Digital transformation inherently drives organisations into a data-driven world, and there is increasing proof that data-driven businesses perform better than their peers. In its 2018 predictions, IDC found that while it is seeing more companies becoming more digitally capable, there is a widening gap between leaders and laggards, with significant implications for those organisations that cannot make the transition to a digital-native organisation.
With a large number of factors involved with determining the success of a company’s digital transformation and data-driven exploits, Niral Patel, MD and Technology Leader for Oracle South Africa, provides some top tips on key considerations CIOs should take to help them on their way.
Go in with your eyes open
Successful digital transformation requires the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business and for a total change in mindset that empowers its leaders to get comfortable with challenging the status quo and with failure. The entire company must embark on the journey. Such change requires, first and foremost, an honest analysis of what short and long-term change is necessary and for open conversation to drive awareness of both the topic generally and the current developments in the organisation.
Strategy, before action
While it can be tempting to jump straight in, it is essential to set clear goals right from the start. Think about things like: What do we want to do for our customers in the future? Once the direction is clear, then you can work out the appropriate strategy; which should be implemented in steps.
To do this, companies typically take two paths: they can seek to optimise existing processes; or they can use data to develop completely new business models or to look for opportunities to expand their operations through complementary products or services.
This second model can be the more challenging path, requiring the company have the courage to move out its comfort zone, be creative, and think beyond classic product categories. It is often the more rewarding path, so long as new services can provide a clear answer to the question: “Does the customer really need it?”
“Shake off” the old technology infrastructure
You can’t implement the business models of tomorrow with yesterday’s technology. To become data-driven, companies need to modernise their systems and embrace new emerging technologies.
The cloud will play a large role in making this happen by providing a platform to support the deployment of new tools around development, integration and also AI, automation, IoT, blockchain and more, as well as support the storage, processing, and advanced analytics needed to make the most of today’s large volumes of data. Increasingly, the cloud is also being recognised as providing the best, high-availability and most secure platform for business-critical applications too!
Take down the partitions!
To exploit the full potential of a company’s new data-driven operations, CIOs need to break down the typical data silos that exist in most organisations. Only when all of the information in the enterprise is available, can customer-centric business models be truly implemented.
This requires going beyond just deconstructing physical silos – it also requires a mental shift; the active collaboration across the organisation is essential.
This means investment in the necessary structures and tools to enable employees to work across departments. These could include digital collaboration platforms, and the use of agile methodology and design thinking.
For non-cloud native companies training most likely will be essential to help them transition to this new environment.
Throw away blinkers
In today’s digital world, markets, the competition and technology are changing so fast it is hard to keep up, so agility and flexibility are key. The ‘fail fast’ approach of digital requires a much higher tolerance for errors than exists in many traditional organisations today. Enterprises need to be prepared undertake rapid experimentation and then quickly translating insights into action.
Silence is not golden
One of the key outcomes of digital transformation is a fundamental change in how organisations deliver value to customers – after all its all about delivering the best customer experience. This means that data-driven companies are ultimately “people’s business” -where innovation starts at the top and changes must be reflected by all employees.
To bring the entire enterprise along, communication is a critical factor. It doesn’t stop there. It is as important to communicate successes. Restraint is out of place here because there are not so many examples of successful digital innovation, and for whoever does first, why would you hide it?
By Niral Patel, MD and Technology Leader for Oracle South Africa