Cloud and digital: the next best thing for CEOs?
A digital world
We live in an increasingly digital world, with more video views on YouTube than Google searches in a day, 3 billion people connected to the Internet, 2 billion smartphones and 1.5 billion Facebook users. And growing – by 2020, 4 billion people will access the Internet through their smartphones!
We have seen many companies face these new digital challenges by hiring a CDO – Chief Digital Officer – and at first, it felt like a smart move to get someone onto the board who embodies digital. It ensures digital being at the top of the agenda.
The CDO’s objective is to find the best way to incorporate digital within the company and offer more digital services to clients. They have the great challenge of trying to manage the links between businesses, marketing and IT.
Let’s take a step back and consider what digital means to a company.
Does digital mean more IT or a new mobile app? I’m not sure this solves your client’s business issues or improves your services against the competition? Digital and cloud are a challenge for all executives, especially as for most of the time they are not aware of the new capabilities available.
What are the new digital things? One is cloud computing – currently the disruptive technology in the business world. Cloud-based IT can deliver, for example, on-demand resources, Big Data with real time analytics and Artificial Intelligence with machine learning – and deliver it today. Having these capabilities available means it is vital that we have a strong understanding of technology if we are to envisage new solutions for our clients. Cloud computing is the ‘how’ of ‘how we do digital’.
The CEO as the digital leader
To understand the ‘how to do digital’, you need to raise the level of awareness and knowledge across the board. Then, as a team, you need the top of the company to embody digital and cloud: the CEO.
You need the CEO’s sponsorship to lead digital, and the board to manage this huge transformation for the company. With a deep understanding of the new digital capabilities, the board can fully leverage the digital world opportunities to build new services (end-to-end digital services) and increase your competitive advantage. Innovation would be enabled at a marginal cost – which just might change your entire company.
Where do you start?
Imagine your company’s technology as a wheel. The central hub holds your core business and business critical IT, the spokes radiating from this hub hold your non-core IT. Often, when we want to impact or transform core elements of the company’s business we often implement the same solution: a new mobile app or a new cool website.
There must be a better way
Again, digital is not about more IT or more IT in a new way. Digital is a new business process to deliver and improve the services you can provide to your clients leveraging new technology assets. The easiest way is to start with ‘spoke’ services (non-core business functions) related to your core business like client engagement or client customisation. The transformation will be smoother and then when it works, you can replicate it or let the ‘spoke’ challenge a part of your core activity which will in turn be digitalised further.
Another good way to start is to challenge the way you see your business. I’d like to give you two examples. The first one is SNCF (the French railway services). They decided to change the company statement from “running trains” to “mobility services”. This might appear a simple matter of words. I consider it a very smart move which opens up the opportunity for new digital services like social transportation. The second example, Schneider Electric, is impressing me with their move from an electric manufacturer to something more like ”energy as a services company”. They embrace cloud capabilities to deliver new services and also to build their own competitive advantage.
For both examples, the leadership is coming from the top – the CEO – who is leading the digital vision across these companies.
When I talk to clients, I always recommend the need for executives to have a deep understanding of cloud and how your digital strategy depends on your mastering of this new world.
Are you ready for the next best thing?
Find out more how the cloud can help your business achieve greater efficiencies and growth – watch our video on The Telegraph’s Business Feature pages