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Defining digital transformation in the channel

Defining digital transformation in the channel

Digital is an ambitious and complex term to interpret - but what are the implications within the context of the Australian channel?

Murray Sargant (Informatica); Brad Starr (Informatica); Simon Barlow (Brennan IT); James Henderson (ARN); Dean Robertson (Mexia); Robert Simione (Meridian IT); Chris Farrow (Tech Data); Richard Mitton (AtlasPlato); David Nicol (Citrix); Ed Phillips (Dimension Data); Brent Butchard (Hewlett Packard Enterprise Software) and Jamie Warner (eNerds)

Murray Sargant (Informatica); Brad Starr (Informatica); Simon Barlow (Brennan IT); James Henderson (ARN); Dean Robertson (Mexia); Robert Simione (Meridian IT); Chris Farrow (Tech Data); Richard Mitton (AtlasPlato); David Nicol (Citrix); Ed Phillips (Dimension Data); Brent Butchard (Hewlett Packard Enterprise Software) and Jamie Warner (eNerds)

As digital initiatives move past the piloting phase and into the mainstream, new customer demands are emerging.

Today, end-users are challenged to reinvent the organisation, the process or the business they operate, in the quest to become faster, nimbler and more competitive.

Yet despite a drive to adopt new technologies and practices, one out of three businesses require channel help as digital transformation strategies stutter, with organisations underprepared and ill-equipped.

With digital transformation sitting at the top of the agenda across almost every industry sector in Australia, the disparity between intention and execution subsequently creates new opportunities for partners across a range of verticals. Yet before the channel can embrace these new routes to market, clarity remains as to the true definition of digital transformation.

“There’s a few aspects to digital transformation,” Citrix director of cloud services APJ David Nicol said. “The first aspect looks at the capability of a business to be creative and enter new businesses.

“It’s a measure of what extent their employees have the intellectual capacity but also the social capacity to be creative and create new business opportunities for an organisation, such as entering new markets that will enable the next phase of growth.”

For Nicol, another side to the digital story in business is around user productivity, specifically how organisations continue to improve the productivity levels at which the business and the employees operate at.

“If you look at the profile of organisations today, they are made up of millennials,” Nicol explained. “They just expect things to work and if they don’t, those millennials will place more importance on flexibility of work than they will on pay.

David Nicol (Citrix)
David Nicol (Citrix)

“The productivity and mobility that organisations provide employees will be an important platform from which businesses can be innovative and efficient.”

Alongside the internal benefits of digitalisation, businesses are using new technologies and ways of doing to business to engage outside the boundaries of the organisation, in a bid to drive future growth opportunities.

“This is about helping organisations engage better with parties externally,” Tech Data principal technologist Chris Farrow observed. “There is a real sense that most businesses find that they are not getting a lot of work done when most of their employees are internally focused.

“While we’ve seen in the past IT coming into that space and providing productivity solutions, it hasn’t really changed the nature of process. But now there’s some sense in which digital transformation relates to, in freeing people to not be enslaved as part of the machine, but rather to engage.

“Then there’s a further aspect of the technology helping facilitate that engagement to help unlock core assets in the business, which are people and data.”

Changing competitive landscapes and consumerism are disrupting businesses and creating an imperative to invest in digital transformation, unleashing the power of information and thereby improving the customer experience, operational efficiencies and optimising the workforce.

In 2017, and according to IDC research, global organisations will spend US$1.2 trillion on digital transformation technologies, predominantly from connectivity services, IT services, and application development and deployment.

But while the direction of travel appears clear in terms of customer appetite, challenges remain around converting high-demand into high- growth areas of profitability for partners.

“At the end of the day it’s an electronic medium and we’re trying to do things in real-time,” Informatica senior vice president of APJ Murray Sargant added. “The key area we should concentrate on more is the disruption aspect. What do you mean by disruption?

Simon Barlow (Brennan IT)
Simon Barlow (Brennan IT)

“If you look at digitally disruptive native companies, they don’t have a strategy for digital disruption, it’s just what they are doing. For legacy organisations, it’s about whether you re-engage and disrupt your business to keep up, or you allow someone else to disrupt your market and take your legacy customer base.”

But despite digital sitting high on the agenda of executives in boardrooms across Australia, confusion remains as to what a true digital strategy looks like in 2017.

“Look at digital when it’s disruptive and when it’s an enabler,” Hewlett Packard Enterprise Software country sales manager Brent Butchard said. “A lot of organisations going through digital transformation are running the same business model and the same process, and they are just automating things and creating new channels to market.

“It’s the same but they think that people are taking market share off them but perhaps the bigger question is, is the market still there? Look at Blockbuster versus Netflix.”

Consequently, Butchard believes businesses must assess if they are trying to fundamentally change or trying to eliminate wastage and create efficiencies — because there is a difference.

“But disruption can feel limited because we’re still referencing Uber and Airbnb,” Brennan IT executive general manager Simon Barlow added. “But so what, that was five years ago. What else is disrupting our marketplace today?

End-user priorities

From an end-user standpoint, Barlow acknowledged a rise in business focused conversations with customers, customers that establish an outcome and then seek solutions to deliver that outcome.

“But if I truly think about a business that has reengineered how they operate both internally and externally, I think about Qantas,” Barlow added. “How much has the airline industry moved on?

“You used to have to print out a boarding pass, queue, check-in, queue, place your bag, queue again for security. It was a pain. Now you can book online, you can turn up with your card, you go through security and sit in the lounge.


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