Hello and a very warm welcome to our latest edition of smartCIO EMEA – the magazine for Chief Information Officers and other IT leaders across the region.
A finance leader’s perspective
on digital transformation
Head of Financial Control,
How CIOs might frame the new age of uncertainty
Workday global study:
CIOs hold the key to
Innovate UK: A public sector perspective on digital transformation
Workday Elevate Madrid: Leaders discuss focus areas for business competitiveness
Accenture: What does cloud innovation worthy of a spy movie look like?
A new language for
Hello and a very warm welcome to our latest edition of smartCIO EMEA – the magazine for Chief Information Officers and other IT leaders across the region.
Regular readers will know that our mission is to share the latest technology and leadership insights to help create and educate a community of current CIOs, and those aspiring to move into the role.
In this issue, we’re putting the spotlight on the continued move towards the digital transformation of core business systems, the motivators for this, and of course the critical role CIOs play in supporting their organisations through this business-critical process.
And yes, digital transformation of these systems IS a business imperative. The pandemic demonstrated to many companies that the old ERP systems they had in place were not fit-for-purpose, and were not adaptable or flexible enough to cope with the shifting demands of business.
As we enter a world full of new uncertainties and shifting dynamics, these legacy tools will not set organisations up for success. For we emerge from a global pandemic into a business world beset by challenges as economies tackle conflict in Europe, inflation, supply chain issues and a myriad other issues. No industry is fully immune from these problems, and so every company should be preparing for uncertainty.
Obviously the CIO in EMEA cannot solve these macro-level problems, but as Martin Veitch looks at in his article ‘How CIOs might frame the new age of uncertainty’, it’s time for CIOs to listen to the needs of the business and respond accordingly. Tumultuous times call for difficult, and sometimes bold, decisions. Martin talks about CIO’s taking a ‘boxer’s stance’ to defend against risk while landing targeted punches on opportunity.
Digital transformation remains high on the agenda, not only because the pandemic demonstrated the need to modernise core business systems, but because these modern, true-cloud systems help business functions to respond and deal with the ever-changing modern business world. We hope the articles in this issue continue to inspire and show how this transformation and investment is critical for today’s business climate.
As always, our aim for smartCIO EMEA is that it provides you with insight, opinion and discussion around the key leadership, business and technology topics that are relevant to you and your role in modern business.
We look forward to you joining the conversation. Please give us feedback, suggest new ideas, offer your own expertise and insight. We can’t wait to hear from you.
*How CIOs might frame the new age of uncertainty*
By Martin Veitch, Editorial Director, IDG Connect
This is the year of living differently for CIOs – and for many of the rest of us too. In the 1970s, John Kenneth Galbraith’s bestselling book of the same name proposed that we lived then in The Age of Uncertainty: a time when we had lost the uniformity of thought that characterised the economic consensus of the nineteenth century.
Today, it’s not over-egging things to argue that we live in a new age of uncertainty and have reached a stage where there have rarely, if ever, been so many imponderables. We’re dealing with phenomena ranging from stagflation, a lingering pandemic, geopolitical turmoil, war in Europe, a fuel crisis and Brexit, to the biggest changes to working patterns in a generation.
“A change is gonna come”, sang Sam Cooke, and he was right but not, sadly, in the way he had hoped, and the news cycle continues to swing alarmingly to the negative.
What has the role of information leader got to do with this? Well, plenty.
Even if we can hardly expect the CIO to deliver peace in our time nor figure out the politics and ramifications of departures from economic blocs, the job of the modern IT leader is surely to anticipate, hedge and plan for all possible outcomes. It’s not so much about A/B testing as something encompassing the whole gamut of the alphabet recited amid a fiendish and disturbing symphony of ‘what if’ scenarios.
Taking a stance
It seems to me that the best CIOs adopt a boxer’s stance to address risks and opportunities: they have one fist extended with which to lead and another clutched close to their chests to defend. And it’s important that they retain this balance because even the most dismal backdrops see winners – the ones who benefit from a bear market have seen it coming and acted accordingly.
Today, every right-minded CIO will be examining how to make best use of their resources and many will be considering what can be done without. But only the most defensive of leaders will be pulling up the drawbridge and locking down (in the pre-COVID-19 business sense).
I think here of Paul Martin when he was CIO at packaging giant Rexam and his insistence that, even in tough times, he retained his budget for research and analysis because it enabled him to be forward-looking.
