Digital Transformation – the Connected CEO’s Main Focus

Digital disruption is coming. Through my travels meeting with customers around the region, one thing is very clear – the current trend toward digitization is not a passing fad that will gracefully let any industry off the hook. To stay relevant, companies that want to play a major part in this fourth industrial revolution must digitally transform. To win this race to become digital, smart CEOs recognize that they themselves must evolve into the role of ‘Connected CEO’, and truly understand the value technology is poised to bring to the business.

The CEO is after growth in both revenue and profit. This can only be realized by providing a top notch customer experience and bringing products and services to the market faster than the competition. To achieve this, two things are important: speeding up the business processes, which means reducing the number of steps, and letting technology do the lion’s share of the work.

The ‘Appification’ of an Enterprise

Increasingly, requests for products and services come in the form of an app – be it to order food, request a vehicle, book travel, manage an investment portfolio, etc. Even when placing business-to-business orders, buyers expect to use consumer-grade mobile applications. Internally as well, employees now demand a level of user friendliness and convenience in their company applications, as if they were designed by Steve Jobs himself.  These apps are cloud-native and data-driven, and demand third-platform infrastructures to provision them quickly and seamlessly. The market relevance of a customer-facing enterprise is directly linked to the freshness of its apps. Miss a beat and you’re dead. Long product cycles are out. Both the organization and the technology must be geared towards rolling out apps at high velocity.

Mainframe in the Sky

Making the right technological choices is not easy, and all members of the C-suite need to get involved. It goes without saying that the CIO is the person who has the inside scoop on the technical aspects of the solutions to be used. But the CFO, the CMO, the COO and all other business leaders have come to understand that their processes can be greatly enhanced by applying emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. These new technologies have all found their way to the cloud, and any sound organization realizes we now live in a multi-cloud world where services are provided, by workload, from either in-house cloud, ‘ As a service ‘ offerings, mission – critical cloud, or Public Cloud, based on the need for agility, performance, cyber security and cost.

Meanwhile, some of the early adopters of hyper-scale clouds have discovered that it is just as easy to get locked in the cloud as it was in the days of proprietary mainframes. Moving workloads from one place to another becomes a painful, if not impossible, exercise. And where cloud computing came with the promise of optimizing cost, investments are now spiraling as new data services are added. Most companies are finding out the hard way that negotiating a cloud contract is not as simple as a straight forward transaction, in fact many organizations expect enterprise support yet what they got was a common service…at a premium price.

Architect for Choice

Here’s why organisations are now implementing cloud-like concepts in their internal departments, keeping their data close to home and knowing they have a great partner in IT departments that can adapt quickly to changes to deliver both the necessary apps and infrastructure. The nature of our economy is such that companies must be able to anticipate or react swiftly to new conditions that arise. That’s why organizations need to design for change, both in their business processes and in their technology. Change is inevitable, so they need to architect for choice, avoiding mousetrap solutions.

Technology has never played a bigger part in the success of an organization, and has become a top priority for any business leader. Today’s reality is we live in an apps driven, data driven multi-cloud world and by choosing the right partners to work with the CEO can discover the art of the possible.  CEO’s need partners who speak the CEO’s language, understand their industry, their company and the company’s goals, and can help to efficiently navigate the upcoming digital transformation journey.

About the Author: Adrian McDonald

Adrian McDonald is the EMEA President of Dell EMC. Adrian is responsible for the company’s overall revenue generation, management and business strategy in the region. As part of Dell Technologies, Adrian helps businesses understand and implement their own digital transformation, critically from a commercial as well as a technology perspective. In his role, Adrian has daily interactions with senior business leaders across EMEA and sees digital transformation as a top priority in helping companies win in the digital age. Adrian’s unique insight has led him to identify an evolution happening within the role of the CEO. This focuses on the CEO’s understanding and awareness of technology’s influence to ensure their business stays relevant and competitive in the fourth industrial revolution. This new type of CEO Adrian calls the ‘Connected CEO’ who strives for profit and revenue growth but now with technology and digital channels at the heart of this growth. Based at DELL EMC’s headquarters in London, Adrian has held the role of EMEA president since 2012. Whilst leading the business, Adrian has brought a relentless focus on innovation, notably with the introduction of a successful services and solutions-led agenda which continues to underpin the company’s drive for market-share capture. Since joining EMC in 1988, Adrian has held a variety of US-based, international and global positions at EMC including Senior Vice-President & General Manager for EMC’s business in the UK and then overseeing EMC’s EMEA-North region before becoming EMEA president in 2012. Adrian holds a BA Honours degree in History and Politics from Warwick University and is an alumni of Columbia Business School. He continues to be strong long-term supporter of the Princes Trust, sits on the EMEA Women in Action board and chairs the global MOSAIC board which advocates and promotes equality for minorities and cultural diversity.