What continued growth for Digital Transformation means for CIOs

What continued growth for Digital Transformation means for CIOs

Digital Transformation is the incorporation of computer-based technologies into an organisation’s solutions, processes, and strategies. Industry pundits look at how enterprises in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) are winning with Digital Transformation, business benefits and digital technologies as the growth trajectory continues.

Companies undertake Digital Transformation to better engage and serve their workforce and customers and thus improve their ability to compete.

According to research firm International Data Corporation (IDC). global spending on the Digital Transformation of business practices, products, and organisations is forecast to reach US$2.8 trillion in 2025, more than double the amount allocated in 2020. According to a recent update to the International Data Corporation (IDC) ‘Worldwide Digital Transformation Spending Guide’, Digital Transformation spending will have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.4% over the 2021 to 2025 forecast period as organisations pursue a holistic digital strategy for people, processes, technology, data, and governance.

“For the first time, IDC has forecast global Digital Transformation spending to exceed US$10 trillion over a five-year period,” said Craig Simpson, Senior Research Manager, Customer Insights and Analysis Group, IDC. “While most Digital Transformation projects remained on track in 2020 and into 2021 during the pandemic, IDC forecasts Digital Transformation technology investments to accelerate in 2022, with a renewed drive towards more long term strategic digital objectives. Beyond operational Digital Transformation investments, customer experience is garnering some of the largest Digital Transformation technology investments from consumer-oriented industries such as securities and investment services, banking and retail.”

With technology investments on the rise, what does Digital Transformation entail and why is it important for IT leaders to take note of this growth?

David Sweenor, Senior Director, Product Marketing, Alteryx, said even with the advances made with the Internet and computers, lots of companies still have many manual, repetitive, time consuming processes that are analogous to pushing a piece of paper from one department to another and still getting it signed off. “Our digital world still runs on paper. Digitisation is the natural next step of modifying and improving the efficiency and operation of all those processes through technology,” he said. “To truly transform, the process must be reimagined. If a process has been really transformed, you typically can’t recognise it anymore. Many processes have been transformed over time and technology has certainly been a key driver: for example, we used to stand on the curb and raise our arm to hail a taxi, now we use an app. The process looks and works completely different because the change is transformational. Transformation without analytics is just digitisation, analytics and automation make it transformative.”

Sweenor said the recent acceleration of Digital Transformation across industries has compressed years’ worth of changes to the ways companies do business and enabled analytically mature companies to outperform their competition. “Data is now the lifeblood of modern organisations, and Digital Transformation solutions have become so accessible that anyone can ask challenging questions and get meaningful answers from analytics automation technology,” he said. “From automating processes to utilising Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to solve pressing problems, Digital Transformation means a more digitally mature organisation. This then directly correlates with the data created and, with the right processes in place, the quality of the data available for analysis.

According to Sweenor, businesses in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) now have all the tools they need to make smarter decisions with less time and effort. These days, the trickiest part of the equation isn’t teaching people how to use technology to drive better results – the hardest part of Digital Transformation is teaching people how to ask better questions. The only way for organizations to deliver on the highly sought-after value in data is through analytics automation coupled with upskilling workforces so they can answer more sophisticated questions.

Ranjith Kaippada, Managing Director, Cloud Box Technologies, said it’s not just about change, but the rapid pace at which it is taking place that has a direct impact of how Digital Transformation is shifting the way businesses operate and varies according to industry needs.

Kaippada said many organisations were forced to experiment with new technologies, processes, and systems over the last few months. “The changes are not limited to utilisation of technologies, but it has also accelerated the way businesses are placing the right leaders to enable Digital Transformation changes, making stronger investments in talent and skill development, changes in organisational and business model transformation as well as process and domain transformation,” he said. “Emphasis is being laid on making employees more effective, strengthening security, making faster business decisions and building more effective business partnerships.”

Kaippada explained that the aim of transformation is to change the traditional way of doing things in an organisation and it works to increasing revenue generation. “It strives to integrate technology into businesses and while the basics of business operations change, it aims to deliver customer value,” he said. “Customer behaviour and interactions are captured and processed in such a way that the patterns are used to deliver or set expectations which eventually increase the customer service. The CIO’s role is to take the challenge of transformation and ensure the idea cascades within the team for smooth execution.”