With this in mind, let’s look at some of the matters likely to need to be addressed and some potential solutions.
Extremely high levels of inflation
This will doubtless be testing, not only cramping consumer spending but, for CIOs, leading to rising prices for IT products and services and staff wage growth. There will also be a mandate to enable spending reductions across the organisation through IT automation. Adding to the challenge, this will be the first time that many CIOs have encountered significant inflation so they will be venturing into the unknown.
CIOs should negotiate with suppliers for optimal pricing. Some IT buyers are already attempting to plug gaps in their infrastructure by purchasing at a premium in order to guarantee fast delivery, for example in procuring laptops. Those who can wait for goods may be able to benefit and many suppliers are happy to create flexible tariffs.
Cloud/SaaS is another obvious way to get to minimal upfront spending and to swerve price spikes that occur, for example from annual maintenance charges on core software such as database and ERP products.
IT chiefs should also pick the brains of older cohorts and take comfort in the wisdom of one CIO who advises to “never waste a downturn” because this is a time to get houses in order and think creatively.
Rethinking how we work and the workplace
The pandemic has given us one initiative that may ultimately be deemed positive: a radical re-engineering of what we mean by ‘work’.
Even after decades of IT, mobile computing, the internet and wireless networks, before COVID-19 we were still locked implacably into a culture of presenteeism. We were largely expected to work standard office hours and, where possible, to show up in workplaces.
Stay-at-home orders have effectively smashed that model definitively and organisations face a ticklish challenge in balancing the desire of many staff to work remotely and the need to create a working culture of shared beliefs and creativity.
Here the CIO needs to take a leaf from Apple’s culture and “think different” by considering ways in which the new world of work may play out. Many are already implementing more hotdesking, collaboration areas and meeting rooms as standard-issue pods and cubicles are a bad fit for the innovation and creativity that have never been so badly needed. But they will need to go further and reconsider how they serve home and remote workers: leaders will pay close attention to ergonomic furniture, wellbeing status, feedback loops on IT remote services, hardware equipment, security and bandwidth.
The fuel crisis and mandate for sustainability has a direct line to the CIO’s list of responsibilities. Data centres account for about two percent of global greenhouse emissions and are forecast to account for 10 percent of global electricity for 2030.
Of course, we need to put this in perspective: the digitisation of business and society will massively reduce usage of major physical phenomena such as transport and manufacturing. But we can and must do more.
CIOs need to investigate modernising data centres to reduce emissions and heat through use of free-air cooling and modern servers, storage and networking gear. But few will want to take on this burden themselves. The obvious alternative is to reduce or remove the use of in-house data centres in favour of co-location and/or cloud where there are huge economies of scale and where infrastructure and facilities management tend to be state of the art. By taking a lead in sustainability, CIOs will also help to promote the green credentials of their organisations at a time when these are under intense scrutiny on behalf of employees, watchdogs and non-execs.
Ultimately, realistic CIOs know that another key strategy this year will be to listen. The changes being undergone are vast, wide-reaching and, by necessity, impossible to predict precisely. But listening CIOs also need to be taking proactive steps. In the new age of uncertainty, they have much to lose but also much to gain.
A finance leader’s perspective on digital transformation*
By Steve Dunne, EMEA Staff Writer
The partnership between IT and the CFO function is critical to supporting real financial transformation. At Workday Elevate London, Nigel Bryan, Head of Financial Control at NFU Mutual, spoke with Carolyn Horne, President, EMEA, Workday. He gave a finance leader’s perspective on digital transformation and offered advice to businesses on a similar path to change.
Could you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about NFU Mutual and what the business does?
I’m Nigel Bryan, Head of Financial Control at NFU Mutual. A lot of people may know of NFU Mutual. We are the National Farmers Union Mutual, an insurance company that’s very much linked to the farming and the rural community and we’ve been in existence for over 100 years. I’m currently leading our transformation and modernisation programme within finance. That’s where Workday comes in – because that’s the system part of the programme. It’s very exciting for me – we go live with our first phase (procurement) at the end of June.
You mentioned NFU is over 100 years old, an organisation with a tremendous heritage. Yet transformation and digitisation are really big areas of focus for you. At what point did that light-bulb moment happen, where you realised you needed to transform your finance function?
