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Digital transformation and the European Collaboration Summit, 2019

Last week I had the pleasure of representing Nintex, with a group of equally excited colleagues, at the European Collaboration Summit in Wiesbaden, Germany.

The European Collaboration Summit (ECS), or #collabsummit as it’s known, is the Premium European Modern Workplace Conference and offers the chance to spend three full days getting the latest training and education around the SharePoint community. With 2,000 registrants, 115 speakers and 135 sessions, it was promising to be a great couple of days!

This year, the seventh annual ECS conference’s theme was clear: Digital transformation. Such a broad topic, yet the aim of ECS was to bring technology and business together, to help delegates understand the rapidly changing world of digital transformation and allow them to make clear judgments and decisions.

It was a place to be inquisitive and curious, and find out what other companies think about, and what their digital transformation looks like.

Sharon Cooper, Chief Digital Officer of the Economist Intelligence Unit, started with her keynote, “Digital Transformation is easy to say, but hard to understand, and even harder to implement.”  Cooper’s track record of digital transformation speaks for itself as CDO at the British Medical Journal Publishing Group and playing key roles in the UK Government Digital Service.

She imparted some key learnings, including:

You can’t automate something if you don’t know what you are doing

I pulled this theme out of her speech as it’s something we truly believe at Nintex, and it really speaks for itself but is often overlooked. Automating existing processes may not provide you with the opportunity to really improve. Identifying key aspects of processes, finding those workarounds that people have implemented and really understanding what the process is trying to achieve allows you to automate with the full understanding of the objective.

Cooper demonstrated this with the following quote from KPMG and their view on digital transformation.  It’s not just about the processes, it’s also about the people.

“Enabled by technology, but it’s success is about much more. It means taking on enterprise-wide change to evolve an organization’s business and operating models, as well as the way its people work – across the front, middle and back offices” – KPMG

Find the “yes” people, and dismiss the “no” people

Some people can handle change, others can’t. To be successful, you need your team around you to be on board with the changes and not fighting against them.

Digital transformation is ongoing, but not a long term project

That’s my take on the theme, but Cooper was really looking at how quickly the digital transformation world moves on. Her advice was you shouldn’t Capex a transformation project over five years, because you’ll probably need to replace it in three. Your ten-year strategy may last five years, but probably only two.

Stay agile and don’t lose sight of what you are trying to achieve, even if it means changing your plans.

Choose which kittens you can kill

Sounds harsh. Nobody likes the thought of killing kittens, but the wording chosen demonstrates just how difficult it can be to change the way people are working.

I’ve often used the ‘stop, start, do more’ approach:

  • Stop doing the things adding no real value to your business
  • Start doing the things you know you should be going but haven’t found time to do
  • Do more of the things that are working.

People can be precious about their kittens, those clever workarounds that make their life easier, and choosing which ones you don’t need anymore can seem to undervalue them. Making sure these people understand the wider picture is going to be key to getting this right. Make the tough choices. Be brave.

Building blocks, not Jenga

Start small and build on success, walk-crawl-run, proof of concept. Whichever approach suits your organization, make sure you build on firm foundations. It’s not worth playing Jenga with your critical business processes.

People, process, tools

It takes a blend of all three, specifically chosen and adapted for your organization, to make digital transformation successful. Make it part of the DNA of your organization. Foster a culture of collaboration, surround yourself with the right people, and provide them with the right tools. As Cooper says, “allow users to do what they need to do. They will find very, very creative ways to do it anyway!”


At Nintex, we understand the challenges of digital transformation and understand there isn’t a one size fits all approach. That’s why we are committed to being the most complete, powerful, and easy-to-use platform for managing, optimizing, and automating business processes to aid in your digital transformation. Whether it’s identifying opportunities for automation in general, or specific workflow solutions and targeted RPA bots, Nintex has the breadth of solutions and depth of expertise to ensure your organization doesn’t fall behind.


Interested in learning more about how the Nintex Platform can help you digitally transform your business? Sign up for a free trial today. 


Karl White

Karl White is the Field Marketing Director for EMEA at Nintex. He has over 20-years experience in the marketing industry, both marketing agency and client side. He’s built marketing solutions for companies like Dell Computers and General Motors, and spent 4 years at Microsoft where he implemented Skype’s marketing platforms and operations teams. Now based in Nintex’s London office, he is responsible for marketing within the EMEA region.

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