We speak to Roland Tritsch, VP of Engineering at Nitro, about the importance of a well-constructed Digital Transformation strategy and his recent involvement as guest author on a new book: The Digital Cookbook.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you look after here at Nitro, Roland.
Hi Elaine, thanks for having me. At Nitro, I run our worldwide engineering organization in two locations: San Francisco and Dublin. Engineering builds and operates our next-generation Smart Document Management platform, which supports customers around the globe in their Digital Transformation efforts. The platform enables documents to be a top priority in an organization’s overarching Digital Transformation initiative and supports the full range of end-user platforms, including desktop, browser and mobile. As a matter of fact, we have a big launch coming up in Q2. Stay tuned!
Digital Transformation is a broad topic and encompasses a lot. What does it mean to you and the engineering organization?
Good question. First of all, it means that we work on something that matters. It matters to our customers—but you could also say that it matters to humanity as a whole. Given the changing digital landscape over the last five years, our customers understand that implementing a Digital Transformation strategy is pivotal to their success. While Digital Transformation was once a nice way to give your organization an edge, it’s now a necessity. In fact, not having a clear Digital Transformation strategy will eventually put your company at a competitive disadvantage. Knowing that document management is crucial to a successful Digital Transformation strategy, Nitro’s Smart Document Management platform takes a non-traditional approach to helping organizations optimize their documents and workflows.
Beyond helping customers achieve their corporate initiatives, our solution makes a global impact by helping more people go paperless. For instance, we have eSigning and digital-signing capabilities that allow you to eliminate the dreaded print-sign-scan cycle. By replacing these inefficient paper-based processes, customers can print less, become more productive, save money by reducing spend on paper and printers, and—last but not least—reduce their CO2 emissions for a better planet.
From an engineering point of view, these are gratifying reasons to do what we do.
As an Engineering leader, your primary focus is on building high-value, high-quality functions and features as fast as possible. How do you balance the day-to-day requirement to deliver with trying to drive long-term, sustainable innovation?
First, let’s talk about innovation. Everyone strives to be innovative. For me, innovation means validated creativity. From my experience, innovation does not happen by sitting in a corner, thinking very hard about a problem, and having a “eureka” moment. Instead, I believe innovation arises when many people have many crazy ideas that are filtered by a strong understanding of business need, value proposition and impact. By immediately eliminating the ideas that don’t pass those tests, we can focus only on validating the remaining few concepts that can make a difference to customers.
To fuel this process, I think it’s so important for software companies to have a yin-yang relationship between Product Management and Engineering. One is focused on understanding what the customer wants and needs; the other tries to figure out what is possible. A mutually beneficial relationship like this breeds relevant, valuable and impactful innovation like the Smart Document Management platform.
Balancing the need to deliver with the ambition to innovate is not easy, but success comes when teams blend good processes with a supportive culture that embraces diversity. You need to create an environment where new ideas and different perspectives are seen as a gift, not a threat.
You recently guest authored a “cookbook” to help companies execute on a Digital Transformation strategy. Tell us a little bit about how you got involved and what you learned from the process.
The lead authors on the book are Dirk Krafzig, Manas Deb and Martin Frick. Dirk is a 20-year industry veteran in scalable Enterprise IT Architectures, Manas is a thought leader in Digital Transformation, and Martin is a career C-level executive with a track record of managing and implementing change in large organisations.
When Dirk approached me a year ago and asked if I would be interested in contributing a case study to the book, I was all in. One of the many customers we work with is Howden, which uses their long history of innovation in the air- and gas-handling field to provide customers with engineering products. They move fast and buy at least one company per year—the last acquisition being Turbomachinery Equipment from Siemens. Howden prioritizes Digital Transformation as one of the key initiatives to stay agile and competitive.
Working with Howden taught us that Digital Transformation can only be successful when extended to all digital assets, documents and workflows. We also learned how the lack of Digital Transformation can threaten specific aspects of an organization’s business model. One of the driving motivations for Howden to deliver successful Digital Transformation was to protect their after-market, during which they provide value to customers with parts, maintenance, and services.
The book is wide ranging and covers all elements of Digital Transformation, from top management initiatives right down to team goals. What would you say are your top takeaways?
For me, the main takeaway is to think big, but act small. That means that you need to build and develop a very good understanding of how a lack of digitization affects your organization—from which parts of the business are suffering most to the impact on your bottom line (the cost) and top line (the revenue). The value of your Digital Transformation effort must be clear. And yes, you will get the most out of it if you comprehensively implement it for all digital assets. By extending the benefits of Digital Transformation to every area of your business, you can create a lot of value for both your company and your customers. And the message here at Nitro is that we are here to help.
At Nitro, we believe that Digital Transformation should mean a positive change for every person across the organization, and our four-tier approach helps you advance to the next generation of digital processes. To take the first steps in this journey, visit our Digital Transformation page.