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Five factors will drive digital transformation

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Digital transformation means different things to people and pursuing a strategy won’t necessarily equate to future success. JONAS BOGOSHI believes if businesses incorporate key ingredients into their transformation strategies, success will follow.

Digital transformation is having a huge impact on every aspect of the way we work, live and learn. Big data, social, cloud computing and developments in mobile technology have already drastically altered the landscape of business, education, entertainment and government.

Whole businesses have been built on cloud and big data, while existing companies have used the technology to diversify into new areas of business. And any company that is not paying attention to social media and mobile innovation is frankly living in the dark ages.

The pace and scale of change that digital technology is enabling means organisations must adapt to remain relevant. And they must use digital technology to do so. In short, digital transformation is now a business imperative.

The form this takes will vary widely, but the majority of enterprises will overhaul their digital customer interfaces, along with the customer engagement systems behind them. Customer services will also become increasingly personalised, with IDC predicting that doing this at scale will be a “complex enterprise-wide digital transformation initiative”.

In addition, IDC predicts that in the next two years, two-thirds of Global 2000 CEOs will put digital transformation at the centre of their growth and profitability strategies while the scale-up of digital business strategies will drive more than 50% of enterprise IT spending within the next 24 months, rising to 60% by 2020.
However, most organizations are still in the early stages of digital maturity, working on isolated projects that lack coordination. Even where digital transformation has taken place, it’s not always been a success: IDC found that less than half of such initiatives achieve their goals. This is often down to IT departments failing to deliver the speed or quality needed to chase new markets, respond to competitive threats or increase profits.

In contrast, the handful of organisations that fully understand enterprise-wide digital transformation are making increasingly-rapid progress, disrupting industries and leaving competitors behind in the process.

Digital transformation clearly means different things to different people and that pursuing a strategy won’t necessarily equate to the changes that are needed to ensure future business success. But if businesses are able to incorporate some key ingredients into their digital transformation strategies, success will more than likely follow.

What follows is a summary of the considerations exchanged in a series of discussions with more than 150 high-level IT executives from different industries across Europe about digital and IT transformation, highlighting what’s really needed to help CIOs thrive and overcome obstacles on their journey, from roadmap definition to multi‑phased implementation across applications, infrastructure and operating models.

Adopt a risk-taking attitude
Transformational change is often difficult to achieve as existing IT systems, organizational setup and culture create an inertia that is hard to break from. A culture of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ persists in many organisations, to the detriment of change.

Businesses must be prepared to take risks and move away from the way things were done in the past if they are to achieve IT-driven innovation.  Essentially, they should try new approaches that will help pave the way for digital transformation across the entire organization.

This could mean putting open innovation and dev ops programmes in place or assigning IT teams to specific business units. Looking at the talent side of things, a hiring programme focused on millennials would bring in native digital skills to support the new way of doing things.

Put data at the heart of things

Data is the fuel for innovation and should be used for value creation, prediction and process optimisation. Success in creating new services and ways of working depends on the data pipelines that flow in and out of organisations.

Some organisations have taken this seriously by appointing a Chief Data Officer who will have an overview of company data and how it should be classified. They will look at the rules and regulations for various data classes to ensure they are used in the most appropriate way.

Big data and analytics are critical in this, as they provide the capability to extract more value from data than ever before, slicing and dicing information in new ways that can provide new and useful insight that could be used to enhance digital customer experience and targeted marketing.
Create a modern datacentre
This secular shift requires and is propelled by a fundamental IT transformation, which embraces cloud as a primary IT architecture and consumption model, to manage millions of devices and the data deluge associated with them, to create large data lakes and enable ‑ for example ‑ predictive services. This all creates the need for a modern datacentre architecture to overcome the information siloes and rigid IT infrastructure that limits transformation and the implementation of a hybrid cloud IT infrastructure.

Hybrid cloud infrastructure is in fact a key enabler of digital transformation as it supports mobile and cloud‑native workloads as well as the existing business-critical and legacy workloads. At the same time, it supports innovative projects initiated by the business.