I guess it was probably the change of finance leadership in many ways. I came into my role at the same time as my boss. As an organisation, we’d made a lot of investments into customer-facing IT systems. We came in and had a look and said, “well, it’s time for finance now.” We did a piece of work looking at our system landscape and strategically what the finance function needed to look like over the next five to 10 years. This highlighted a number of things, including system risks. As many people will recognise, we had a lot of manual processes with human dependencies, out-of-support systems, end-of-life systems, heavy dependency on EUCs and spreadsheets, very manual control environments – things that aren’t sustainable with the ever-increasing demands being made on the finance function.
All of which were barriers to that broader strategic vision of finance you were looking to build?
Yes. Ultimately it’s about delivering that strategic vision element in terms of ‘what does finance need to be delivering to the business?’ Tim Wakeford [in an earlier Workday Elevate London session] was talking about finance being business partners as well as value partners. We spend so much time doing the transactional and not enough time supporting the business. So, for us, it wasn’t so much a light-bulb moment, it was a ‘duh’ moment. We just needed to get it done. We then built a business case around many of those points, got the support and off we went.
I know you led the procurement process during the pandemic, so can you tell us about the evaluation stage and some of the key differentiators that really stood out to you?
Yes, we did the RFP online during the pandemic – and I’m pretty sure my kids joined in the process, as many did! It was quite tough doing an RFP remotely like that. But we got through and we selected Workday. I guess two things I was going to mention about what differentiated Workday from other offerings. First of all, obviously, Workday is a true cloud-based offering. And when we looked at some of the other offerings, that really appealed to my IT colleagues from an architecture perspective, the excitement that this brings to the business with the future releases and the evolving picture going forward.
Secondly it was the integrated nature of the product that appealed. One of the challenges we had was that our procurement colleagues were very keen to look at best-of-breed procurement solutions.
There was a bit of tension there in terms of what they would aspire to have versus what we got from some of the ERP-type offerings. But we worked through that and I think it was a key part of the debate. I have to say, ultimately, the benefits you get from an integrated solution like Workday with all the components working together and the additional components you can include from both the data and an HR perspective, was what won the day for us, along with it being a true cloud offering. That was what swayed it and took us down the Workday route.
I know you’ve deployed Workday technologies to support analytics, planning and how you think about accounting. How do you envisage that those will help you collaborate across the business and make better decisions?
We’ve selected Workday Financial Management, Workday Prism Analytics and Workday Accounting Centre. We also selected Workday Adaptive Planning, although we’ll fully implement that in a slightly later phase. But I think one of the things that we were keen to do was to make sure that the programme was really and truly transformational. And by taking Workday Prism Analytics and Workday Accounting Centre, that’s forced us to really think about integration points. You all have your own integration points that you need to think about – but we were keen to make sure we didn’t just lift and shift our current world and just plug it into a new general ledger system.
That would be great and that would de-risk us to a degree, but that’s not transformation in my mind. We’ve gone back to our source systems, pulled new datasets through at a much more granular level and will be building a new data store for us in Workday Financial Management and in Workday Adaptive Planning too. We’ve uncovered some horrors on the way, as I’m sure a lot of organisations have, where you’ve got accounting logic and all sorts of things buried in IT code, in our case, from the 1970s and beyond. We’re looking to address all these.
What’s really exciting for me is what this means going forward, not just from the operational efficiency perspective e.g. more streamlined processes and a single source of truth, but also what we can then do with the more granular data. That will be transformational as well.
Finally, we don’t know what the future holds but when you think about innovation and moving forward, what comes to mind and how do you see technology supporting you through that?
For us in finance at NFU Mutual, implementing the components of Workday that we’ve spoken about are big game-changers. It would be taking those and exploiting them, if that’s the right term, to the maximum. And I think that’s both exciting and scary at the same time. So obviously, going live shortly on Workday, we’ll be taking our first step on the ladder, as it were. It’s a big step and it’s only the first one, as future releases come along with more functionality.
This is a journey. It’s a cliché but it’s true. We’re going to be in a continuous development cycle and that’s the challenge for us. We are setting up a finance technology and change team because it needs to be something that we need to embed as the ‘way we do things in finance’. This is a change from how we thought and behaved before. We now need to focus on delivering continuous improvement and change within the function. That will be our priority focus and keep us busy for a while.
