Digital Transformation as an Undertaking
By Alan Stone, Senior IT Director - Emerging Markets, Microsoft Corporation
I’ve been part of Microsoft IT for 17 years and involved with technology for much longer. While the tech industry has always been dynamic, the pace of innovation and change continues to increase rapidly – so much that it is generally agreed that the velocity, scope and impact of technological change has led the world into its fourth industrial revolution. Digitally mature companies consistently perform better than their less mature peers, with a 2015 study by MIT’s Sloan Centre for Systems Research (CISR) showing a 12 percent premium on market valuation and a 26 percent premium on profitability measures for example. In this context it is no surprise that 86 percent of CEOs now consider digital their number one priority. Decision makers in Asia are moving more slowly as a recent study shows that 57 percent of business leaders in our region either do not have, or have only a limited digital strategy in place. Concerns about perceived issues with cost, security, and lack of digital skills were the primary barriers raised.
“As organizational seams smoothen and all parts of the company become more invested in each other’s success, the ability for IT professionals to collaborate and to take a user first perspective becomes foundational.”
For many years there have been conversations around ever greater overlap between IT and the various business groups it serves. Digital Transformation in my mind is really the culmination of that conversation – for us it means that the IT organization steps up and enables collaboration across organizational boundaries. These service offering bring together all facets of IT (whether delivered by Microsoft IT or the business groups themselves) and reflect the core processes and capabilities of the company. The owner of the service offering can be a leader from either IT or the business – the key thing is that the team involved establishes a vision for the service offering, the roadmap to achieve the vision, and the dependencies on other offerings to deliver the planned business outcomes. Examples of service offerings are product engineering, marketing, and human resources.
One of the things I’ve realized as we start this journey is that, Digital Transformation is an intensely human undertaking. As you’d expect engage your customers; empower your employees; optimize your operations; Transform your products. Here are some things that the companies should do:-
- Engaging Customers by building a customer engagement infrastructure which can enable a 360 degree view of the customer which enables her to find, try and buy what she needs in a frictionless way.
- Empowering our employees by securely breaking down information barriers, which in turn allow us transform business processes and reinvent collaboration productivity.
- Optimizing our operations by migrating to the cloud, freeing resources to fund transformational efforts.
- Generating insights which will transform our products through the creation and democratic availability of connected services and rapid data capture and analysis.
Making progress in these areas means thinking deeply about the scenarios our employees face, and then embracing a growth mindset in which everyone on the IT team feels empowered to leverage the best of technology and of themselves to make a difference to the company and its customers. As organizational seams smoothen and all parts of the company become more invested in each other’s success, the ability for IT professionals to collaborate and to take a user first perspective becomes foundational. To support this we continue to evolve the roles performed by the people in our IT teams. The introduction of the Area Capability Lead (ACL) role for example has enabled us to fully understand local and global business capability requirements, and in turn to bring together the right cross organizational resources to reali
se measurable business outcomes.