Why digital enablement is the top CEO priority – and the capabilities needed to achieve it

Digital enablement is set to become the number one CEO priority over the next 10 years, in what has been dubbed the first ‘digital decade’. But this movement isn’t just sweeping the boardroom. Increasingly, non-technologists at all levels of society, government and business are looking to disruptive and innovative technology to deliver valuable outcomes. Think of the app economy, where anyone can make a living off mobile apps, or Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull calling for Australia to embrace disruption.

Chris Gabriel, Chief Digital Officer at Logicalis Europe, says, “Real examples are everywhere and the potential is extraordinary. Millions of people with no concept of what IT departments do are finding that this is no longer an obstacle to empowerment. This tipping point has arrived because the capabilities and cost of technology – analytics, mobile, cloud apps – has never been better.”

Enabling digital in 5 steps

Back to CEOs. This decisive change in leadership priorities has occurred as the objective of digital transformation becomes predominant in their organisations. While the starting point will depend on the existing environment, there are five key capabilities the business needs to create the foundation for digital enablement:

1. Accelerate digital application strategies by building digital ready infrastructures

Data centre and network infrastructures need to be modernised. A data centre that isn’t built to respond to the immediate demands of the business is not a digital platform, and can only provide services in a way that is disconnected from the new agenda of the business. In the same way, a network that’s not aware of the applications running on it is not a digital network. Integration with the cloud is necessary to create dynamic service platforms in the form of software defined data centres (SDDC) software defined networks (SDN).

2. Transform where and how people work into digital enabled spaces

New digital business models can’t rely on old linear, analogue technology to deliver, and this means embedding digital technologies into the business to change the way employees work. As new communications collaboration tools enter the corporate environment, email is increasingly becoming more of a notification channel and less the place for long-term collaboration around vital business information and processes. However, a 2015 ZDNet article warns that, “…merely putting every knowledge worker into constant contact with each other in all digital channels doesn't produce results by itself. Collaboration, to have value to the business, must have a purpose, a directed outcome to reap the well-documented potential benefits.”

3. Create a new security architecture for digital transformation

Traditional security architectures could be likened to brick walls built around assets that prevented anyone from getting in. Now, with the changing digital emphasis, security is about enabling the business to interact more with users and giving them access to back office services that were previously out of reach, all in a very secure way. As UK digital magazine V3 put it in a recent article, security has gone from ‘denier’ to ‘enabler’. Contributing to the article, IDC Research Director for European Security Practice, Duncan Brown, said, “For a long time the security response has always been to say, ‘no you can’t move to the cloud, no you can’t use mobility technology’ and what we found was companies just did it anyway – but in an insecure way. So, increasing the capabilities of your security means you can actually enable digital transformation through cloud technologies, rather than blocking it.”

4. Translate big data into actionable business insights and value

Despite the focus on it being ‘big’, it’s not about the size of data, but its value. Whether it’s operational data or consumer data, the organisation needs to build out capabilities that allow it to not only store the data, but do interesting things with it. A Forbes article explains the data ‘lifecycle’; from raw, unprocessed facts in the form of numbers and text, to information (prepared data in the form of data visualisations, reports and dashboards), to insights generated by analysing this information and drawing conclusions. Not all takeaways are actionable, however. An insight that drives action will cause the business to rethink the way it does something, or even push the business in a new direction. Forbes contributor, Brent Dykes, states, “Maximising the actionable insights you receive from your analytics investments is important to your data-driven success.”

5. Transform IT operations to support the speed and scale of digital

IT must deliver a modern workspace and consumerised experience that empowers users and fits the way employees work today. The Internet of Things is massively scalable, but its full potential can’t be reached when coupled with existing processes. The solution is IT Service Management (ITSM) and automation tools, which are designed to manage enterprise services across a portfolio of organisational needs, and enable IT to accelerate to the speed of the business.

Digital enablement is a modernisation journey, and the destination is an environment where digital is not just usable by the business, but impactful on the business. To learn more about the steps to digital success, download our complimentary eBook, Why every CEO wants to lead a Service Defined Enterprise – and why the CIO needs to make it happen.

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Tags big data, CIO, Digital Transformation, CEO, Cloud, Data Centre, digital enablement, disruptive innovation, IT Department, IT security, Software Defined Network, IoT, IT Service Management, Modern Workspace, SMAC

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