Igor Matich of Dynamo6: “COLLABORATE”

COLLABORATE. Get everyone on board working as one team and keep in mind, unite everyone under one passionate vision, so that you all have a common goal. This is innovation: things may go wrong, you don’t know what the other side looks like, but don’t underestimate the power of a diverse group of stakeholders all […]

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COLLABORATE. Get everyone on board working as one team and keep in mind, unite everyone under one passionate vision, so that you all have a common goal. This is innovation: things may go wrong, you don’t know what the other side looks like, but don’t underestimate the power of a diverse group of stakeholders all working toward a common goal.

As part of our series about “How To Use Digital Transformation To Take Your Company To The Next Level”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Igor Matich.

Igor founded Dynamo6 in 2012 and captains the team as Executive Director. Always learning and hustling, Igor has worked in the IT industry for over 20 years growing his career across technical delivery roles, before moving into management and senior leadership roles. Igor founded Dynamo6 to shake up the old ways of doing things. His vision? To build a company that can genuinely enable businesses to succeed in the new digital world and empower Digital Transformation programmes. Dynamo6 runs a multi-disciplined team of experts, from IT server/service management to software development, business analysis and creative UX. Dive deeper into the world of Dynamo6 here https://www.dynamo6.com/

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I grew up in Croatia (former, Yugoslavia), and after experiencing war as a kid, my family immigrated to New Zealand back in 1994. Today I am a proud husband and father of 4 children. Many Croatians are known to have a great drive and passion, especially for football. But aside from football, a sport which I still play, the other team sport I love is business and technology. It’s the people, and endless opportunity to keep learning and making tech better is what drives me the most. I consider myself lucky, but I believe I can credit some of this Croatian fire in the blood and interest in technology to becoming a CTO at a young age in my corporate career. Following this chapter of learning, Dynamo6 was started. It was a considerable risk; but my vision was, and is, everything that traditional IT was not: fast, slick, beautiful.

Over the last eight years, continuous reinvestment investment into the business and desire to get better as a team has led to strong growth. These past few years have seen the company’s transition to a more mature and enterprise-quality, focused business. Deeply involved in the services provided, I like to ask the tough questions, and I’m never prepared to accept the adequate. Anything that I’m willing to present needs to be at gold standard, and my team reflects that.

Building a team of experts is core to how we operate. Dynamo6 is strong because of our people. Our calculated approach is fueled by the ultimate vision for a more agile New Zealand workforce unconstrained by traditional IT.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

Whilst probably not funny at the time, I can see the humorous side now. At one of my first jobs in the IT industry, I worked as a Mainframe operator and looked after a small Datacentre. Once a month we performed a weekend generator maintenance tests.

On this particular Monday morning during our operations meeting, we realized we missed the test. Usually, this is a standard process that does not cause any disruption, so I thought we would tick off this task of our operations checklist and do the test on Monday evening. We go ahead and fail the power to the Datacentre and switch to generator power. It turns out there was a reason why this is scheduled for weekends and after hours. On this occasion, for the first time, it went wrong! The transformer and battery unit failed and shut the power to the whole Datacenter causing all servers to crash. I have never been in a Datacentre when it’s so quiet before — you could hear a pin drop. It was not a pleasant experience being in the middle of this situation. The whole company had to scramble together to bring all the systems and processing back online, which took us the whole night. It’s a funny experience to think about now, but a massive lesson early on in my career. Always follow operational procedures, the one time when you think you know better — things can go wrong.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Many people have advised and challenged me along the way, and I am grateful for their support and insight. I would say that Martin, Dynamo6’s non-executive director and my own father-in-law has helped me hugely. He has extensive business experience, which makes him a key asset in governing and advising Dynamo6. He is an investor in the company and utilizes his knowledge to guide Dynamo6’s financial planning.

I have the utmost respect for Martin as a mentor; he has always offered sage advice and guidance. He frequently said to me when I was starting Dynamo6, “don’t worry about the money, just do what you’re good at and keep your customers happy”. It’s a reminder to take off the mental handbrake and take risks. This is a core sentiment I apply to my business, there’s no certainty in anything, so we may as well strive toward what we’re best at.

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Dynamo6 has three main offices in New Zealand, so I do a lot of travelling between cities. I use the time to listen to long-form interviews and podcasts, which help me reflect and improve on my own life. I listen to an array of genres, everything from business to culture to health and performance so it’s difficult to choose a single one. To list a few, I frequently listen to; The Tim Ferriss Show, Freakonomics, and comedian Joe Rogan.