A public sector perspective on digital transformation*
By Steve Dunne, EMEA Staff Writer
Innovate UK is the UK's innovation agency. They drive productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas. At Workday Elevate London, Doug Ward, Deputy Director of Business Systems and Insight at Innovate UK, spoke with Carolyn Horne, President EMEA at Workday. He gave his perspective on digital transformation and offered advice to those on a similar path to change.
Could you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about Innovate UK and what it does?
I’m Doug Ward, Deputy Director of Business Systems and Insight at Innovate UK. At the heart of our strategy the main pillars are to involve, inspire and invest in the innovation ecosystem around the UK. As the UK’s innovation agency, it’s our role not just to help change the country, but support innovation across the rest of the government. That position enables us to really drive digital transformation. My team’s vision is to make sure that we build awesome products and services for everyone.
What challenges does a UK government body face, and what are the issue driving change within the public sector?
Making sure you spend public money effectively means there’s a lot of checks and balances. We make sure that, hand on heart, we’re adding value on every single process we do, as every decision that we make must stand up to public scrutiny. This requires taking time to allow for decision making at the correct level. We’ve got amazing leaders that guide us through change, enabling our delivery of quality outcomes faster.
We have built expertise in-house, through creating inspiring roles that directly contribute to our vision. So rather than having to do extra steps like contracting third parties or writing statements of work, we’re able to talk directly to the developers and get them to achieve transformational change at the pace we want to go at.
What was the main catalyst for change within the finance and HR functions?
We had lots of disparate, legacy, on-prem systems. Audit findings highlighted gaps in some of our processes. For example, using hundreds of Excel sheets to track information, and even some grants were still paper-based. We followed governments technology principles such as cloud-first and focusing on our users which demonstrated the case for change. This culminated in the opportunity to bring those two functions together whilst implementing some world-leading technology.
Why did you choose Workday?
Because of the size of the organisation and how we were set up as a lean tech company, right at the start of the journey we chose Workday by comparing what the capabilities of different tools were. We had a new mandate from central government around using the same HCM and ERP system, so it really shortlisted a smaller set of tools. And then compared with all the user requirements we had and the speed that we were able to implement it, it was the leader on our vendor scorecard.
What payroll solution did you have previously, and how and why did the payroll implementation increase collaboration between finance and HR?
When it came to payroll, we had two separate systems. Having already got Workday as our HCM and finance solution, it made a lot of sense to bring payroll into the middle. It really helped bridge the gap between two functions that, let’s say, had challenges in their ways of working. Finally bringing together budget tracking and everything into one tool meant that we could get a full view of what was going on in the organisation.
How are things better now and what sort of impact has Workday had on your business?
Collaboration has improved across the organisation. Because HR, finance, and project teams are all on the same tool, we’re able to keep a record of what we’ve been up to. We can see clear goals rolled out at the organisational level and then everybody can see how their piece fits into that overarching picture. They’re also linked down to different directorates, and they’ll have their own specific targets that we can track and manage through Workday.
Also things like the Workday Assistant for being able to book holiday and leave is so much simpler than having to book invites on calendars or meet managers or go through paper-based processes. It sounds like a small thing but that affects every single person in the organisation. Quite often, with HR and finance transformations, they only touch a small population of those teams.
Similarly, the performance and appraisal system is great, everyone gets to track how they are performing against their goals and update them through the year. We have much more regular touchpoints with the system than we ever did before, and it’s really helpful that that’s all in one place, and employees can just go to that one-stop shop and find what they want to do, and everyone’s really enjoying that.
And what about when it comes to data?
We are a really data-rich organisation. We come from a background of engineers and academics who are constantly after more information. Every single pound we spend, we need to demonstrate the impact to the UK economy. That kind of top-down pressure, as well as people asking for information, has really led to data being used in every team for almost every decision.
Workday has given us a single source of truth for our finance records and HR systems. We now use that to create executive management team dashboards, where we can really see the current size and shape of the organisation. Historically, there’s always been a challenge around trusting information and whether it’s accurate, especially as there are challenges such as who entered that data in the first place, how it gets into the system, and how it’s tracked. The ability for cost centre managers to see what their up-to-date spend is or to get visibility with easy reporting is definitely closing that gap and helping to increase trust in our data.
And how did the solution benefit payroll regulations?
We were able to clearly report on what we’d done. Everyone has instant access to their payslips, so issues or errors that were detected are quickly highlighted to the central team to fix. This new process significantly reduced the amount of errors. We were also able to do final payments later in the month, enabling much more flexibility with the system. Things like stop letters or new tax code notifications were applied later in the month than they had ever been before, which made us much more compliant with some of the regulations.
