Digital transformation – a familiar trend?

In the first of a nine-part series Rodrigo Parreira, CEO at Logicalis LATAM, explains why CIOs need comprehensive digital transformation strategies - drawing upon findings from a revealing study that polled over 700 CIOs from 24 countries.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution - characterised by the emergence of innovative business models shaped by digital technologies – is creating a wave of disruption across the world. For many reasons, this is a great time to be doing business; the digital era is rich with opportunity.

However, the digital economy also poses many risks – in particular from creative start-ups born in the internet age – famous examples include Über and Airbnb, but their less headline grabbing cousins are making waves in practically every market. Despite their impact, however, these ‘digital disruptors' are relatively few in number. According to our CIO survey, these innovators account for just 7% of the global business community.

Decide your fate

Businesses have a choice – take control of the wheel or coast along in the left-hand lane and let the Übers of this world take over. William Shakespeare once said, “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves”. Or in more layman’s terms – we make our own luck.

It seems, according to the survey, that the impact of digital has not escaped the attention of the wider business landscape. Many are taking steps to address the threat the posed by digital disruptors and, when it comes to digital transformation, the 2016 CIO survey points to an innovation or technology adoption bell curve:

  • 22% of firms fall into the early adopter category
  • 45% into the early majority, 22% into the late majority
  • Just 5% could be categorised as laggards.

In fact, these figures suggest an accelerated pace of adoption compared with a traditional bell curve – with innovators outnumbering laggards and a general skew towards earlier adoption. That is further reflected in responses that suggest 73% of firms worldwide are now digitally enabled to some extent. Clearly, the digitisation of business is well under way.

Digital transformation - Challenged or challenger?

So why do businesses need to transform? Quite simply, the unprecedented wave of business innovation is forcing their hands – not to mention the fact that the benefits gleaned by innovators and early adopters has many a boardroom licking its lips. On the one hand, they simply cannot afford to sit back and watch a new generation of businesses chip away at their hard earned market share – and they like the look of the efficiency and revenue opportunities that digital brings.

In terms of timing – there’s a certain frisson in the air – a consensus that we’re at a tipping point. More and more dump devices are becoming ‘smart’ as the Internet of Things takes off. According to Cisco, over the next five years, global IP networks will support up to 10 billion new devices and connections, increasing from 16.3 billion in 2015 to 26.3 billion by 2020.

All the while customers are putting companies through their paces and demanding instant, personalised services – and every customer demand that is met raises expectations further. Companies simply cannot keep up if they stick with old school technology. They must innovate in service delivery and the customer interface, and embrace automation if they are to survive.

As my colleague Chris Gabriel, our chief digital officer for Europe, noted recently: “As digital innovation accelerates and new competitors emerge, businesses will need to orientate themselves quickly to new digital driven business models and scale to the challenge posed by digital disrupters.”

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Tags Digital Transformation, IT trends, CIO, Digital, CIO Survey