Podcasts resonate with me because they reaffirm my own thoughts and ideas and aid the formation of new ones. I place value in content that is stimulating, that drives me to be better every day. On top of professional development, I am a big believer in personal growth. Engaging with brilliant minds through podcasts allows me to expand my ideas, think critically, and keep current.

Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?

It all comes down to the ‘why’. I saw a significant digital change coming in all facets of life, the pure pace of technology was exploding, whether it was mobile, wireless, social media, big data, cloud or AI. Organisations will have to adapt to technology like they never have before, across all industries, so no one is immune. Dynamo6’s long term vision is to help New Zealand companies succeed in our new digital world and innovate on a global scale.

The key part of building a purpose-driven business is to foster a company culture where everyone is motivated by the company vision. This begins with good leadership and hiring the right people — but also a bit of luck along the way. The leader needs to create a space for everyone to thrive and everyone needs to feel empowered. In a services organisation, your people are your product, and it’s all about cultivating a team without a top-down approach. It’s crucial to create a work environment where mistakes are seen as learning opportunities, and successes are celebrated together.

I believe our strength lies in our staff’s skills and the complete faith in each other as teammates, evidenced through our group of experts who have a variety of expertise across the board. We’re not afraid to take a risk in the name of innovation. It’s not just about creating the ideal digital product, supporting Cloud migration, or leading an organisation’s Digital Transformation journey. It’s about continually looking inwards at ourselves as a company, and asking ourselves how can we be better, go faster, be different.

Are you working on any new, exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?

There are exciting new improvements in the Cloud Transition and Digital Experience space currently. With the huge increase in working from home, the demand for Digital Transformation has increased, especially in the form of cloud transition services. The pace of everything from Office 365, or Google Workspace migration, to adoption roadmaps, to digital change management has sped up.

COVID-19 has completely overhauled the work environment as we know it, and businesses need reliable technology to support that. Migration to the Cloud means the employees scattered across the city can all have access to the same information and complete their work efficiently as if they were in the office.

We have delved deeper into the digital experience space, with more extensive app and website development. We recently built a mobile app for a property management company that interacts with the physical space of their tenants. Users can now book rooms, unlock doors, and request meetings from the app. It also provided the property company with a more streamlined way of communicating with tenants and access to rich data. Dynamo6 has received positive feedback from our end-users which motivates us towards more innovative projects in this space.

Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion about Digital Transformation. For the benefit of our readers, can you help explain what exactly Digital Transformation means? On a practical level what does it look like to engage in a Digital Transformation?

Many people have different Digital Transformation flavours, but to summarize in a Dynamo6 sense, I would say that Digital Transformation is a complete overhaul of the traditional way a company uses digital systems or processes.

As an example, there’s a lot of systems that don’t talk to each other. Staff are using valuable time inputting information twice. Digital Transformation is exactly that; it’s a transformation that can put organization ahead of the curve. I see higher productivity levels all the time, companies cut out clunky old tech and save themselves time, money, and hassle by introducing new systems.

It can seem like a radical change, taking that leap. Digital Transformation is the opportunity to be innovative and make smart changes for your company’s greater benefit. It doesn’t just enable efficiency but can also lead to new innovation and creativity, rather than just enhancing and supporting traditional means.

On a practical level, there are several layers to Digital Transformation. It’s important to deep dive with the organizations. Ideating, defining a plan, validating an existing plan, aligning to a specific programme, and it should all be a collaborative process. It is crucial to understand the company thoroughly and to navigate the change together. Gone are the days when you task a company with a project and then return in 6 months for the finished results. It’s a collective and iterative process so the ‘Digital Transformation’ can be integrated into the company culture as seamlessly as possible.

To become better organizations have to ask themselves what success looks like and how do they measure it? Find out where the goalposts are. There are no goalposts in many cases; it’s a constant cycle to build, measure, and learn to create forward momentum. Digital Transformation will be the key to surviving this new technology wave for many organizations.

Which companies can most benefit from a Digital Transformation?

Anyone can benefit from Digital Transformation, and no one is immune to it. The goal is to make the technology work for you and your customers, not the other way around. Every company should review its customer journeys, and usually, that means digitizing procedures and updating technology or processes. If you’re comfortable with the way things have always been done, then you’re doing it wrong.

However, some industries digitally innovate faster than others, so it pays to be mindful of what customers expect. This ties back to analyzing your customer’s digital touchpoints and pain points, whilst asking yourself those questions; ‘How do existing customers feel looking at our competitors who may have a more slick digital service or offering?’ and ‘Does the difference add real value to the customer?’. It’s an ever-evolving experience to transform and stay ahead.

We’d love to hear about your experiences helping others with Digital Transformation. In your experience, how has Digital Transformation helped improve operations, processes and customer experiences? We’d love to hear some stories if possible.

