Moving From Data Pollen to Honey: Digital Transformation approaches for Fail Fast Bees

This is the second part in a series about running a small business, using data as the lifeblood of the organisation. You can find the first part here, where I discuss ideas and opportunities for small organisations to use their data and criticism to move forward, just as well as large organisations. Here, I discuss some approaches for being a fail fast bee.

Bees have distinct personalities, with some bee nomads vagabonds rarely returning to the same flower twice, while more risk-averse conscientious insects keep going back to trusted sources of pollen. With technology, it's easy to stay with what you know. Excel, for example, is a great example of this. I'm convinced that most businesses are running on Excel. It's really hard to get people to use other tools and Excel is a true victim of its own success. 

Bees Fail Fast

Bees have two main categories of exploration and exploitation flight. In the exploration flights, bees tend to do short flights, and they conserve energy by being fuel efficient. In other words, bees 'fail fast'.

Like bees, organisations need to fail fast, and can reduce the likelihood of doing so by having a good cohesive and collaborative strategy, and a clear vision.

 Credit: Rahaij @ Pixabay

Credit: Rahaij @ Pixabay

Envisage Difficulties as your Training Budget

How can you fail fast but save face? One word of wisdom from the with Hertfordshire Growth Hub team recently was to put difficult experiences and people behind you, and allocate them to a mental 'training budget'. It means organisations can compartmentalise and parcel things up better and move forward. This doesn't mean that you go back to those situations but it does mean that your little bee antennae twitch better!

Bees Benefit Their Environments

In bee exploitation flights, they benefit themselves and their environments by collecting their pollen; a Bee quid pro quo, if you will. Digital Transformation is one area where I help organisations move from one place to a better place, using technology in order to provide business benefits. A great way to do this is to start with Excel, and move business intelligence to business analytics, then to predictive analytics, cognitive services and IOT, with a focus on demonstrating value back to the business early.  

 Credit: Three-shots @ Pixabay

Credit: Three-shots @ Pixabay

Bees differentiate between Pollen and Pollution

The static electricity produced by bees means that airborne particles stick to their wings and body. In fact, bees are helping scientists to monitor air pollution.  Bees are so vital for pollination because so much static electricity builds up in their fur that it draws in tiny particles, and pretty much everything will stick to a bee’s body and wings.

Bees need differentiate between the pollen and the pollution, and organisations need to do the same.

I think it's important to show that a company 'mission' statement matches what they are actually doing and achieving. You'd be surprised how often the internal vision does not match up the actual 'do'. Interestingly, a company's blog posts may not have much to do with the actual mission statement, and it can pollute the messaging of the organisation, both internally and externally. An example might be where the organisation issues a lot of technical posts, but claim to do digital transformation or be business leaders.

It's all about Timing

I also want to highlight that many organisations should take a pause before they move forward and jump into technical transformation, under the misguided believe that it is the same thing as Digital Transformation.

All of these things together lead to Action - to happy and repeat customers, more opportunities for me to employ other people and work with different organisations and partners on interesting solutions, and, most of all, be part of an industry that I have loved for the past 19 years, and will continue to energise and excite me.

On a personal note, I'm updating my theoretical and practical experience in Artificial Intelligence to apply to Microsoft Cognitive Services as well as Business Intelligence and Analytics. It's a journey. I'm working with two organisations in this area at the moment, and I expect that seam of my consultancy will grow as I reach organisations who are at the end of the spectrum, as well as the start. My quid pro quo is that I learn a lot, communicate a lot, and give back wholeheartedly to the organisations that I help to move along their Digital Transformation journey.

Any questions, thoughts, or advice - email me at