The ‘fourth industrial revolution’ is well and truly upon us – and it is completely changing the way we live and work through the use of digital technologies.
Humans now have an attention span that lasts eight seconds in a world where we expect the information we need to be immediate. Using technology, we can work anywhere and at any time.
But despite the rhetoric around the power of technology-led transformations, Australian enterprises – although quick to move to the cloud – are lagging behind organisations in other countries in the Asia-Pacific region when it comes to digitising their core processes. Survey after survey confirms this fact.
There’s no doubt that equipping more young people with the right technology skills will help secure our digital future.
But it’s a problem that will take a whole generation to solve, said Danny Elmarji, ANZ Director of Technology and Systems Engineering.
“If you look back at the 1980s and 1990s, if anyone was getting into some form of computer study, it was either a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering or a Bachelor of Computer Science of some sort.
“The main focus at that time was actually teaching people to develop. But as soon as university students or anyone came out of that field to join the workforce, the majority of software being developed was being made for off the shelf purchases and integrations,” he said.
Elmarji said there wasn’t much customisation being done, which meant that talent was snapped up by major technology companies, predominantly overseas.
“In ANZ we didn’t have much of a startup mentality. Outside of startups, most jobs were heavily geared towards infrastructure and selling of tools. IP tended to be developed elsewhere,” Elmarji said.
In more recent years, organisations across Australia and New Zealand have realised they need people who can create IP and customise technology solutions, and looked overseas to outsourcing service providers to supply them.
“Since then, we’ve seen a proliferation of ‘code club’ communities and the hackathon days and software development being embedded into the education curriculum "
“During the next wave, over the next five to ten years, things are going to be much improved,” Elmarji added.
Understanding customers is key
Organisations on digital transformation journeys need to work harder to understand their customers’ behaviours and purchasing habits, said Elmarji. Some enterprises haven’t quite mastered this yet.
“Just using an infrastructure-as-a-service offering doesn’t make you a digital disruptor. Companies have to take a holistic approach to understanding their customers' business and then applying that to your digital presence, solutions and support.”
Despite the rise of cloud computing infrastructure models that support digital transformation, 70 per cent of organisations in Australia still choose to build network, storage and compute infrastructure by themselves.
“Many customers are still in the ‘building phase’ and that takes up time, lots of time, so they tend not to have time to focus on applications,” Elmarji said.
“But there’s an opportunity right now for enterprises to stop building and start focusing on the outcome that the customer is looking for.
“If you build an app in a new way, care about the code and the data that is generated by the user of the application. Do that in a fast and iterative way. The faster you do it, the more you understand the data, apply it to the app and finesse it for stronger outcomes the more this will become your secret sauce,” he said.
“Focus on the things that are going to differentiate you. That’s where we are trying to push organisations to really transform themselves.”
Transformation is touching every industry
Every industry sector across the world is currently being transformed, said David Webster, President Asia Pacific and Japan, Dell EMC Enterprise.
“There is not an industry sector that is not being positively impacted by technologies and the ability for people to work in a different way. Business models are being shattered – no matter what industry sector you are in,” he said.
“They will be impacted by mobility, the ability to get access to data, to seamlessly bring together communications and deliver a customer experience that is fundamentally different from what it was.”
Dell EMC completed a study to determine how organisations are dealing with the challenges of digital transformation. Of the 4,000 executives surveyed, 12 per cent were focused on managing and maintaining their systems in legacy mode.
A further 41 per cent were starting to think about digital transformation; 42 per cent were starting on transformation projects, and only five per cent had transformed their business to enable it to be more competitive in this new digital world, Webster said.
“Our aim is to enable customers to move from just managing IT to digitally transforming their IT operations for future success,” he said.
“Every industry will face huge change in the coming years. Having a digital transformation strategy is a necessity and no longer a nice to have. We invest huge amounts in R&D to develop systems that will make this required digital transformation a reality for our customers."
So how do you digitally transform?
John Roese, Global Chief Technology Officer at Dell EMC echoed David’s sentiments, stressing, “My advice is for you to move quickly to become a digital disruptor or face being left behind.”
The entire Dell Technologies organisation is set up to help organisations through their IT transformation, he said.
“And that’s more than just saying you should digitally transform. It’s about the manifestation of technology and systems and services that are specifically targeted to give you the tools, capability and capacity to go through these digital transformations with us,” Roese said.
There are four fundamental transformational journeys that organisations are on, he explained.
Firstly, your organisation can choose to become the digital business that it aspires to be by creating code and using data in innovative ways.
Secondly, you could start by modernising infrastructure so you have the right tools to digitally transform your operations. Thirdly, you could start by thinking about how your future workforce interacts with the applications and digital future that you want to create, he said.
“Or you could start by building and fortifying the protection around IT systems because inevitably no matter what you do, you will be a target,” he said.
But ultimately, digital transformation success ‘boils down’ to organisations having better tools and a different skillset to create original, modern software, exploit data in a way that hasn’t been done before, and “move at a pace faster than we have ever seen before,” he said.