It is important that CIOs evaluate which workloads and data should move to the cloud so that the benefits of scalability, agility and service-based IT delivery are maximised. A strong business case should always be developed before data is moved between environments to ensure that it is being moved for the right reasons.

Foster closer ties between IT and business innovation
Business innovation initiatives are often limited in their success by being separated from the infrastructure, systems and processes required to support them. This siloed approach means business departments and IT aren’t aligned, making it harder for IT to deliver exactly what is needed.

Effective digital transformation requires an IT organization that acts as a strong partner with the rest of the business that provides the necessary tools and infrastructure to support specific projects. Bringing together the skills and talents from across business and IT will ensure transformation projects deliver the intended impact.

This is particularly important given that long term stable digital transformation requires continuous innovation and integration.

Choose the right tech provider
The final element needed for effective digital transformation is a technology provider that matches the ambition of the business and will be relevant in the long term. To be effective and successful partners to their customers, technology providers must provide support for a strategy and governance framework that spans operating model, infrastructure and applications, delivering measurable results in each phase of implementation to then also transform leadership and customer experience. This will truly help CIOs to thrive in the digital era.

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Security gets an upgrade – with a few glitches

Video doorbells are all the rage in the USA. Can they work in South Africa? SEAN BACHER tries out the Ring Video DoorBell 2 and Floodlight Cam.

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IP cameras have become synonymous with both business and home security. They are readily available, fairly inexpensive and, in many cases, easy to install.

Many are wireless, allowing one to place the camera anywhere within Wi-Fi range. As a result, they are a solution that can be customised to suit any type of security situation.

A world leader in doorbell security, Amazon subsidiary Ring, has recently extended its range of security devices, which now includes doorbells, floodlights, and Wi-Fi extenders, all designed to enhance and complement existing security beams and electric fences.

First up is the Ring Video DoorBell 2

It doesn’t look much like your normal intercom system, except for the miniature eye that keeps track of mischief that may be happening.  

Setting up is fairly easy. All one needs to do is connect it to the network by pushing the connect button, create an account on the downloaded smartphone app and get started with customisation and certification. Features like sensitivity, alerts, and numbers where these alerts need to be sent can all be preprogrammed. It is then just a matter of positioning the doorbell to get the best video coverage.

Getting the correct position may take some time, though, as cars and pedestrians may set it off. 

Next up is the Floodlight Cam

This works much the same as the doorbell. However, it needs to be mounted to a wall. Ring has you covered there: in the box you will find drill bits, screws and even a screwdriver to help you secure the camera. 

You will have to set alerts, phone numbers, and sensitivity. The spotlight allows you to change what time it should light up and shut down, and the package also includes an alarm, should its beams be broken.

Although this all sounds good, there are a few drawbacks to the Ring solutions. Firstly, unlike the United States, where doorbells are stuck in the vicinity of a front door, allowing them to connect to a network easily, many houses in South Africa have gates that need to be opened before one can reach the front door. This means that the bells are on or near the gate, and they are unable to connect to a home or business network.

Now, however, Ring has launched a Wi-Fi extender, but this requires an additional set-up process – and a fairly expensive one, considering the camera cost.

The Ring devices come with Protection Plans that automatically upload any triggered recordings to the cloud, allowing you to view them at a later stage. This trial period only lasts for 30 days, after which the plans can be extended from R450 for a three month period, up to R1 500 for a twelve-month period.

In practice

The attention to detail in the packaging and the addition of the tools really does put the Ring in a class of its own. No short cuts were taken in its design, and you can immediately see that it’s no rip-off. However, the Protection Plans need to be looked at carefully in terms of their costs.

Aside from this challenge, I found the devices very handy inside my house. For instance, a few times my external alarm or fence would sound, at which stage I would get a notification from my armed response – while I was away. But I easily logged in to Ring from my phone to check if anything strange was happening – all in a matter of seconds and while I was sitting all the way in Berlin.

The devices are rather expensive, though, with the Video Door Bell starting at R3 500 and going up to R7 990, and the Floodlight Cam going for R5 000. It all adds up quickly.

The cost means these solutions may not be quite ready for the South African consumer looking for a complete external perimeter security system.

