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Interview with Dr. Priya E. Abraham

Dr. Priya E. Abraham is an author and consultant with a unique background that comprises anthropology, technology, and business. Her particular interests are encouraging a human-centric approach to technology, maximising companies' innovative potential and using technology to improve the human condition. Her book Cyberconnecting: The Three Lenses of Diversity focuses on Digital Transformation and Change Enablement: what are the key success factors organisations and business leaders need to focus on for successful digital transformation. We have conducted an interview with her.

What motivated you to write Cyberconnecting?

First of all, I should say something about my background. I am an anthropologist, who has worked in IT for more than 20 years, and I have headed a number of large and complex transformation projects. In this capacity, I have seen many enterprises struggling with the execution of their digital strategy and I realised that I am uniquely placed to support them with the human-centric aspects of their transformation processes. Apparently, the publisher thought so, too, as they invited me to write Cyberconnecting and writing the book helped me pull together the different strands even more and develop a coherent solution for business leaders.

“For technology to work, it must be human-centric.” Abraham 2015:3

What is your background expertise and experience in the Digital field?

When I was a student I supported myself by writing databases and teaching courses in standard software. Over the years I have continuously updated my skills, for example, I am a Pythonista, I have developed cloud-based gamified learning apps, and most recently, I finished the certification for the EU General Data Protection Regulation 2018.

However, the really important point is to understand the client’s business and the dynamics of any transformation process, and that’s where my business and my anthropology backgrounds come in.

Who do you want to reach with this book? What are your key messages and takeaways?

I think Cyberconnecting: The Three Lenses of Diversity is really important for business leaders. It gives them useful models and hands-on tools for establishing effective work-based relationships across technological, cultural and social boundaries to drive digital transformation.

What separates successful digital leaders from the unsuccessful is not the amount of money spent on new technology, but the management and leadership skills they use to make the investment worthwhile.

The book offers the required skills and capabilities, leaders need to develop in order to make digital transformation a success. This includes:

 Developing holistic thinking across the ecosystem, covered in The Environmental Lens
 Breaking through toxic assumptions commonly experienced in digital transformation, covered in The Lens of Perception
 Understanding the complex nature of customers/users, stakeholders, and employees involved in the process, covered in The Lens of Multiple Identity.

Leaders need to be able to do these skills and capabilities for themselves, of course, but they also need to be able to help their people cross these boundaries. A major part of this is the understanding the Three Lenses of Diversity presented in the book.

Please share with us more about your published article "The role of identity in excellence and innovation”

So far, the role of identity has been largely ignored in business. Yet, only people who feel free to bring their full selves, their full identity to work – and not just a fabricated copy of a self desired by the organisation - can deliver excellence and shape innovation. So-called behaviour-centric identity management is the foundation to building relationships in order to deliver value to customers faster.

It is essential that all people in the organisation understand the value of human connections as well as their own role in shaping their organisational culture. The focus has to be on the role of identity as the key ingredient to achieving excellence, from individual innovation, through to innovative practice at team and organisational level.

The Q&A Part 1 of the webinar you can find here:

The Q&A Part 2 of the webinar you can find here:

How much do you think business leaders can do now to prepare themselves for Digital Transformation in their organisations? What is the most challenging success factor that needs to be focused on?

Leaders can lay a good foundation for Digital Transformatio by focusing on the human element now. Digitisation is more than just the implementation of technology or a change of tools. It comprises the transformation of daily practices, workplace structures, reporting relationships, performance information systems, information sharing, and customer interaction. Even competitor relationships are thereby transformed.

Becoming a true digital organisation is not just about becoming tech-savvy. It means embracing a new culture and mindset, where hierarchy fades and innovation happens through networks. Business leaders need to develop this mindset first in order to enable the organisation to adopt the practices. In large organisations, the biggest challenge for leaders presents the departmental disconnect they are facing on a daily basis. They need to build cross-boundary relationships themselves and enable their people to do the same.
Interview with Dr. Priya E. Abraham Reviewed by JaamZIN on 9:42:00 PM Rating: 5
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