How the tech industry can win in the IT transformation wave
by Sumash Singh
Director – Data Centre Solutions, South Asia & Korea, Dell EMC
No industry understands disruption like the tech industry, as new technologies rapidly displace established companies, turn new brands into household names, changing the way we live and work several times over. Today, even established technology companies need to constantly reinvent themselves to stay ahead. Dell too has transformed itself several times over the decades, from customisable PCs to today’s offering also providing essential technology infrastructure for the enterprise.
The impact of disruption on maintaining competitive advantage in the tech industry is huge. In a Digital Transformation Index study commissioned by Dell Technologies, more respondents from technology firms were likely to agree that their industry had seen new competitors (73%) of late compared to the global average (62%). Where do tech companies stand in the digital transformation wave today, and how can they make sure they use it to continue to gain competitive advantage?
Ahead of the wave
According to the Digital Transformation Index, tech companies are amongst those best positioned to play at the forefront of the digital revolution. They typically have skillsets and strategic partnerships that are already relevant to digital transformation, and are investing in those more aggressively.
For example, many companies today are overwhelmed by a deluge of data and are struggling with turning it into meaningful information. The tech sector however is already working with modern software to deliver digital applications that address this challenge.
They know that applications have to be built quickly, over days or weeks, and updated in a continuous manner. Agility is the order of the day when dealing with mountains of data and making sense of it, and this is an approach many technology companies are already implementing.
Software is also crucial as it creates new digital services that can generate new revenue for brands. Every company is now a software company, or aims to be one. According to the Digital Transformation Index study, almost three in four companies (72%) in APJ are now expanding their software development capabilities, which is in turn changing the playing field for tech companies.
Competition in this region is fierce, with 80% of respondents in India for example expanding software capabilities.
Securing a digitally transformed future
Although tech companies have had a head start on the digital transformation journey, there is room to push the boundaries further. To gain competitive advantage from disruptors in their industry, they need to focus on four key areas:
- Enhance customer experiences
Look at new ways to drive customer engagement and experience. Tech companies should use the skillsets available to them to analyse data on customers’ needs and behaviour. Analytics tools can extract meaningful insights that will help raise the bar on customer service and go beyond tweaks to existing systems or processes.
For instance, the largest semiconductor manufacturer, Intel, has been a major proponent of the IoT and is providing scalable, interoperable solutions for a range of businesses to help them accelerate deployment of intelligent devices and end-to- end analytics.
By making it easier for customers to launch IoT solutions, Intel has cemented its position as a trusted partner in its customers’ digital transformation journey.
- Choose technology that supports business agility
Buying pre-engineered stacks designed for specific business outcomes, instead of integrating them from scratch, significantly shortens the implementation process. Cloud-based file-sharing and collaboration tool box supports enterprises such as Schneider Electric with off-the-shelf solutions for their mobile and global workforce, without any compromise on security standards.
This approach offered Schneider Electric 30% cost savings and addressed its need for external collaboration and mobile access. The other industry verticals studied were the automotive, financial services, healthcare (public and private), insurance, life sciences, manufacturing, media and entertainment, oil and gas (upstream and downstream), retail and consumer products, telecoms, and a separate category called ‘other commercial sectors’.
- Modernise IT
Dynatech, a system integrator in Japan focused on the hospitality industry, is one example of successfully modernising infrastructure to better enable speed and scale. It updated its infrastructure with a goal to improve business continuity and availability, and as a result it has increased sales by 20% from improved customer experience with the faster and more reliable system.
The Malaysia Genome Institute (MGI), a government institute that supports national genomic projects and collaborates with research organisations and universities throughout Malaysia, faced phenomenal business challenges in storing, transmitting and analysing the massive amount of data generated in its next-generation sequencing (NGS) analysis.
By updating its IT and deploying a single, scalable solution, MGI gained close to 30% in processing speed, providing results more quickly to its partners involved in subsequent processes.
Legacy infrastructure and applications are simply not built for the speed or scale required for today’s digital businesses. IT infrastructure must successfully deliver on the agility and elasticity of public clouds as well as the predictability and service levels of on-premise systems.
- Adopt a culture of learning
Culture plays a big role in the digital transformation of an organisation, especially when it comes to the mindset of employees guides how much it is embraced and capitalised on.
Focus on developing a culture of learning, experimentation and iteration with customers. Enabling a culture of ‘failing fast’ is key. Allow the organisation to make mistakes, and learn from them quickly to improve offerings.
Asia leapfrogs into the digital age
Whilst agility is a common concept to tech companies globally, those in APJ are typically more agile, making them much better placed to digitally transform. Many companies in APJ were established relatively recently, so they have less legacy infrastructure holding them back. They are often more willing to embrace new technologies as well.
Just Dial, India’s local search engine firm, is a case in point. Without legacy infrastructure holding it back, it increased agility by adopting high performance all-flash drives from the beginning, enabling it to deliver immediate online response times, a critical element to its success. The impact on the business was clear as it received bids nearly 12 times the shares on sale for its IPO.
Tech companies are most likely to experience disruption in their industries, yet in many ways are best positioned to secure their future in this environment. Using these areas of focus such as modernising IT and adopting a culture of learning, tech companies can stay a step ahead and remain competitive.
Disruptive technologies will be the key to providing that differentiation. If they choose their technology partners carefully, settling on ones that can demonstrate that they truly understand digital transformation, tech companies will be more than ready to ride the new IT innovation wave.