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Sun 15 Sep 2019 04:21 PM

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Technology as an environment: Beyond the impact of digital transformation

Every perspective around digital transformation captures how it has sparked sweeping changes across the business landscape. But what are the implications of this on success, metrics, skills, and society? Mohammed Amin, SVP-MERAT, Dell Technologies, explains how advanced technologies will move the world

Technology as an environment: Beyond the impact of digital transformation
Mohammed Amin, SVP-MERAT, Dell Technologies

Disruption is a process that plays out over time; sometimes slowly, but completely. It is imperative that organisations invest in a holistic and strategic approach to chart and respond to the pace of disruption. This investment calls for the convergence of technologies, to connect, collaborate and ultimately, create new services and experiences that will help weather disruption. The IT industry must transform from a support function to a true business capability to survive and compete in this new era.

Organisations need to consider a few key points before taking the plunge.

Firstly, readiness does not imply ability: If an organisation, big or small, is inclined to transform, then the topic drills down to whether the business has the capabilities to respond to its demands in time. According to the Dell Transformation Index, 90 percent of the organisations in the UAE and KSA believe that their businesses will struggle to meet changing customer demands within five years, even as 93 percent have said that they plan to invest in powerful technologies in the next three years. This could lead to a situation wherein we have organisations running the best technology infrastructure possible, and still not able to make it work for their business.

Secondly, companies need newer and faster ways to analyse data and build a truly integrated organisation. For example, a multi-cloud infrastructure has proven to unify the entire business by connecting mission critical applications, processes, data and services. This environment can also drive automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning and extend the ability to manage, move and process data where and when required. In fact, as data becomes increasingly distributed, we will see a host of new cloud models emerging to support a range of apps and services that are used every day, while 5G will increase its speed accessibility and delivery.

According to our recent index, while 35 percent of organisations plan to invest in multi-cloud in the next one to three years, 36 percent plan to spend on AI, and 52 percent on IoT. To each their own unique technology.

Finally, surviving and thriving in this age of constant disruption requires iron will but it also requires the right digital technology foundation. With this being said, transformation is not a destination, but a never-ending journey. Organisations need to train their staff as well as their processes to learn, adapt and steer themselves along this path of this agile process. In the UAE and KSA, 41 percent of organisations are sharing knowledge across functions by equipping IT leaders with business skills and business leaders with IT skills, according to our index.

Digital success metrics

For organisations to deliver value and provide compelling customer experiences at lower costs, they need to commit to a next-generation operating model.

This model is a novel way of managing an organisation, which combines digital technologies and operational capabilities in an integrated, well-sequenced manner to achieve incremental improvements in revenue, customer experience and cost.

A simple way to picture this successful digital operating model is to think of it as having two parts; each part requiring organisations to adapt to major changes in the way they operate. The first part involves a shift from managing siloed and uncoordinated efforts to introducing an integrated operation improvement programme, designed around customer and internal process journeys.

The second part is converging, aligning and applying these operation improvement programme to these journeys to achieve the desired impact and outcomes around an enhanced experience.

With this, we come to digital metrics. IT investment can drive operational efficiency from the get-go, but it is important to evaluate and measure the benefits to ensure that the investment is actually paying off. Digital metrics are critical to set expectations and establish an ongoing process for reviewing progress. An organisation will need to have a plan in place to evolve organisational structures and processes and measure its digital maturity in light of their investment.

Metrics should address both financial and non-financial objectives to enable IT investments to provide support to business initiatives. As an organisation digitally matures, it is imperative to keep a constant eye on the metrics. It will help create the baseline measurements to commit to continuous improvement and indicate whether progress is on the right track and if it needs a course correction.

Challenges of rapid digitalisation

In response to the rapid adoption of technologies such as AI, IoT, blockchain, and RPA, new roles are emerging that did not previously exist, such as multi-cloud operator, data engineer, enterprise architect and infrastructure security specialist. In fact, at least 133 million new roles may be generated globally by 2022 as a result of the new division of labour between humans, machines and algorithms, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF).

While individuals, without a doubt, must develop the required skills to keep pace with changing technology, organisations too, must encourage this skills development internally and within the academia, by providing the required learning solutions.

What companies often fail to understand is that successful transformation is about so much more than hardware and software. Most organisations will readily attest to the need for technology transformation to be accompanied by workforce transformation and development of human skills. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to enable businesses to future-proof their workforce.

It is critical for companies to ensure that their learning framework extends beyond standard training and development to also include a continued learning plan, which sets the organisation as well as the individual on the road to transformation. Efforts should be made to increase workforce learning, skills development and digital transformation.