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The digital enterprise, prepare your company for the future

on ‎02-26-2014 12:51 AM

Digital enterprise 2.jpgEnterprises are looking at increased agility and responsiveness. They want to go after new markets, innovate with new products and services. But obviously, they want all of that without extra costs. That is where the digital enterprise comes in. Using digital technologies, IT if you want to call it differently, companies increase the relationship with their eco-systems, their customers, while improving the productivity of their employees and the consistency of their business processes. All benefits improving the image they portray in the market. Now, what thinking brings you there?


Bring IT consumerization to the business

What really started the move to the digital enterprise is the consumerization of IT. In the past, innovations were first adopted by the business and then, when technologies became cheaper, proposed to consumers. The dramatic change in IT technologies (often referred too as Moore’s law, although it should not be limited to that) has inverted this trend.

Today, technologies are first proposed to consumers and businesses are often lagging behind. Some of the best graphical engines can be found in game consoles, the most advanced PCs are game PCs, the first smart phones grew out of digital music players and I could go on like this.


Users have gotten used to intuitive interfaces, allowing them to use the devices without having to take a 5 day training course or read a 200 page user manual. Things just happen to work out of the box. Applications started as small pieces of code running on these devices, but quickly moved to become environment allowing users to tap into information and functionality available in back-end systems. And the unpredictable nature of the demand resulted in using virtualization and cloud technology. That’s how the next generation of client/server came together.


But now, users are asking why they cannot run their business activities using similar technologies, which forces the IT organization to rethink its operations and approaches to applications.

During the 90’s, IT focused on the systems of records, ensuring the enterprise would avoid the millennium bug. During

the early part of the 21st century, members in the organization started to work more closely together because cost needed to be reduced, which brought collaboration and visibility requirements. That is what got called systems of engagements. Now, in a further step to improve productivity, response time and equip employees with the necessary information to take decisions anywhere, anytime, expanding the systems of records to mobile devices is the next step.


BYOD, a side effect

Another one of those terms that had appeared in the terminology is BYOD, bring your own device. For many CIOs it seems to be an objective in its own right. It’s a must to attract the new generation. And it frightens CIOs, because it looks at being unmanageable from a security perspective. But is it really.


Frankly, I believe there are two aspects to BYOD. One is a financial one. Some companies want to reduce the cost of equipping their employees with digital devices and take the advantage of the fact employees use those to do other, non-work related activities to propose them an intervention in the cost of their personal device, in the hope that this reduces their own cost. That is a cost control approach that does not have anything to do with the digital enterprise.


Others, because they do not really know how to handle things, seem to give in and allow their users to operate from any device, hoping they manage compatibility and will not have security problems.


What users really want is cool mobile devices that allows them to access both their business and personal applications. Yes they want an environment through which they can invoke the enterprise systems of engagements, and through them the systems of records, as well as their personal e-mail, Facebook, and other applications.


If IT wants to retain control, it can stipulate what resource(s) are acceptable, but needs keep in mind the “cool factor” younger users will require. As such BYOD is not a must, it’s an easy way out, no more. The fundamental objective is to equip users with a device or a series of devices that allows them to manage both digital lives, the business and personal one.


Beyond systems of engagement, a new approach to business

As everything becomes digital, users are looking at accessing their enterprise information through new channels, but so are also customers, suppliers and partners. In an increasingly global world, where operational efficiency and lean become the motto for successful enterprises, being able to interact quickly with the company’s eco-system is critical. Digital technologies provides that opportunity. It allows more integrated operations.


For example, let’s look at the manufacturing industry. Integrating with suppliers, contract manufacturers and logistics providers allows companies to run their supply chain more smoothly with less buffer stocks. It gives them the visibility required to run an efficient S&OP (Sales and Operations Planning) process), enabling faster responses to changes in the market and new opportunities. These are just examples, but they demonstrate tangible benefits.


For more than 10 years, the financial services industry has been talking about multi-channel integration, being able to address their customers through multiple means. My bank just offered me a mobile application to perform online banking. They are the first to do that in our country. Complement this with the use of near field communication (NFC) in mobile phones and now you will be able to pay your newspaper, your public transport ticket or your groceries by waving your mobile phone in front of a reader. That opens up new possibilities. And the first company in a market who makes this available to their customers is able to attract new customers.


Ut beyond these examples, demonstrating how existing business process can be transformed using technology, new opportunities open up. When have you heard for the first time about the smart TV? Probably in 2013. Combining a traditional device with a recent means of communication, enabling the interaction using new technologies such as gesture and voice, allows an intuitive interaction between TV and the world of the internet. And here again, it’s just an example.


Exploiting the data

As consumers get more acquainted with new technologies, they start using them. And in the process they give a lot of information away. Being it through the use of Twitter, Facebook, discussion forums or others, they express themselves on all sorts of subjects. Do they speak about you, your products, your services? Probably. And here again, you can take advantage of this. Let me give you an example. Increasingly people use the internet for research on a durable good.

Actually, I do that myself. If I want to buy a new camera, I will study what specialized sites say, but also the feedback of individuals who bought the same model as the one I research. What is their feedback? How happy are they with their purchase.


Well as enterprise it makes sense to listen to what is said so you know how your product is received. And if the same problem is mentioned several times, maybe you have a warranty issue, or you may want to improve that feature in the next release. Potential customers give you information as never before. They speak up, but you better listen. By the way, your competitors probably listen too, so they know the weak points of your products. It’s worth all the market research you used to do years ago. But now you have to know what to look for and where you can find it.



The digital enterprise is all about using the new technologies available to empower your users, whether they are your employees, your partners or your customers. It’s about improving existing business processes and finding new business models. It’s about listening to the clients and the market. It’s about gaining visibility of operations and improving decision making. Fundamentally it is about using the technologies of the 21st century to run your business better, faster and leaner.

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