Dave Sobel Sees Through Digital Transformation Branding and Brings Attention to Digital Privacy Management
Sometimes, sifting through the think-pieces, reviews and white papers about the latest and greatest tech can feel like running through a gauntlet of opinions intermixed with facts. What tech should I adopt? What discussions should I follow? How can I sort out the helpful from the hype? A good lesson to keep in mind about technology development and adoption is that what is popular does not mean it will be good—for your company, your brand or your customer experience.
A recent episode of Volley introduced an idea that can help cut through the noise. Dave Sobel, senior director of MSP evangelism at SolarWinds, joined Seth Robinson and Carolyn April from CompTIA’s research team to discuss what is overrated and what is underrated in tech, specifically speaking to the current climate of emerging technology and business strategy around tech. The filter of overrated/underrated helps provide the necessary food-for-thought about what topics and issues are in the spotlight—or should be. Here's what Sobel had to say.
Overrated: Digital Transformation
The premise of digital transformation—integrating digital technology in all areas of business—includes fundamentally changing how a business operates and presents to users or customers. As the theory goes, digital transformation also requires a culture change to businesses to constantly evolve, assess, and experiment, and yes, sometimes fail. The concept has been touted as a radical new way of thinking about business operations. But Sobel argues it is redundant to even mention at this point.
“I look at it and say, digital transformation is a way of packaging consulting services to people that want to buy things. Digital transformation is like, oh wow, the use of technology to change your business. Isn’t that every implementation of technology ever? Isn’t that what we’ve been talking about the whole time?”
April argues that perhaps it’s not so much calling out the concept but the naming of it that Sobel disagrees with. “We’re the buzzword industry,” says April. “I think digital transformation is meaningful in a sense. It’s just in the next iteration of what we’re doing with technology, but it’s basically just a name.”
Robinson agrees with the prevalence of jargon in the industry but also notes that ideas like digital transformation are teaching old businesses that technology isn’t simply about replacing older models with new, but instead about assessing and changing processes and embracing how technology can better their business and interactions with customers.
Still, Sobel thinks relabeling lessons from business 101 is unnecessary. “Business moves on technology. This is part of doing business now. Customer expectations have changed. They’ve elevated, but I just think of this branding and this naming as super overrated.”
Underrated: Digital Rights, Privacy and Information Management
On the other hand, Sobel notes that while technology is bringing about many positive changes, the ethical repercussions of technological advancements are not getting equal attention, and that is a big problem.
“I look at it the way digital technologies are being used for influence, the way companies are processing information to market to you and to change opinions and some of the implications of technology…about [channel companies] actually having conversations about what might happen with your data, and what the risk is, and how you can be a good steward of it, and what your responsibilities are for your own data, and the way your data is being managed in the company. And all of that that’s super high value and it’s hard.”
As Sobel points out, the banking industry is regulated, whereas the data is not.
“Why is not every technology company saying, ‘What’s the Black Mirror episode that totally distorts the thing that I’m making? Like, what’s the horrific version of this out there and how do I make sure that that doesn’t happen?’ Because you can see this escalation of the kinds of things that are happening.”
Robinson notes that people are slow to realize the value of data and to protect it accordingly as well as the disconnect between what users say they want protected within their technology, and how little personal safeguarding is actually happening.
Sobel concludes by saying that as innovators in the field, it’s important for the tech industry to educate other businesses, government and society at large on the best practices and processes for smart, safe privacy standards. “As experts, it is our job to get involved in that conversation in order to move all of us to a better place.”
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