The power of change was highlighted during the opening panel discussion of the Digital Transformation Conference 2022, in which three individuals talked about what they did right and what they learned during their successful and compelling digital transformation (DX) journeys.
Moderated by Rob Meikle, principal consultant of the firm Meikle 360 Impact and a keynote speaker at the event, the trio of speakers included Patrick Mandic, the co-founder and chief executive officer of Mavennet Systems Inc., Katie Gray, manager of strategic communications at the Toronto Zoo, and Robbie Madan, chief information and digital officer with Sundial Growers, a Calgary-based liquor retailer and producer of cannabis-related products.
Theirs were three extremely different transformations, but the one constant was this: There are many lessons to be learned every step of the way.
In the case of Mavennet, its DX initiative is made possible by Neoflow, which the company describes as a “platform for traceability of energy with the initial focus of digitizing oil and gas and currently working with U.S. Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.”
The project itself revolves around cross-border oil and gas import tracking using blockchain technology, in essence creating what, Mandic said is “a digital passport for this commodity.”
Describing it as the “nexus for oil,” through Neoflow, U.S. regulators now have what has been described as an “end-to-end view of the supply chain,” which allows them to “react to changes in the industry landscape, and drive evidence-based policymaking.”
In terms of overall challenges, those occurred early in the initiative and revolved around getting organizations to log on to Neoflow. “We hardly moved the needle for a long time and then in a matter of weeks, we got to critical mass and the whole thing changed,” said Mandic.
Grey, meanwhile, recalls that “right before the pandemic hit, we actually had just gone through a new strategic planning process that set us on a path that we were all really excited about.
“It was literally a couple months before the pandemic hit and our strategic mission was established to be connecting people, animals and conservation science to fight extinction. It was clear, it was strong; everybody was really behind it. And then the pandemic happened so connecting the people to our animals became very difficult when the zoo was closed.
“And we were traditionally a very brick and mortar organization. People came to our zoo, we had communications, we had social media, we had a website, but really, we relied very heavily on how we connected with people when they came to our zoo and had the experiences here.
“It really turned us on our heads. And we had to do some very quick adaptations and innovative thinking around if the people can’t come to us, how can we come to the people? How can we bring the experiences, the learning, the conservation, the science, the fun to them?”
The zoo is now open, and with it an assortment of new digital experiences have been introduced thanks to the work of staff and also volunteers. One metric is proof of the success of the makeover. Prior to the pandemic, the Toronto Zoo had 330,000 followers across all of its social media platforms. As a result of the work Gray and others have done, that number now stands at more than 900,000.
As for Sundial Growers, Madan says the focus for the last couple of years has “been around a digital transformation that touches on operational efficiencies, and rebuilding our core platforms to build the organization back up. Our legacy systems, when we started this implementation, were really out of date, they didn’t have a lot of capabilities built in, we couldn’t provide the retail services that our customers expected out of our core platform.
“(They) had been stretched really thin. It was actually a system that was made for 30 to 50 stores. And it just couldn’t scale. Our company operates over 250 stores across Canada. And it was just not an efficient system. We had issues with data synchronization, which led to poor decision making from our merchant teams, a lot of manual processes. It just wasn’t meant for the scale at which we were operating.”
Since “something better was needed,” he adds, a major DX initiative took place in order to “move the organization forward.”