THE DIGITAL CHAMPIONS CLUB

The Story

Organisations need internal experts who can make smart technology decisions

58%

of SMEs feel they lack digital capabilities

50%

of SMEs feel they lack clarity on the ROI of digital

50%

of SMEs struggle with managing employee change

The idea

The Digital Champions Club story started back in 2015 when the program’s founder, Simon Waller, was consulting to a number of SMEs. With a background in business improvement, strategy, leadership and technology, Simon was regularly being asked by organisations to help them identify value adding technology opportunities and then working with them to implement solutions.

The outsourced expert approach, whether it be consultants or IT services has been the de facto way for many SMEs to manage their technology requirements. But Simon realised that in a period of accelerating digital change this approach had its limitations.

The four key issues with the outsourced approach.

  1.  Cost. Outsourced staff  cost more per hour than internal employees. Although there is often a requirement for some expert knowledge, you are often paying expert rates for work that your own staff could do. As technology becomes more pervasive this cost is going up.
  2. Time. When we engage consultants or outsource IT, time is the defining factor of cost. As such, we generally only engage external experts for the minimum time required. Consequently, there is limited capacity for them to identify and deliver on opportunities outside the defined scope of work.
  3. Intimacy. Unless external experts are deeply embedded in the organisation they will never truly understand the real needs of the people in it. As a result, they are likely to deliver ‘cookie cutter’ solutions that aren’t the best fit (though they might try and dress this up as ‘best practice’).
  4. Consistency. When an external expert leaves, their knowledge leaves with them. The likely outcome of which is nothing else will happen until they come back again.

What organisations really needed were internal experts. Individuals skilled up and supported to not only make smart technology decisions but to take a hands on approach to implementing solutions.

Thankfully, three of Simon’s clients agreed and in 2015 Simon started working on a program that would eventually become the Digital Champions Club.

The first bootcamp

Over the next six months Simon started looking at different learning communities to find out what were the characteristics that made them successful. He identified three core principles that made these communities successful and these would become the foundation of the Digital Champions Club.

Continuous learning. In a world of rapid change the status quo is no longer the status quo. The only way to keep up is to learn continuously.

Commitment to action. When it comes to learning, doing anything is always a better approach than doing nothing.

Share openly. People will always learn faster if they learn together. You can replicate successes and avoid others’ mistakes.

The program officially came into being on the first Friday in March, 2016. On that day the first six digital champions from three organisations across three states flew in to Melbourne for the first ever Digital Champions bootcamp.

The first ever Digital Champions bootcamp

The Digital Champion book

The Digital Champion book

Following the first bootcamp Simon realised that he needed to capture on paper the methods and ideas that were otherwise floating around in his head.

So between speaking engagements on a 10 day work trip to Malaysia, he wrote the first draft of The Digital Champion: Connecting the Dots Between People, Work and Technology. By the second bootcamp in June, the first printed copies were in the hands of the champions.

If you’re interested in obtaining a copy, please click the following link below (it will take you to another website so please make sure you come back when your done). If on the other hand you want to read more about the program, please read on.

The Community Grows

Since the beginning of 2016 the program has grown rapidly. As of writing this, there are now more than 15 member organisations with nearly 30 digital champions enrolled in the program.

To help ensure all the member organisations are adequately supported, the number of coaching staff has also grown over time. Firstly with the addition of Kate Fuelling at the beginning of 2017 and then with the addition of Gabe Alves six months later. In addition the Club has had over thirty industry experts come and share their knowledge with the digital champions community.

To cater for the Club’s growth and to ensure members get the best possible learning experience the quarterly bootcamp is also now live streamed between digital champions events held simultaneously on both the east and west coasts of Australia.

Where to next?

The digital champions program is in constant beta, evolving in line with the needs of its members. For some of our second year members this has meant developing internal mentors to support other digital champions in their organisation, for others it has meant focusing on bigger, more valuable projects.

But over the long term the strength of the program ultimately comes down to the quality of it’s members. We are always looking for organisations interested in being part of a genuinely collaborative digital transformation program. If that sounds like your organisation, we hope you will get in touch.