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The Digital Enterprise CIO
25 June 2015

From mainframe to mini-computer to desktop to personal computing, from legacy to UNIX, Beta versus VHS to CD – when companies did not see the changes coming they disappeared and there are many more examples.

Technology has all too frequently been the reason behind boom or bust and now a blog post on Enterprise CIO Forum by Sandeep Kishore boldly states “Be Digital or Be Extinct” and “The era of Digital Darwinism is upon us”.  You have been warned!

With mobility and social media all pervading, consumers are increasingly doing their shopping online and many more research their intended purchases online.  Travel bookings for instance, are made online by more than 50% of travelers.  Many simple administrative tasks such as change of contact details are being done by the consumer online instead of making a phone call to the company or filling in a form.  These if a company doesn’t have a digital presence, either a website or be on Facebook, they can be treated with suspicion and consumers will go elsewhere.  Little wonder companies are having to embrace all things digital.

One of the challenges with embracing the digital environment is making the switch from the traditional and legacy systems still inherent in many organisations, particularly larger ones where change is notoriously slower to implement.  Whereas a start-up will be implementing digital technologies from the outset.

Where change is required it must be a decision from the top down and implemented throughout the entire organisation, it is not just an IT or sales and marketing domain.  This does require a different skill set in many roles but digital does offer the ability to do away with tedious manual tasks and if sold this way, staff should be happy to embrace the change.

If digital is not implemented entirely, then the chances of a breakdown somewhere in the supply chain is inevitable.  Systems must be integrated, they must be coordinated and must be able to share data or at the very least have data in such a form it can be readily analysed and shared.

As a positive consumer experience must be the driving force, attitudes, services and processes all need to be customer centric.  The focus is on attracting customers and encouraging them to return – to keep them as a customer.

If an organisation needs to make the change to being a digital enterprise, tasks need to be well defined and prioritised, the tasks will of course depend on what type of industry it is in – service, retail, hospitality etc.  What is going to generate most value?  What is the most visible?  It may not be the easiest task first but any change project must have a structure with stated milestones and goals.

The evolution to digital may require a specific project team, whether external consultants or in-house talent they must be endorsed by the executive team and be able to work with any and all members of staff, otherwise they risk losing essential buy-in.  Given it is technology which is driving the change, it is ideally an evolution administered by IT but shared across the board.

Just remember it is your customers who are the reason to start the change and they are the main focus of the end result.  If an organisation doesn’t get this right, they may go the way of the dinosaur.