The CIO priority: The state of digital transformation

Progress is patchy, among the top barriers impeding progress includes data privacy and security concerns; lack of senior support and sponsorship; and a lack of the right technologies to work at the speed of business

By David Goulden, President, Infrastructure Solutions Group at Dell EMC

Look around and see how dramatically digital technologies are revolutionizing entire industries, enabling new business models while disrupting familiar ways of doing business. Perhaps no industry illustrates this more starkly than media and entertainment and the proliferation of online journalism and crowd sourced content. The insurance industry could be next, where the deployment of sensors and advanced analytics are changing how risk gets measured and priced, how buyers compare policy offers and how policyholders file claims from mobile devices, submitting video for documentation. Looking further into the future, what will be the impact of driverless vehicles on rides for hire and trucking, not to mention today’s Uber drivers and teamsters who earn a living hauling people and freight from point A to B?

In this era of digital disruption, the seminal challenge for every enterprise chief information officer is helping to create the digital DNA needed to compete in a rapidly changing industry:  How to get the business more savvy on the potential power of technology. How to be at the table of decision makers as a leading stakeholder in the business transformation.  How to push information technology within the enterprise beyond yesterday’s function as a system of record into a more innovative role as a system of engagement with customers and partners. In short, how to be a successful champion of the digital future.

To better understand the challenges our customers face, we commissioned a survey of 4,000 business leaders at large and mid-size enterprises, in 16 countries and across a dozen industries. Today, we are excited to release the findings in our Digital Transformation Index sponsored by Dell Technologies.
What did we learn? Enterprises see both disruption and business opportunity on the horizon, with half admitting they don’t know what their industry will look like in three years. Nearly as many believe there is a good possibility their business model could become obsolete within five years. For some industries, the threats of disruption are more urgently felt than in others. And some developing countries, such as India, are much further along the digital transformation index than more developed nations.

Across the board, we found that organizations have initiated digital transformations with varying degrees of success. Progress is patchy, which is not surprising considering the size of our sample. Among the top barriers impeding progress are: a lack of budget and resources; lack of in-house skills and expertise; data privacy and security concerns; lack of senior support and sponsorship; and a lack of the right technologies to work at the speed of business.

Asked to name their top priority IT investments over the next one to three years, respondents told us:

1. Converged infrastructure
2. Ultra-high performance compute technologies
3. Analytics, big data and data processing
4. Internet of Things technologies
5. Next generation mobile applications

At a practical level (going beyond theoretical, abstract thinking to actual implementation), digital transformation has been a topic of industry discussion for at least a couple of years now, increasing in volume since the 2014 publication of Leading Digital: Turning Technology Into Business Transformation, by George Westerman and Andrew McAfee, both of the Center for Digital Business at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Didier Bonnet, of Capgemini, a Dell EMC Partner. Consulting firm PwC and research firm IDC have each contributed valuable research in this arena, too. We believe our Digital Transformation Index adds new insights on the state of digital transformation today, and a fresh look at how businesses and industries and the largest national economies of the world stack up relative to one another at this point in time. The bottom line? Many still have a long way to go, but most still have a huge opportunity to get this right.

digital transformation
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