Despite the Protection Plans, I did find them very handy inside my house. For instance, a few times my external alarm or fence would sound, at which stage I would get a notification from my armed response.

But, I easily logged in to Ring from my phone to check if anything strange was happening – all in a matter of seconds and while I was sitting all the way in Berlin.

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It’s not a ‘techlash’ – it’s a ‘tech clash’

By RORY MOORE, Innovation Lead, Accenture South Africa

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People’s love for technology has let businesses weave it, and themselves, into our lives, transforming how we work live and interact in this new world which we at Accenture are referring to – in our Tech Vision 2020 – as the “post-digital era.” But now we are being held back.

At a time when people see the potential of embracing technology more deeply into their lives, systems and services built for a old era are not supporting where people want to go. The next five years will see radical transformation as technology is realigned to better reflect people’s needs and values.

We look at the latest emerging trends that will transform how we live in work in this fundamentally different post-digital world.
Tech trend 1: “The I in experience” – helping people choose their own adventure

The next generation of technology-driven experiences will be those that make the user an active participant in creating the experience. Businesses are increasingly looking to personalise and individualise experiences to a greater degree than ever before, but are faced with stricter data regulations and users that are wary of services being too invasive. To address this, leading businesses are changing the paradigm and making choice and agency a central component of what they deliver.

Tech trend 2: “Artificial intelligence (AI) and me” – reimagining business through human and AI collaboration

Businesses will have to tap the full potential of AI by making it an additive contributor to work, rather than a backstop for automating boring or repetitive tasks. Until now, enterprises have been using AI to automate parts of their workflows, but as AI capabilities grow, following the old path will limit the full benefit of AI investments, potentially marginalise people, and cap businesses’ ability for growth. Businesses must rethink the work they do to make AI a generative part of the process. To do so, they will have to build new capabilities that improve the contextual comprehension between people and machines.

Tech trend 3: “The dilemma of smart things” – overcoming the “beta burden”

As enterprises convert their products into platforms for digital experiences, new challenges arise that, if left unaddressed, will alienate customers and erode their trust. Now that the true value of a product is being driven by the experience, a facet of the product that enterprises have traditionally retained strict control over, businesses must re-evaluate central questions: how involved they are with the product lifecycle, how to maintain transparency and continuity over product features, when is a product truly “finished”, and even who owns it?

Tech trend 4: “Robots in the wild” – growing businesses’ reach and responsibility

Robotics are no longer contained to the warehouse or factory floor. Autonomous vehicles, delivery drones, and other robot-driven machines are fast entering the world around us, allowing businesses to extend this intelligence back into the physical world. As 5G is poised to accelerate this trend, every enterprise must begin to re-think their business through the lens of robotics. Where will they find the most value, and what partners do they need to unlock it? What challenges will they face as they undergo this transformation, and what new responsibilities do they have towards their customers and society at large?

Tech trend 5: “Innovation DNA” – creating an engine for continuous innovation

Businesses should assemble their unique innovation DNA to define how their enterprises grow in the future. Maturing digital technology is making it easier than ever before to transform parts of the business, or find new value in share tools with others. The three key building blocks of innovation DNA are:
Continue on the digital transformation journey
Accelerate research and development (R&D) of scientific advancements and utilise elements such as material sciences and genomic editing to ensure practical applications are leaving these labs quicker than ever before
Leverage the power of DARQ (distributed ledger technology, AI, extended reality and quantum computing) to transform and optimise the business
Differentiation in the post-digital era will be driven by the powerful combinations of innovation and these building blocks will enable exactly that.

It’s not a “techlash”, it’s a “tech-clash”

Essentially, this new digital world is more intimate and personal than ever imaginable, but the models for data, ownership, and experience that define that world have remained the same.

Tech-clash is a clash between old models that are incongruous with people’s expectations. The time to start transformation is now. To this end, businesses need to defuse the tech-clash, build human-centered models and foster deeply trusting relationships.

For more information on how Accenture can help enterprises adopt the latest tech trends to future-proof their businesses in the post-digital era, go to: https://www.accenture.com/za-en.

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