An Interview with Antonio Grasso
For Enterprise Africa Summit 2019 session 1.2, “Antonio Grasso and the Internet of EveryThing: A Business View of the Digital Revolution”, this well-traveled and highly-respected analyst and spokesman will demystify much in realm of digital transformation in memorable terms that can be understood and appreciated by business leaders.
Anticipating this event, we asked Antonio to answer some key leading questions in this regard.
Enterprise Alliance: You have been working in the realm of Digitalization for Enterprises and Public Sector for 35+ years and most recently have been focused on B2B Influencer while advising for large multinational organizations like Siemens, Intel and the European Commission.
As you look forward to addressing an audience of business leaders in need of insight into how to get their arms around emerging and tempting technologies, what barriers to their understanding have you observed in recent years?
Antonio Grasso: As I have said many times, most of the barriers are cultural and not technical.
Many companies see technology adoption as the key driver for digital transformation but technology alone is not sufficient. While it has great importance, it is only a piece of the puzzle.
Companies must also rely on people, their organizational posture, and culture. Thanks to the digital diffusion, the society around them, the economy in which they operate, and their institutions are all radically changing.
Enterprise Alliance: What do you do best to help organizations get past these barriers of understanding?
Antonio Grasso: Again, technology alone is not sufficient to gain digital transformation. This is the primary point to understand.
An enterprise is a complex system comprising people, process, and tools. Since people possess many key strategic assets -such as knowledge- they need to be a knowledgeable part of the process. Digital tools are also required to enable the processes. All three elements are essential to reveal a compelling business model that will lead to a desired “transformation”.
It is essential to focus upon what are called “hot spots”, i.e. aspects of your business model that are “hot” in terms of importance and immediacy. These can only be identified through an intense and exacting scrutiny of the business model.
Transformation leaders must also have a solid understanding of the differences between three concepts:
• Digitization: a product or service that becomes digital (example: the music, from vinyl/CD to MP3 is a physical product become digital)
• Digitalization: the business model that becomes digital (example: Apple’s iTunes Store employs a digital business model that harnesses a digital product: a place to buy music without human interaction)
• Digital Transformation: the radical shift across society, the economy, and institutions that beneficially transforms the way they relate to each other.
Enterprise Alliance: There is always a lot of vendor, and even analyst, hype surrounding emerging technologies. What brief advice can you give to prospective attendees of our event that will help them set the hype aside and concentrate not on “what” they can do but “how” to approach their adoption and eventual deployment?
Antonio Grasso: I spend a lot of my time demystifying the “emerging technologies” and the subsequent enterprise adoption process, but, it does continually happen that the technology vendors express their need to garner potential buyers’ attention.
My brief advice to organizations: 1) stay focused on your business model and your value proposition, 2) always keep the customer experience at center stage, 3) hire a good advisor to guide your organization through the transformation process, 4) cultivate a mixed team of internal key resources and external advisors and, finally, 5) Go All-In.
Enterprise Alliance: Specific to the African continent, are there aspect to the market that you consider to be beneficial to client organizations seeking technology evolution?
Antonio Grasso: I see no significant difference between the African people compared to European or American people; the creativity and innovation desire are the same.
Lack of sufficient infrastructure in some African countries will inhibit technological bandwidth, for example, but, in the main, African enterprises suffer the same challenges as the EU and US sisters.
Enterprise Alliance: You are a leading light in the realm of Digital Transformation. What one nugget of advice can you offer to prospective attendees of this event?
Antonio Grasso: Come with an open mind. Do not expect to see futuristic videos or shiny graphics. Seek out the great content and lessons that can answer your queries and start you on a visible path toward a successful digital business model.
Antonio Grasso Bio
An internationally-acclaimed expert on artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, digital transformation, the internet of things, and blockchain, Antonio is regarded as one of the top influencers in the digital world. His ethical vision with regards to digital transformation has been leveraged across numerous social channels dedicated to spreading knowledge, most particularly to developing countries. He clearly sees how digital transformation is transforming the world as we know it and his social media engagement in this regard focusses on spreading content on new, emerging technologies and their uses to secure a better future.
“While technology is only a component of the digital puzzle, the biggest hurdle is the cultural change; we need a strategic approach to face this epochal change.” – Antonio Grasso