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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.

Digital transformation requires a people-centric strategy
The panel discussion focused on digital transformation, which involves using technology to innovate and generate new revenue. When asked about the key factors for a successful digital transformation, the panelists unanimously agreed that the factors are mainly people-centric.

"Digital transformation requires the right culture, management and leadership style, and communication," said John Kan, CIO of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). "For instance, the management team must support the issues addressed by the IT team by perhaps providing a structure for the CIO to report to the CEO. The entire organisation should also be supportive of the change, and this can be achieved by CIOs effectively communicating the values of the new digital tools and the benefits of transforming the business to all employees. "

Another way of ensuring that digital transformation is supported across the organisation is by leveraging hackathons and gamification, suggested Clara Lee, Global Business Information Director, DSM Engineering Plastics. "Since those techniques could influence employees to embrace digital tools for their work and innovation, they could help accelerate an organisation's digital transformation and support change management."

"In terms of encouraging innovation across the organisation, CIOs should incentivise employees to innovate," said Lee Kee Siang, CIO/Director of Technology and Innovation of the National Library Board. "Celebrating innovation and change will help sustain the innovation culture in an organisation even when there is a change in leaders or top management. Besides using rewards, innovation can be sustained if employees feel a sense of purpose in their work or the projects they embark on," added Amit Dhupkar, Vice President of Information Systems Division (Logistics & eCommerce) at Singapore Post.

Working with the younger generation could help organisations innovate too, claimed DSM's Lee. "Students and the younger employees tend to naturally incorporate mobile, analytics and cloud in their projects, while the experienced staff finds it challenging to do so. Therefore, working with new blood can help enable the exploration of new opportunities."

Building a digital transformation plan
Digital transformation is upon us and we are always surrounded by new ideas. "According to psychologists, if you are exposed to a new idea and you don't act on it within 48 hours, you are not likely to act on it at all," pointed out Joseph Pucciarelli, Group Vice President and IT Executive Advisor, IDC.

To facilitate this change, a plan is required. IDC's FutureScape 2016 report features twelve critical external drivers that shape global IT and business planning. Out of these, Pucciarelli highlighted four key factors IT leaders should consider when building a digital transformation plan.

Firstly, IT leaders need to self-assess and think about how far ahead they are within the industry in terms of digital transformation. According to IDC's Digital Transformation MaturityScape Benchmark Survey 2015, 65% of organisations are either 'digital explorers' or 'digital players'. Contrastingly, only 8% are viewed as 'digital disruptors', the highest maturity level. The awareness of digital innovation is essential because every business risks fundamental disruption due to new technologies, new players and new ways of doing business, said Pucciarelli. As such, IT leaders need to stay abreast of digital business initiatives that may have, or are having an impact on their business ecospheres.


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