How did you go about instilling change within the organisations? Did you come up against any doubters?
We have a digital delivery and change team that work alongside the IT, finance and HR teams. We built a multidisciplinary delivery teams to think more broadly about what we needed and this helps to bring the business along with us.
Another way that we manage change at Innovate is probably a little bit different to some others. We’re not afraid of rolling out new features to teams to get them to experiment with them. That enables everyone to feel like they’ve been part of the design and the delivery, which has really helped to accelerate adoption. Sandboxes are a great way to do that!
You’re also deploying Workday Adaptive Planning, what benefits will that bring to Innovate UK?
As a government agency, we regularly need to do in-year cash management, budget planning, and continually do four-plus-eight updates to our forecasts to see where we are spending. We manage a huge amount of money with our grants. This means we need to be aware of the forecasts, alongside how much money we think people are going to claim each month. We need to make sure that we’ve got enough cash in the bank to pay that kind of amount. With financial planning, we’ll be able to look at these different models, take inputs from different places, and arrive at a much more accurate view for both those accruals, but also make sure we’ve got enough money to pay everybody.
What advice would you give to other public sector organisations about to embark on a similar transformation journey?
Let people play with the product, experiment with it and get their hands on how it works. It really helped to drive adoption. I think certain teams who were a little bit scared of tech or scared of change were initially resistant. And then when we started to get those features into their hands and they could see the power of the tool, they really opened up. Getting people excited about the technology, articulating a clear vision for the future and being really engaged is the best way to help people really embrace change.
*Workday Elevate Madrid:
Leaders discuss focus areas for business competitiveness*
Partner, McKinsey Digital
By Steve Dunne, EMEA Staff Writer
Business leaders in finance, HR, technology and more recently joined us in Madrid for our Workday Elevate event. In this article, we capture highlights from an interview between Fermin Peleteiro, Senior Vice President, Global Field Operations at Workday, and Alberto Torres, Partner at McKinsey Digital. They explored how businesses are embracing agility and handling the new hybrid world of work.
Let’s start with the importance of adaptability, as I know that agility is one of the core areas Workday has focused on. How do you see that, Fermin?
I think having great agility and being able to react and adapt with low response times, has always been and always will be a priority. During the COVID-19 pandemic, especially the first three months, we had to react and help our customers react. It was inspiring to see how our customers rose to the challenges. And now, even though we hope the worst of COVID-19 is behind us, there are still challenges like supply chain disruptions, stressed labour markets or macroeconomic policies impacting business. Then there are new competitors trying to do what you do but better and faster – that means we have to find the capacity to adapt.
And what are the main attributes of agility across the organisations that are performing well?
Based on the conversations I’ve had with Workday customers and other organisations, I see a number of key areas that are helping to improve agility. One is optimising the cycle of analysis, planning and execution. This gives business users the ability to make decisions in a more agile way. In order to make an optimal decision you need a holistic view. This means being able to combine operational business data, financial data, and, in many cases, people data, because it normally accounts for 70 percent of an organisation’s costs.
The other thing, logically, is to continue automating where possible. Maybe what’s changed the most in the last few years is there are more and more automation use cases that are very well tested: detecting duplications in invoices, accounting entries that are incorrect, and detecting payments to incorrect suppliers. These are standard use cases which can be applied quickly and which free up a lot of time for finance teams. Applying agility to everything that involves modification and flexibility of processes is key.
Do you have some examples of organisations that are demonstrating agility?
I think the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic brought this into focus. Of course, there was terrible suffering and such human tragedy, but seeing how our customers found ways to succeed was inspiring. Workday always aims to help our customers innovate, but in total honesty, a lot of our new features come from our customers – they drive innovation. During the pandemic, I remember that two or three American universities moved very quickly [with the new capability] to register the appropriate security certifications to allow on-site access. Similarly, one university in the US with more than 20,000 students created a hybrid model to quickly record vaccination data and integrate it with batch systems to allow site access. They did that in four weeks and that was based on being able to quickly change processes knowing you have the technology to support such changes.
