I am a zealous member of a tribe often referred to as the digerati. And in my tribe, crystal ball gazing is often just a trip to the innovation lab. As fellow computer scientist Alan Curtis Kay stated: 'The best way to predict the future is to invent it.' In recent months, we have witnessed digital companies quite literally invent the future – a new world of business defined by radically different digital rubrics. So when I think about the near future and the one big idea that will shape it, I strongly believe it is Enterprise Digitalisation.
Digitalisation is a coming together of physical and digital resources like never before, opening an unforeseen ocean of opportunities for disruptive business innovations. Peter Sondergaard put it succinctly saying 'Digitalisation is not about zeroes and ones – it’s about the transformation of your business.' Research firm Gartner refers to digitalisation of business as the 'Third era of enterprise IT'.
But most businesses have been caught unaware. In a global survey of CIOs, Gartner found that '51% of CIOs are concerned that the digital torrent is coming faster than they can cope' and '42% of CIOs feel that they don’t have the talent needed to face this future.' This unpreparedness has led to a sporadic and erratic approach in implementation as well.
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Companies have dipped their feet in digitalisation through customer-facing functions for immediate business benefits while not thinking through integration with the ecosystem. As the business landscape around us evolves relentlessly and at an ever increasing speed, businesses must stop this tinkering with digitalisation. To stay in the game, they must commit to transforming themselves into full digital businesses or be prepared to be ousted. The time is ripe for a total transformation through enterprise digitalisation.
The future in 2015
In 2015, I believe we are going to witness such a large-scale enterprise digitalisation across companies and industries. A strong coupled economy ensures that this tsunami will be felt across countries and continents. This transformation will envision collaboration across customers, employees, partners, suppliers and broader ecosystems. To build this there will be a long-term commitment to an integrated approach at the Board level. Thus the best impact in leveraging digital will be obtained through a long-term and holistic approach which incorporates existing customer facing front-end digital functions with operational efficiencies at the back-end.
Do note that this would need to assess the impact of digitalisation among competitors – even unforeseen ones lurking across industries. It would need to measure the level of digitalisation internally across functions and disciplines to ensure there are none dragging down the pace. Digitalisation will go far beyond ‘bolt-on’ SMAC technology (social, mobile, analytics and cloud). It demands a comprehensive transformation across the length and breadth of an organisation to move beyond functional efficiencies towards cross functional agility.
Digitalisation starts here
The process has already started – digitalisation has moved beyond the confines of the boardroom. The change is already being eagerly embraced by our stakeholders. Be it customers, employees, competitors, or even products and insights – they are all going digital. To make digitalisation a success, we need to assess the current state of the enterprise, the potential target state, along with the expected cost and ROI of this transformation. This helps to identify gaps and prioritise and focus on building the right capabilities to infuse digitalisation.
The journey is then flagged off with a digital master plan aligned with the corporate vision. The building process entails a methodical exercise that includes optimising existing systems, application modernisation, migration to cloud platforms, as well as weaving a new data fabric integrating all sources – old, new, internal and external. When implemented in a systematic manner, such digitalisation weaves its magic across the organisation.
Sourced from Anant Gupta, President and CEO of HCL Technologies