Lost in the Metaverse: Everyone but Lex and Mark

I had the pleasure of attending a great dinner party last Friday, where I tried to explain my work to a group of brilliant individuals. In a nutshell, as you all know, I lead a consulting company that specializes in Data, Analytics, and MarTech. However, my attempts to convey this concept fell flat. I found myself searching for relatable examples within their domains and fields of work to make it more concrete. I gave up and reassured myself and them that they weren’t my target audience, so it was okay if they didn’t grasp it fully. One of my best friends disagreed and made a good point: if we don’t understand, many potential customers won’t either. And even if they do, how can they effectively sell and justify the investment internally if management don’t understand it? Fair point indeed. And since both Analytics and MarTech are heavily dependent on strategy alignment for success, the investments won’t be useful or even correctly implemented if the target state and business value are not understood and defined.

The Challenge of Making Digital Transformation Understandable

This challenge of making digital transformation understandable to a wider audience has occupied my thoughts for quite some time now. It was already a struggle before the genAI buzz took hold, and now the gap and confusion seem to widen by the minute. The number of new products entering the market every day, along with the ever-growing ”Proof of concept POC- graveyard,” isn’t helping the confusion for most companies. I struggled a lot myself during some of my previous digital transformations, where navigating through the myriad of product and tech choices felt like trying to find an old friend in a crowded room. Building a proof of concept and scaling to deliver value are two very different things.

Mark and Lex in the Metaverse: A Mind-Blowing Meeting

Meanwhile, the world of technology is advancing at breakneck speed, with possibilities multiplying by the minute. Take, for instance, the recent meeting between Lex Friedman, a researcher and podcaster from MIT, and Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Meta, during a podcast recorded in the metaverse (an online shared world). Not only were they blown away themselves from the experience, even the 2D video recording was nothing short of amazing, making it appear as though they were really physically together. They also discussed the amazing possibilities with the new technologies, not just for remote meetings but also for deploying a team of AI avatars and experts that you can interact with in the metaverse.

The real life gaps

So, who is even close to employing digital avatars instead of people in their teams? Hands up? One person in the back, congratulations. For most, even though AI is integrated into numerous products, we’ve only scratched the surface of internal business transformation driven by AI. Most companies I talk to think of AI as enhancing their employees and amplifying them, rather than as a tool to replace the workforce. They are still working on data governance, data quality or operationalizing their first machine learning models, not to mention ensuring that these models perform better than random selection.

What will Really Matter?

I believe that a company’s success will be less about how quickly they deploy their first genAI use case and more about how they envision the future in their business domain. To achieve this, it is important to understand the vision and, at the very least, have an idea of the digital possibilities beyond addressing urgent data quality issues, meeting quarterly sales targets and building the first GenAI POC.

The Risk of Falling Behind

But how urgent is this? No one knows for sure. Some say they do but no one knows. However, the risk is that companies that successfully build structures to accelerate automation and leverage technology effectively will be in the fast lane, while others may find themselves stuck in traffic, heading in the opposite direction. The focus going forward should therefore revolve around digital upskilling, developing the right roadmap, and adapting operating models and governance to suit the upcoming changes and leverage the potential.

Choosing the Right Partners

Partners are key! Get help. Collaborate. I think of a proverb that I love, if you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together. And you want to go far, past the POC graveyard for sure. I recommend selecting partners with real-life experience in working with organizations, implementing genuine transformations, and understanding change in practice.

Rudolph are you up for Dinner?

Perhaps my next dinner will feature me and Rudolph, our deer assistant, in the metaverse leaving more food for me. But to be honest we are not there yet, and my real friends are much more fun. Best choice come to think of it is my deer partner Lena!