Modern businesses are defined by many things, but two approaches stand out in those that last: Change and Transformation. Since the year 2000 we have seen half of the 500 largest companies in the world close their doors or be acquired, because they did not embrace the concepts of change and transformation. This trend is not just in the United States and Europe, it is being seen throughout Africa, and most definitely in Nigeria. So, what can companies do to ensure they are not left behind in this modern world?
This is what today’s business executives faces – and nobody is feeling that pressure more than the CIO. A recent Dell study found that nearly half of business leaders don’t know what their industry would look like in three years. That is astounding, since three years is not a lot of time at all. In the 21st century, business moves at the speed of light as technology creates new processes, new markets, new lines of business and a new breed of customer.
Technology and business leaders from across Nigeria joined each other and Dell EMC to discuss these fast-shifting realities at the luxurious George Lagos Hotel. Taking time from their demanding schedules, they tackled the high level challenges and opportunities of Digital Transformation, the phenomenon that is sweeping the globe.
Opening the conversation with his keynote, Converged Chief Technology Officer for Dell EMC EMEA, Tom O’Reilly, highlighted that this shift has brought emerging business realities that companies should not ignore:
“Digital transformation is changing industries and businesses in unprecedented ways, with many business leaders recognising how critical it is for them to embrace transformation or risk being left behind. [In the Dell survey] 73 percent admitted that digital transformation should be more prevalent across their organizations and that a centralized IT strategy needs to be a priority.”
Nearly all CEO respondents agreed that user experience is a competitive differentiator. This intensified the conversation even further. O’Reilly referred to the new breed of customer, saying businesses must find ways to engage with them. After all, go back a mere decade or so and all over the world banks were against online banking or banking apps. Today those channels drive most of their interactions with customers:
“Even more changes lie in wait for us as the generation of digital natives matures and technology breakthroughs accelerate. Business leaders can’t predict the future, but they can learn from their customers, and how to best serve them. It’s the age of the connected internal and external customer, and businesses must adapt.”
Taking ownership of digital tools and platforms to shift business strategy is key to leading in this turbulent time. Yet with change also comes opportunity and the CIO is the best positioned to deliver on those expectations. It is already changing how CIOs and CEOs interact with each other, said Dell EMC Regional Sales Director Nazih Moufarrej:
“With the increased focus on embracing digital transformation to drive the business forward, we’re seeing a real shift in the role the CIO is playing. They are the strategic advisor to the CEO, balancing innovation projects that will allow the business to transform go-to-market strategy, deliver better, faster customer service and ultimately be more successful, while still keeping the backbone of the organization strong and stable. We’re seeing a real shift towards technology being at the heart of an organisation’s products, services and operations and the opportunities it presents are limitless.”
Such a transformation need not start as complicated. Companies often already have the data they need to begin gaining insights that lead to new strategies. But these must be built on a foundation of technologies that embraces the hybrid digital world, where business muscle is developed between on-premise and cloud platforms.
Technologies such as VxRail Hyper Converged appliances, Virtustream cloud workload management and VMAX All-Flash storage for real-time data are the tides that lift all the ships in a business. It’s not even about creating new channels, but also about improving older processes. If you are still stuck doing 14-hour batch jobs, the right infrastructure can reduce that to mere minutes.
The future of business will come through the efforts of the Connected CIO and the demands of the Connected Customer. As the Connected CIO event in Lagos concluded, the sentiment was clear: Digital is already reality, one that is also defining the future. The companies that don’t grasp this and make it part of their world are the ones that will not be here to see that future.
Converged Chief Technology Officer for Dell EMC EMEA, Tom O’Reilly and Dell EMC Regional Sales Director Nazih Moufarrej