Digital Transformation – understanding and unlocking the true value
ASK any CEO of a large enterprise whether their organization has transformed digitally, and they will likely reply that yes, of course, their business is digital.
To a certain extent, every aspect of the enterprise is indeed digital today: emails, unified messaging, voice over IP, video conferencing, bank transfers and accounting; even the checking in and out of goods at distribution centers is done digitally.
But the true meaning of digital transformation is the change that enterprise needs to be continually undertaking in order to integrate and master the rapid effects of technology, before its competitors. Wringing out the advantage over others in the same markets is something that can be done, but it requires vision, knowledge, and foresight.
Thankfully, there are companies out there to help the technically-astute enterprise prepare for, and even embrace the digital future (some of those companies are listed below). Here are some of the challenges and opportunities which are facing enterprises. By responding to these now, real competitive advantage can be gained:
Automated machines will increasingly do the work of humans. Additionally, humans may use robotic extensions to their own capabilities in order to extend their abilities.
- The Internet of Things
Moore’s law states that overall processing power for computers will double every two years. Either we can deploy more powerful technology at the same price points, or, as in the case of the internet of things, we deploy low-cost (yet powerful) devices in their multitudes: everything becomes connected, in time.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Often wrongly misused as a term when machine learning would be more accurate, AI offers us opportunities to let machines learn by making mistakes, altering their own data and algorithms to produce ever more accurate and useful processes for us to utilize.
- Digital currencies
Electronic transfers of fiat currencies are rising sharply, with the traditional, physical wallet soon to be a thing of history. Additionally, blockchain technologies will soon remove the need for private ledgers, meaning new challenges facing banks, financial institutions, governments and enterprise alike.
- Mobile computing
While we continue to use the etymological anomaly of “phone” or “smartphone”, we are essentially carrying with us powerful computers capable of extraordinary feats anywhere in the world. Portable computing power will increase, as will connectivity levels.
- New business models
Changes in businesses caused by technology continue to be called “disruptive” in some instances. Subscription models for anything-as-a-service (XaaS) dominate business, as does data monetization – just a few examples.
The unifying feature of all the above and of the elements of every enterprise now embarking on its own digital journey, is data. The vast majority of data is held privately, behind firewalls – up to 96 percent of the worlds electronic data is thought to be thus sequestered, an amount measured in zettabytes.
Public repositories of data, such as the web (a not inconsiderable eight billion web pages and documents) make up only around four percent of total data.
With data held privately, the challenge is how best to use it: and this is the key to digital transformation:
- Collect and unify – a practical step: how to unite unstructured database entries with CAD files, with video files & their soundtracks, PDFs, image files, petabytes of data from IoT. Data is present but disparate
- Catalog and keep – the technical challenge: manage data’s lifecycle, ensure its survival, but allow its practical use.
- Utilize – the business processes: use data to create insights, build applications, and, as Steve Jobs once said, “make a dent in the universe.”
The nature of technology means that digital transformation is not a sprint, nor a marathon. It is rather an ongoing process to gain foresight, accept, assimilate and utilize technology’s breakthroughs as they happen. Only by managing the information available to the enterprise can any organization begin its digital transformation processes.
Here are four companies which will help the enterprise manage its information and continue to transform digitally.
OpenText enables the digital world, creating a better way for organizations to work with information, on premise or in the cloud. It is the market leading provider of enterprise software for digital transformation with 80% of the world’s Fortune 500 companies using OpenText Enterprise Information Management (EIM) solutions to grow faster, lower operational costs, and reduce information governance and security risks by improving business insight, impact and process speed.
The OpenText EIM portfolio has been designed to fully automate the flow of enterprise information, from engagement to insight. Across all industries, organizations are using these solutions to solve their most complex business problems—from engagement, capture, content, and process to collaboration, discover, exchange, and insight.
EIM pulls together the various strands of data and information which flow through the modern enterprise into one unifying term, and therefore, is able to offer a range of information management services which covers all the bases:
- Enterprise content management
- Business process management
- Customer experience management
- Business network
OpenText’s software suites allow the unification of information across the whole enterprise. OpenText’s information applications can be tailored to empower the enterprise: for instance, various data collation suite combinations might be paired with components from development suites which, together, form flexible platforms & applications to address business-specific needs.
Additionally, the company offers business trading platforms and networks, AI capabilities (under the moniker Magellan) which are truly business-focused, plus data lake management, big data collation & analysis, and a whole raft of IoT-oriented solutions.
To read more about OpenText’s solutions, click here.
Oracle has moved on significantly since its early, database days. Now a global giant, the company offers a full gamut of enterprise-level services.
In the area of enterprise information management, its overarching framework is described in its “Information Management Reference Architecture”, a weighty document which describes the processes and methods by which its solutions can best be utilized in the modern enterprise.
While the document and Oracle’s approach is very much business-oriented, it lays out the practical makeup of its provisions, prefaced by the following definition of information management:
“Information Management (IM) is the means by which an organisation seeks to maximise the efficiency with which it plans, collects, organises, uses, controls, stores, disseminates, and disposes of its information, and through which it ensures that the value of that information is identified and exploited to the maximum extent possible.”
With its extensive product and service range, coupled with its database roots, the US giant will be able to address most situations requiring the real-time or historical management & processing of data, and the utilization of the resulting materials to aid the modern enterprise.
One of the aspects of efficient data management is the ability to use the resulting collated materials to be able to deploy custom-made applications. By providing frameworks into which data can be input, a real business value can be created.
OpenText and Zoho both offer such application creation frameworks, and both adopt effectively the same structure.
By ensuring that APIs are in place and are robust, and that data has been gathered and appropriately prepared, Zoho’s Creator development framework can utilize a series of pre-packaged components to create apps.
By abstracting programming languages to a higher level, applications can be created by methods such as near-English programming vernaculars and drag-and-drop function building.
With Zoho Creator, applications can be created in a fraction of the time which lower level programming languages might dictate, and after less training and specialist knowledge, too. Creator allows the deployment of finished apps to any device, including mobile.
This has the effect for the organization of applications created by end-users in order to serve specific business requirements, quickly and easily.
By using the huge data reserves held by the enterprise, a real business value can be leveraged according to demand, rather than having to wait for the wheels of internal development processes to turn at their typically slow rate.
SAP, as the de facto choice for enterprise management systems, is further extended by a raft of products which enable granular and effective management of data from right across an organization.
Modules include, but are not limited to:
- SAP Master Data Governance
Helps to ensure data quality and consistency across the enterprise, supporting collaboration and the creation of business rules.
- SAP Data Services
Transformation of data from a variety of sources so it can be used effectively inside an SAP deployment.
- SAP Information Steward
Data cleansing and analysis, either of existing repositories or in real or near-real time.
- Agile data preparation
Allows data to be prepared for a purpose on a self-service basis.
- Data replication and distribution
This module provides real-time data updates for data management, movement, integration, and synchronization.
- Data modeling and visualization
Data modeling tools automatically capture architectural layers and requirements to build a blueprint of enterprise architectures.
Finally, SAP Extended Enterprise Content Management is an application supplied by OpenText, see above, which significantly enables its users to process, gather and search for data, right across a range of sources.