Deloitte discusses digital transformation: It’s role and the attitude needed

What is Deloitte’s role in organisational digital transformation?

This is a question that many of you will have asked; followed by, can they help my organisation?

Well, to answer these questions, Information Age spoke to Oliver Vernon-Harcourt, partner at Deloitte.

He explained that Deloitte works with companies from the start to the end of digital transformation projects, with the aim of modernising processes, enabling growth and improving efficiency.

“We work with organisations with the aim of devising a strategy for digital transformation, and help teams to get to grips with the new technologies, while also devising programmes to up-skill workers whose roles may have been disrupted due to automation.”

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Okay, but how does this work in practice?

Deloitte recently worked with Syngenta — an Agribusiness — on its digital transformation, and kindly, provided the case study.

Deloitte’s digital transformation impact in practice

By 2025, the world will need to feed around two billion more people than today — but with less land space available for agriculture than ever before. It’s one of the greatest challenges in modern farming.

Syngenta produces seeds and agrochemicals for farmers and growers around the world and lately this question has been keeping its 28,000 employees busy: how do you grow more crops for an expanding global population, using fewer resources and in a more secure, environmentally sustainable way?

Deloitte helped Syngenta use digital technology to transform agricultural productivity. The release below explains how:

For years, good crop yields depended mainly on a farmer’s intuition and practices learnt or passed down from generation to generation. Then came mechanisation – where farmers moved from manual and animal labour to machinery – eventually followed by the green revolution where the use of science really started to drive step changes in yields.

Today, however, many of those gains have reached their peak. We’ve therefore been working with Syngenta on the next evolution of farming: digital. Working collaboratively and with our digital know-how, together we are transforming how Syngenta interacts with its 500,000 farmers and growers around the world, getting the right products to the right farmers faster, and unlocking significant sustainable productivity benefits at the same time.

To do this, we’ve helped connect the processes, major technology platforms and digital assets that integrate Syngenta’s operations across its commercial, production, supply, research and development (R&D) and support functions – ultimately transforming the business through digital.

These changes not only help Syngenta better engage and serve its customers, they help the company manage and predict its business activities by having more accurate, real time data at its fingertips.

For the first time in the history of the company, and with Deloitte’s help, we’ve been able to design and deploy a solution that creates a basis for real competitive advantage and differentiation — Steven Hawkins, regional director, EAME, Syngenta AG.

A good practical example of this was a mobile app developed for field agents to use when they visit customers. It gathers data on what the farmer has been growing, their farming experience, the conditions of their farm and the market for their crops, all of which allow Syngenta’s field agents to gain more insight into that grower and the specific issues they face.

They can then provide the farmers with the appropriate package of seeds or chemicals to help grow and protect their crops. In turn, Syngenta can also analyse this data with machine intelligence to make predictions and plans for the grower, giving them insight that they would not otherwise have.

This example of working closely with Syngenta, and drawing on experience from across our global network of member firms – including teams from Switzerland, the UK and Belgium – highlights how together we’re changing the way Syngenta engages with its customers, differentiating itself from its competition, and positioning the company as a pioneer in digitising agribusiness.

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The technologies behind digital transformation: Not the point

A new technology, or technology-based solution, enters the marketplace almost every single day. The rate of change is unprecedented, and so how can organisations know what technologies they need to be engaged with to embark on a digital transformation journey?

In terms of the technologies that companies are implementing, Deloitte’s Digital Disruption Index found that the areas of cyber security, cloud and data analytics are now well established, whereas artificial intelligence, robotic and cognitive automation, and the Internet of Things are lacking scalable implementation, despite showing significant investment growth. But, this is not the point.

Vernon-Harcourt explains: “If you see digital transformation only in terms of technology implementation then you will quickly lose sight of the problem that you are trying to address. The key is to fall in love with the problem, not with the solution. Isolated and unstructured investment in new technologies is not digital transformation.”

“There can be a real danger when approaching transformation that people fall in love with the technology and forget why they need it in the first place. The important thing is to keep the user, whether that is a customer or an employee, at the centre of a solution, and then determine the technologies that are needed.”

Oliver Vernon-Harcourt, author of Deloitte's Digital Disruption Index, believes organisation's can't lose sight of the problem they are trying to solve with all the shiny technology on offer.
Oliver Vernon-Harcourt, author of Deloitte’s Digital Disruption Index, believes organisation’s can’t lose sight of the problem they are trying to solve with all the shiny technology on offer.

“In the latest edition of the Deloitte Digital Disruption Index we asked digital leaders how far they were to achieving their ‘ideal’ organisation, where digital technologies and ways of working are used to improve processes, engage the workforce and drive new business models. Of those who said they were close to achieving this, they were much more likely to agree they were: ‘fundamentally changing their business or organisation’; receiving support from financial and budgetary processes; were implementing and scaling technologies; and had higher levels of confidence in their own digital skills.”

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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