In manufacturing during the pandemic, there were unprecedented peaks and troughs in terms of production activity – from grinding to a complete stop to production moving at a million miles per hour. There are examples of customers who had to create an emergency taskforce to optimise resourcing and related costs. This requires a very close collaboration between finance, human resources and other business leaders to really speed up the planning process. They went from having quarterly planning processes to weekly planning processes. In some cases, they had to re-plan every week. Right now, they’re at the other extreme of having peak demand. All of a sudden you have to replan, rethink permanent and temporary staffing and consider different variables to really optimise.
How are Workday and its customers thinking hybrid work and how it impacts business operations?
I think it’s one of the most interesting topics, because it impacts almost every organisation. Many workers aren’t returning to the office, [and some] will never have experienced their company’s office, because they started as a remote worker. In Europe, the number of workmates has grown by more than 50% since COVID-19 and when we reopened our offices earlier this year, many employees had never set foot in a Workday office before.
We’re basing ourselves fundamentally on two principles. One is great flexibility in terms of how we approach the return to the office. And we adapt it in two ways: one by role, because we think that not all types of work have the same requirements in terms of where Workmates should be based. And then also by location, because there are a lot of variables there. We have generally avoided giving very strict indications of telling someone where they need to be working. We’re focusing much more on helping managers identify what we call, ‘the moments that matter’. Those are the kinds of activities that are much more effectively done in the office.
One of our objectives is to have as little turnover as possible, because we don’t want to lose good employees and it’s also very expensive. What we’ve observed is a very strong correlation between employee retention and three fundamental factors. One is the perception of career opportunities. Next is the employee’s perception of how they’re developing and the training they’re being given. And the third is the connections an employee has. There has naturally been less interaction given people haven’t been in the office, so that’s something we’re actively focusing on improving.
As you just mentioned, employee retention and keeping workers happy is a challenge in this new world. How is Workday thinking about employee engagement and retaining talent?
I think employee engagement is very important and has to be done in the right way. At Workday, each week, we send our employees several questions that they answer anonymously. That gives us extremely granular and valuable information, which allows us to measure sentiment and what the concerns really are. We use Workday Peakon Employee Voice and because of the way it’s structured, it allows our employees to be heard, with feedback filtering right through to senior leadership.
That’s very powerful and it directly impacts the way we plan. You need active listening to successfully engage employees. For example, a team of people in London has a different reality to a team in Dublin and that experience is very different to a team in Salt Lake City. Having a mechanism to listen and then having the hard data and insights to actively bring those voices to life is absolutely key to successful employee engagement.
*Accenture: What does cloud innovation worthy of a spy movie look like?*
By Teresa Tung, Cloud First Chief Technologist, Accenture
Have you ever imagined playing the role of a spy like James Bond? Any 007 fan knows that saving the day takes more than smarts and agility. It’s the gadgets that make the spy superhuman.
Bond’s gadgets are underpinned by technology like real-time decision making, sensing and automation. They need to work wherever Bond works – and of course that’s places with limited or no connectivity.
Bond’s gadgets are underpinned by technology like real-time decision making, sensing and automation. They need to work wherever Bond works – and of course that’s places with limited or no connectivity.
The 007 gadgets are discreet, hiding in plain sight in his watch or pen and so the technology needs to fit within a small space and run on ultra-low power. They support critical missions that are private, highly secure and literal life-or-death scenarios.
Last but certainly not least, they need to be cost-effective, because we know Bond doesn’t take good care of them.
What’s amazing is that Bond’s gadgets can be real today with the Cloud Continuum – specifically with its next-generation capabilities like 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality, edge, robotics and emerging IT infrastructure.
Cloud Continuum’s pool of compute resources stretches from the core to the edge and everywhere in between. And that means you can live out your own ‘licence to thrill’ with your products and services, and how you work and live.
The Continuum: The Cloud Continuum
When I describe my job as Chief Technologist of Accenture Cloud First, I often say that I’m Q, the head of research and development that creates Bond’s gadgets.
Q anticipates the mission needs and packages game-changing technology into a form that fits the purpose and is easy to use. In fact, that’s exactly how I described my role at the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show. My mission? Use the Cloud Continuum to bring Bond’s gadgets into the real world.
These two sides of the Continuum are the secret codes:
The cloud is an extension of place
We all know the cloud for its on-demand, commodified compute that you can access whenever and at whatever scale you need. But there are new resources on a continuum that go outside the cloud’s core data centres and into the network, the neighbourhood, onsite and on devices.
These new places offer localised resources that are closest to the data source and the point of action. The loop is now closed and we can sense, analyse and act, all in real-time. This is what makes your self-driving car, robot-assisted surgery and your immersive gaming system all possible.