Digital Transformation is the incorporation of computer-based technologies into an organisation’s solutions, processes, and strategies. Companies undertake Digital Transformation to better engage and serve their workforce and customers and thus improve their ability to compete. The feature looks at how enterprises in the Middle East are winning with Digital Transformations, business benefits and digital technologies.

Sanjit Bardhan, Vice President and Head of Emerging Markets Business Unit, HID Global, said Digital Transformation has brought with it a move to service models supported by the power of cloud computing. “This means new opportunities for security to manage access control applications, physical assets, and data across new form factors. Identity management delivered ‘As-a-service’ rather than via on-premises infrastructure, will expand the security perimeter and create new opportunities around identity and access management,” he said.

Bardhan noted that software-as-a-service (SaaS), hardware-as-a-service (HaaS) or platform-as-a-service (PaaS) are becoming more relevant and more widely used. “CIOs must consider the underlying governance that accompanies cloud-first mandates, including technology decision-making processes that incorporate engagement with audit, privacy, IT operations, and information security,” he said.

Given the momentum around the As-a-Service business model, CIOs are being urged to lookout for some of the key Digital Transformation trends.

Soham Chokshi, CEO and Co-Founder, Shipsy, said Digital Transformation trends can be very unique depending on the industry a CIO caters to. Chokshi said for instance, a CIO in the healthcare industry will drive Digital Transformation to meet evolving privacy and compliance standards of patient information. “A banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) CIO will focus on battling growing competition posed by FinTech brands, especially delivering that seamless experience of doing financial transactions,” he said. “On the other hand, CIOs in the supply chain and logistics space, even in retail, will be using Digital Transformation to optimise delivery turnaround times, customise home delivery experiences, improve inventory visibility, gain insights on understanding customer ambitions and expectations beyond urban regions and more. “From a general perspective, I think CIOs need to watch out for the following trends that including enabling seamless digital payment processes, equally critical in the B2B space and address the growing need for omnichannel customer engagement.”

While it’s undeniable that Digital Transformation delivers immense benefits, it also hugely expands the attack surface organisations have to defend.

The digital-driven business demands speed to stay competitive in the market. As IT attempts to keep up, and Digital Transformation continues to power on, security teams and developers must reinvent the way they think and work together. This should include ensuring that the whole organisation and its business stakeholders are aligned.

Claude Schuck, Regional Director, Middle East at Veeam Software, said benefits aside, there are serious barriers to Digital Transformation that many customers are facing today. “Staffing issues remain by far the top barrier to Digital Transformation initiatives. Your smart resources are tied up just keeping the lights on and apps running. To add to that, the reason most of your resources are tied up is due to the business need to keep your legacy systems active,” he said. “You have a business to run, and today these systems are driving that. It’s a hard truth — you need to continue to support your business while modernising to take advantages of the new innovations Digital Transformation can bring.”

Schuck pointed out thatthe other challenge CIOs face today is that these transformations were implemented in record time. “Accurate planning of details and outcomes may not have been done effectively due to the rapid change in market conditions. These plans need to be re-evaluated and perfected to improve efficiencies and value back to the business,” he said.

Maher Jadallah, Senior Director, Middle East and North Africa, Tenable, said organisations need a modern, comprehensive strategy to quickly and accurately identify vulnerabilities and misconfigurations in their dynamic infrastructures, that delivers clear guidance and recommendations on how to prioritise and remediate any risks.  Jadallah said they also need developer-first security solutions that are compatible with their workflows to increase independence and deliver easily consumable code fixes to ensure security is baked in and threat actors locked out.

“The first step is to truly understand the business environment. In short, the security team needs to make sure it can actively detect all assets and identify key processes across the entire attack surface wherever it resides — including any assets in the cloud, OT, and container environments.  Security teams must identify all business-critical assets, applications, and services including who within the organisation ‘owns’ them and ensure focus is placed on risks affecting these systems first,” he said.

Jadallah pointed out that by identifying the critical assets which the organisation relies upon to function, and the vulnerabilities affecting these systems, priority should be given to those vulnerabilities that are currently being exploited. “This identifies the real operational risks versus theoretical threats to know what to focus on first.

Security teams should also determine whether they are assessing enough of the network. Rogue assets that can’t be seen could put the organisation at risk from critical vulnerabilities. The old adage of ‘you can’t defend what you can’t see’ still holds true so it’s important to eliminate blind spots,” he advised. “By collaborating more effectively internally from the beginning, organisations will have greater security without compromising efficient business operations.”

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