if you left the digital industry?
Marco: Mixing cocktails 😊
I’d be tempted to do something very different; I would perhaps like to return to Italy and run a small business there, which is an experience in itself, a very different culture of work. Possibly head out to Asia and work for a while out there. I would also be interested in more active involvement in organisational design; many of the challenges we encounter in driving cultural and technological transformation are the result of challenges in our business structure and practice and it would be interesting to be more actively involved in managing it.
DEF: Thanks for your time Marco!
In addition to our London gig we have amazing events coming up in Copenhagen on the 26th and 27th September and in sunny Barcelona on the 23rd and 24th October, for sponsorship, speaker or ticket enquiries give us a call on 00 44 203 9500 565 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org
We hope to see you soon, have a great weekend.