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By Dmitri Chen, COO and VP Specialty Sales, EMC Asia Pacific and Japan
The rapid pace of technology development has dramatically changed the way we do business. In today’s connected world, businesses continually face new challenges as they try to meet evolving customer demands and deliver an ‘always on’ service. Modern consumers expect to find relevant information and make decisions instantly using the smart devices at their fingertips. Businesses are searching for ways to provide tailored experiences to retain existing customers and attract new ones. At the same time, they’re balancing customer expectations with attempts to stay ahead of existing and emerging competitors. Agility and innovation are the cornerstones of success in this complex landscape.
The New IT Landscape
Four core technology trends pave the way for businesses in the Asia Pacific region to compete with their peers in the US cloud computing, social media, mobile access and data analytics. In the next two years, IDC predicts more than 60 percent of the region’s information and communications technology spending will be related to these 3rd platform technologies. This will create a whole new set of jobs for IT professionals including new application developer, data scientist and digital transformation officer roles as the value delivered by the IT department shifts towards a service delivery model.
Senior executives and board members realise their organisations need to be forward-thinking, using technology to predict future requirements. IDC forecasts 60 percent of the region’s largest enterprises will have digital transformation at the centre of their corporate strategy by 2017.
One of the biggest trends influencing this push for digital transformation is the Internet of Things (IoT). Asia Pacific is expected to play a prominent role, accounting for more than 40percent of the total worldwide spend in 2015. This represents a massive opportunity for regional businesses.
With billions of sensors connecting all manner of devices to people and each other from household appliances and medical equipment to cars and security systems the IoT trend will also open up a whole new world of possibilities and challenges.
Shifting Business Roles
As businesses focus on leveraging technology to drive digital transformation, the roles of C-level business executives like the COO and CIO will continue to morph. While these two functions have historically been quite separate, the shared focus on customer experience has sharpened and both are now responsible for delivering positive experiences.
The customer journey has become increasingly fragmented, to the point where you can engage or lose a customer in a single click or swipe. This means it’s more important than ever to deliver cohesive, engaging customer experiences. To respond to these changes, it’s critical that businesses develop an understanding of their customers and work backwards to deliver the right solutions where and when they’re needed.
As COO, I spend a lot of time speaking directly with customers to understand their business evolution and the challenges they face. The voice of each customer helps to craft our overall strategy, guiding the development of our products and solutions. Throughout the organisation from sales to IT the focus is firmly on delivering unique insights and positive business outcomes for customers. Across all industries the CIO and COO are collaborating more frequently than ever before to implement new ideas and enable innovation.
Moving to the cloud
Business leaders are recognising a need to streamline and automate wherever possible. CIOs and COOs are looking for ways to capture the tremendous amount of possibility that exists in the new world of IT, by investing in technology that will help them implement mobile strategies and extend the value of IT. However, they must also balance these aims with the need to manage legacy infrastructure investments and reduce operational costs.
To manage these conflicts, organisations are turning to cloud technologies to transform business processes and make them suitable for the digital era. Planning a journey to the cloud is crucial for all IT departments, because every industry now has disruptive players that are powered by next-generation technologies.
As an IT services company we’ve gone through this transformation, moving to a hybrid cloud platform so we can respond more quickly to business users, provide automated service delivery and enable accelerated deployment of databases. Our storage administrators have been able to improve productivity by up to 500 percent, showcasing the substantial advantages of cloud.
A Culture of Innovation
The key to gaining a competitive advantage in this digital era is to make innovation an integral part of company culture. Encouraging staff at all levels of business to generate new ideas will play an important role in the digital transformation process. CIOs must lead IT departments beyond mere implementation and start generating ideas that will move their business forward.
Large enterprises are starting to build entire teams focused solely on driving innovation, providing opportunities for application developers, data scientists and other IT professionals to work closely with senior executives on identifying new opportunities. Business leaders have already recognised that technology innovation is crucial to future success, whatever industry they’re in. To truly find a competitive edge, innovation now needs to become an ingrained part of company culture.