We have seen promising results with in-house IT teams. Digital Transformation reduces the number of hours spent trying to simply keep systems alive. Without focusing solely on basic admin and maintenance tasks, the IT department is now more streamlined. They have the ability to concentrate on providing innovation value for the company. It always pays to maximize the potential of your staff. Your people are your greatest asset, and because of Digital Transformation, they now have the increased time and energy to create something awesome.

Integrating systems and processes has seen some great returns. We recently implemented a streamlined billing process for a customer which reduced manual tasks — efficiently repurposing people away from mindless data input towards more innovative practices. We’ve also had positive feedback on the outputs from one of our user experience projects. By putting the client in the driver’s seat, understanding their goals and their customers, we helped to create an intuitive user interface.

Has integrating Digital Transformation been a challenging process for some companies? What are the challenges? How do you help resolve them?

Understanding people is the key to technology. The technology is often the easy part of Digital Transformation; it’s the human aspect that is unpredictable. Humans don’t like change. We like routine and familiarity. Innovation through Digital Transformation can be seen by employees as scary or threatening, and result in those who dig in their heels.

Some people just can’t see that there’s a better way. That’s the way they’ve always done things, so why change? If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. But I challenge that thinking. Improve before life forces your hand. You always want to be one step ahead of the game. Digital Transformation means that others will be chasing your progress, trying to figure out your success.

At Dynamo6, we have created an approach that doesn’t overlook the human element of Digital Transformation. The key is good leadership that people trust. Then it’s a matter of understanding, engaging and educating. Keep the main benefits in sight the whole time. We show examples of similar companies and how Digital Transformation has contributed to their success.

It is vital to establish open and honest conversations with employees, allowing them a space to ask all questions before, during and after the process. Maintaining that support is crucial, you can’t implement Digital Transformation projects and then just up and leave. This is why Dynamo6 provides ongoing support.

Ok. Thank you. Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are “Five Ways a Company Can Use Digital Transformation To Take It To The Next Level”? Please share a story or an example for each.

1. WHY. Get the governance board and the entire organization to resonant with the WHY factor. Every member of the team needs to be united by one positive vision for the future. They need to be aware of the possibilities Digital Transformation can offer them. This involves genuine passion–when you really believe in something, others can’t help but catch on.

2. WHAT. Define what success looks like. Where are the goalposts, and how will we measure when we’ve reached them. In long project cycles, it’s easy to forget how far you’ve come. Tracking those performance measures shows much you’ve already benefited. Often it will seem unimaginable going back to the process of pre-transformation.

3. HOW. How will you gear up the internal teams? Your partners? How will you deliver the core offerings? This is the practical sense of creating a basic strategy, but having the flexibility to adjust and adapt to any challenges or changes along the way. Be wary of pigeonholing yourself into a rigid plan; no one can plan for life’s unpredictability.

4. UNDERSTAND. You think you know your customers, but you really have to pick their brains and bring them onto your physical team. Rethink and question everything you think you know about them. The chances are that there’s always more to learn. Use Design Thinking to your advantage. Take a step back to basics and reframe systems and ideas to revalidate your plan.

5. COLLABORATE. Get everyone on board working as one team and keep in mind, unite everyone under one passionate vision, so that you all have a common goal. This is innovation: things may go wrong, you don’t know what the other side looks like, but don’t underestimate the power of a diverse group of stakeholders all working toward a common goal.

In your opinion, how can companies best create a “culture of innovation” in order to create new competitive advantages?

Develop a culture where change is embraced, and mistakes are okay! Change needs to be seen as exciting, a step forward into the future for the company. Digital Transformation is not something to be scared of. CEOs need to lead by example. Employees need to see that the boss is excited about the new change, and soon enough, they will find themselves emulating that.

As I said before, having those open and honest conversations to mitigate the fear response when a new innovation is introduced. Cultivate a culture where questions are not only accepted but celebrated. Often, the fear is of the unknown, but by giving employees all the information, they will know exactly what to expect.

Digital Transformation is all about experimenting, testing, and learning from consequences. Digital transformation is a team sport, you have to value collaboration over competition.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

It’s a Mike Tyson quote, “Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the face”. Just get started, don’t mess around. Life isn’t perfect, it’s messy and unpredictable, and sometimes you just can’t spend ages planning. Know your purpose. As you go keep testing, validating, and learning. Adjust to the roadblocks and just keep going.

How can our readers further follow your work?

Dynamo6’s website is https://www.dynamo6.com/. We’re on LinkedIn too: https://www.linkedin.com/company/dynamo6

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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