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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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Tech promotes connections across groups in emerging markets

Digital technology users say they more regularly interact with people from diverse backgrounds

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Smartphone users – especially those who use social media – say they are more regularly exposed to people who have different backgrounds. They are also more connected with friends they don’t see in person, a Pew Research Center survey of adults in 11 emerging economies finds.

South Africa, included in the study, has among the most consistent levels of connection across age groups and education levels and in terms of cross-cultural connections. This suggests both that smartphones have had a greater democratisation impact in South Africa, but also that the country is more geared to diversity than most others. Of 11 countries surveyed, it has the second-lowest spread between those using smartphones and those not using them in terms of exposure to other religious groups.

Across every country surveyed, those who use smartphones are more likely than those who use less sophisticated phones or no phones at all to regularly interact with people from different religious groups. In most countries, people with smartphones also tend to be more likely to interact regularly with people from different political parties, income levels and racial or ethnic backgrounds. 

The Center’s new report is the third in a series exploring digital connectivity among populations in emerging economies based on nationally representative surveys of adults in Colombia, India, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, the Philippines, Tunisia, South Africa, Venezuela and Vietnam. Earlier reports examined attitudes toward misinformation and mobile technology’s social impact

The survey finds that smartphone and social media use are intertwined: A median of 91% of smartphone users in these countries also use social media or messaging apps, while a median of 81% of social media users say they own or share a smartphone. And, as with smartphone users, social media and messaging app users stand apart from non-users in how often they interact with people who are different from them. For example, 52% of Mexican social media users say they regularly interact with people of a different income level, compared with 28% of non-users. 

These results do not show with certainty that smartphones or social media are the cause of people feeling like they have more diverse networks. For example, those who have resources to buy and maintain a smartphone are likely to differ in many key ways from those who don’t, and it could be that some combination of those differences drives this phenomenon. Still, statistical modelling indicates that smartphone and social media use are independent predictors of greater social network diversity when other factors such as age, education and sex are held constant. 

Other key findings in the report include: 

  • Mobile phones and social media are broadening people’s social networks. More than half in most countries say they see in person only about half or fewer of the people they call or text. Mobile phones are also allowing many to stay in touch with people who live far away: A median of 93% of mobile phone users across the 11 countries surveyed say their phones have mostly helped them keep in touch with those who are far-flung. When it comes to social media, large shares report relationships with “friends” online who are distinct from those they see in person. A median of 46% of Facebook users across the 11 countries report seeing few or none of their Facebook friends in person regularly, compared with a median of 31% of Facebook users who often see most or all of their Facebook friends in person. 
  • Social activities and information seeking on subjects like health and education top the list of mobile activities. The survey asked mobile phone users about 10 different activities they might do on their mobile phones – activities that are social, information-seeking or commercial in nature. Among the most commonly reported activities are casual, social activities. For example, a median of 82% of mobile phone users in the 11 countries surveyed say they used their phone over the past year to send text messages and a median of 69% of users say they took pictures or videos. Many mobile phone users are also using their phones to find new information. For example, a median of 61% of mobile phone users say they used their phones over the past year to look up information about health and medicine for themselves or their families. This is more than the proportion that reports using their phones to get news and information about politics (median of 47%) or to look up information about government services (37%). Additionally, around half or more of mobile phone users in nearly all countries report having used their phones over the past 12 months to learn something important for work or school. 
  • Digital divides emerge in the new mobile-social environment. People with smartphones and social media – as well as younger people, those with higher levels of education, and men – are in some ways reaping more benefits than others, potentially contributing to digital divides. 
    • People with smartphones are much more likely to engage in activities on their phones than people with less sophisticated devices – even if the activity itself is quite simple. For example, people with smartphones are more likely than those with feature or basic phones to send text messages in each of the 11 countries surveyed, even though the activity is technically feasible from all mobile phones. Those who have smartphones are also much more likely to look up information for their households, including about health and government services. 
    •  There are also major differences in mobile usage by age and education level in how their devices are – or are not – broadening their horizons. Younger people are more likely to use their phones for nearly all activities asked about, whether those activities are social, information-seeking or commercial. Phone users with higher levels of education are also more likely to do most activities on their phones and to interact with those who are different from them regularly than those with lower levels of education. 
    •  Gender, too, plays a role in what people do with their devices and how they are exposed to different people and information. Men are more likely than women to say they encounter people who are different from them, whether in terms of race, politics, religion or income. And men tend to be more likely to look up information about government services and to obtain political news and information. 

These findings are drawn from a Pew Research Center survey conducted among 28,122 adults in 11 countries from Sept. 7 to Dec. 7, 2018. In addition to the survey, the Center conducted focus groups with participants in Kenya, Mexico, the Philippines and Tunisia in March 2018, and their comments are included throughout the report. 

Read the full report at https://www.pewinternet.org/2019/08/22/in-emerging-economies-smartphone-and-social-media-users-have-broader-social-networks.

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Nokia to be first with Android 10

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Nokia is likely to be the first smartphone brand to roll out Android 10, after its manufacturer, HMD Global, announced that the Android 10 software upgrade would start in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Previously named Android Q, it was given the number after Google announced it was ditching sweet and dessert names due to confusion in different languages. Android 10 is due for release at the end of the year.

Juho Sarvikas, chief product officer of HMD Global said: “With a proven track record in delivering software updates fast, Nokia smartphones were the first whole portfolio to benefit from a 2-letter upgrade from Android Nougat to Android Oreo and then Android Pie. We were the fastest manufacturer to upgrade from Android Oreo to Android Pie across the range. 

“With today’s roll out plan we look set to do it even faster for Android Pie to Android 10 upgrades. We are the only manufacturer 100% committed to having the latest Android across the entire portfolio.”

HMD Global has given a guarantee that Nokia smartphone owners benefit from two years of OS upgrades and 3 years of security updates.

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