Editor’s Note: The (Real) Challenges of Digitization

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Connected Futures magazine explores the challenges of the new digital economy. In the coming months we’re going to address these issues to help you be part of the digital world.

By Stefanie McCann, Editor, Connected Futures

There is no debating it, becoming a digital company is difficult. Organizations face reams of change when facing digitization. But if you don’t move in that direction, and move quickly, you (and your organization) are a prime candidate to be disrupted yourself. Disrupt, or be disrupted.

That was the theme of this year’s Cisco CIO Summit EMEAR, and as the editor of Connected Futures, I had the privilege of attending this highly regarded event.

During the gathering, 78 Chief Information Officers (CIOs) from 20 countries across EMEAR discussed disruption, security, business agility and other top-of-mind issues.

At a particular point in the CIO Summit agenda, the attendees were asked:

“What are the biggest hurdles on the journey to digitization?”

The CIOs were quick to list what they saw as their biggest challenges:

  • Cultural change: Does the executive leadership team understand the magnitude of change that is required? It is not a simple transformation. CIO’s need to help their organizations change internally and overcome resistance to change, on both the business side and the IT side.

  • Human capital and up-skilling the staff
  • Security: Physical and logical security
  • The lack of development platforms
  • Where do you start?
  • How much do you need to invest to manage the pivot from one way of working to another way of working?
  • The balance between short-term and long-term goals: Keeping the lights on and pursuing tactical digital innovation versus more foundational investments. If 30% of your staff is working to keep the lights on, that is a 30% productivity loss.
  • Regulations and standards
  • Delivering to the Business: Once CIOs understand the business – especially in a complex legacy environment – are we able to deliver on the promises?

Then the group was asked:

What is disrupting your business?

  • Legal: If we use cloud to disrupt our business then we have legal situations. It is different in Europe, in Kuwait, or the United States. Therefore, it is about cloud technologies on one side and legal issues on the other side.
     
  • Mobility:  When we were 18 the first thing we wanted to do was to have a driver’s license and drive a car. Today, our youth has other priorities. Why would they want to learn to drive a car when there are so many other opportunities of mobility?  This kind of behaviour will shift our economy and we need to react.
     
  • Connectivity: Who will pay and serve all this connectivity? For example, organizations will close down if connectivity collapses.
     
  • Education: We see opportunities for global education and doing education in a different way from how it was done when we were young.
     
  • Security: Intrusion, theft and other criminal acts will happen. But we need to evolve; we need to gradually improve this.
     
  • Increased market transparency: Every customer is able to compare services and prices. That is a massive change to the way we had interacted and did our marketing and sales in the past.
     
  • Financial Technology: PayPal and others are grabbing small parts of the business. Really niche players are trying to innovate and bring services to the customer, not in a comprehensive way but in a specialized way.
  • Customer interaction: We used to have direct interaction with our customers sitting face-to-face and giving advice. That has changed drastically. Now customers want to interact via the Internet. They no longer want to interact by a call center. They want to see and chat. And they want to have the information in their hands on the move, with smartphones and other mobile devices.

 

Here at Connected Futures magazine we know that this is just the tip of the iceberg as you try to deal with this new digital economy. In the coming months, we’ll be tackling these topics, and more, to determine what it takes to become part of the digital world.

But we also want to hear from you. Do you agree with these challenges? Are there others you would add to this list? What are your challenges in this disrupted world? How are you disrupting? What do you see as the greatest outcomes that will happen as organizations become digital organizations?

Leave your ideas and thoughts in the comment section or send an email. We’d love to hear your thoughts: connected-futures-editor@cisco.com

Becoming a digital organization will require new leadership skills combined with connecting people, processes, data, and things. Every country, city industry and business is becoming digital to leverage the unprecedented opportunities brought about by the Internet of Everything.