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Keeping up with the demands of digital transformation

Zafirah Salim and Nurdianah Md Nur | Sept. 15, 2015
Speakers at the CIO Summit in Singapore talk about the key considerations for digital transformation and provided advice on overcoming related challenges.

Traits of transformers
TC Seow, Editor of CIO Asia, next took the stage to talk about the traits of transformers, which refers to companies that have successfully transformed themselves by digitalising their business processes.

Firstly, transformers ensure that there is a strategic alignment between the IT and business teams before embarking on digital transformation. Secondly, CIOs of transformers are usually strongly supported by the management team. For instance, transformers might have a steering committee comprising of senior executives from the business and IT teams, as well as leaders from external partners involved. This team would meet up regularly with the IT/project team to provide guidance and ensure that the project is delivered on time.

Thirdly, transformers embrace the agile development methodology to build the right product. This empowers them to continuously improve or change their solution to optimise its value throughout development, enabling them to sustain their competitiveness. Lastly, transformers invest in their staff by providing the right knowledge and training for them to fully utilise new IT tools. This enables employees to be more efficient and productive, as well as better support the business needs by undertaking new roles or tasks.

Turning business outcomes into reality with digital transformation
"Disruption happens and it impacts every industry. Failure to respond to digital innovation can be fatal," said Stuart Fox, Group Director, Data Centre, Dimension Data. To cope in this digital era, there are three business imperatives IT leaders should take note of.

Firstly, companies should be on the offense and start taking advantage of new technologies to 'go digital'. This is to align themselves with customers who are increasingly shifting their behaviours to be more digital. They are expecting instant, transparent, personalised and ubiquitous services, noted Fox.

Secondly, companies should look at leveraging IT to help increase innovation and improve performance and reliability, while lowering the cost of existing applications and data centre infrastructure.

Lastly, companies should adopt a laser-like focus on cyber risk. The security paradigm has changed drastically, from a perimeter defense to an intelligence-driven security model. Driven by technologies like cloud, social, mobility, big data and analytics - also known as the 'third platform' - Fox said that it serves as a foundation for business process transformation. Adoption of third platform technologies can impact the way businesses engage with their customers, the speed at which they deliver products and services, the way they innovate, as well as the resiliency and reliability of their operations. With such high stakes, businesses are increasingly driving technology initiatives.

Creating a culture of innovation
In his presentation titled "Jungle Innovation", Neal Cross, DBS Bank's CIO, shared some pointers on innovation based on his personal side project. The project involved setting up a social enterprise in Sumatra, called Hotel Orang Utan. With the belief that innovation is not about technology or processes but about solving complex problems, he asserted that CIOs need to ensure that the innovations in their companies are customer-centric. This requires organisations to engage with their customers and place customers' problems front-and-centre before developing a solution, unlike the norm in which solutions are built based on the company's perceived needs of their customers.  


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