Fancy training AI models in the core to take advantage of compute scale, but running inferencing at the edge to enable immediate actions? No problem! Like Q, the Continuum lets us embed intelligence and automation anywhere and into everyday things and places.
The cloud as an engine of innovation
Thanks to the cloud, we can invent something and try it out immediately. That’s because the cloud is always available and providers launch new services all the time (like accessing the latest hardware and even quantum computing).
From an innovation perspective, I’m building on the shoulders of cloud giants. I can use these new building blocks to reimagine the next generation of wellness, work and retail experiences. And like Q, I’m not starting with the core science, but innovating how we apply technology.
Together, these two dimensions of the Cloud Continuum make the real world look a bit more like a Bond movie. Our digital landscape – from our home appliances to our buildings – is smarter and more real-time than ever.
The smart car adapts to the chase
In every Bond movie, there’s always the car. It’s sexy in large part because it’s smart and can act on its own to support Bond.
The Cloud Continuum can make Bond’s car real. Compute in the cloud core powers the creation of AI built with new hardware accelerators that process more data super-fast to optimise the car for speed, traction and durability. It’s at the edge where these models run right on the vehicle. The models apply real-time data generated along the high-speed chase to direct Bond via voice, or to trigger the car to reconfigure itself. Seamless connectivity synchronises the data across core and edge, and even allows Bond to remotely operate the car to get himself out of a sticky situation. The Continuum augments the car with intelligence and automation to adapt to whatever Bond needs.
Back in the real world, we are working with automotive equipment manufacturers to create not just a smart car, but a hyper-personalised car using the Cloud Continuum for ultra-low power voice recognition.
We’re using the cloud core to create the initial AI model and then the edge to personalise it while keeping data secure. It’s at the edge where the model is trained exactly for each individual. That means it adapts to my voice and its particular lilt as a woman, an Asian woman, an Asian woman from California wearing a mask, and it will continue to adapt as my voice changes. The Continuum allows us to get the best model to start with and the ability to continuously refine it for every permutation that’s encountered.
With the Cloud Continuum, any product can become intelligent thanks to software and frequent updates. The Continuum gives products unparalleled flexibility to be hyper-personalised and evolve thanks to a continuous innovation cycle – no replacement necessary.
The gadgets work together to adapt to the place
When Bond infiltrates the bad guy’s lair, his gadgets help him find what he’s looking for while keeping him safe.
Cloud Continuum is what’s going to create, maintain and use a digital twin (a digital representation of a physical thing) of the lair to help Bond plan and navigate his missions. It’s not just a static view. The Continuum extends Bond’s human senses, where seamless connectivity feeds data from sensors at the edge.
Some of this data synchronises the twin in the core, where processing scales to look for anomalies and patterns in sound and movement. The most important data is processed right at the edge, where it might be helping Bond break the code and unlock a door or controlling a robot to diffuse a bomb. The Continuum maintains a twin of the lair that monitors and even adapts the space to give Bond an advantage in the place.
Let’s go back to reality. We’re working with retailers to help you with your own mission: go to the market, get the things you need and do it all safely and efficiently. We’re bringing elements of the digital retail experience into the physical environment. The physical store ‘knows’ your preferences, makes personalised offers and automates your journey to checkout.
How is this all possible? The Cloud Continuum creates a digital twin of the store that’s used to coordinate all the devices: beacons, cameras, signage or a self-checkout system. All this tech works together to better direct your shopping journey, reminding you of things on your list, delighting you with recommendations and offers. The store itself is better maintained with a twin that automatically monitors if inventory needs to be reshelved, or if a spill needs to be cleaned. It might even direct a robot to perform some of these tasks.
The Cloud Continuum puts the digital into the physical not just for a product, but for an experience that takes over an entire space. The environment itself adapts and becomes a platform for creating new experiences, personalised to the users.
Connected anywhere to save the day
Bond goes everywhere – in the desert, the middle of the ocean or any city – and needs to communicate effectively and securely. The Cloud Continuum supports a future where Bond can deploy a custom high-speed network anywhere he goes to bring the intelligence and automation he needs. He may configure an existing public 5G network in the city or deploy his own in a remote area. He may deploy a drone to add more bandwidth to support, giving headquarters a better view zooming into higher definition 4K video. The Continuum enables rapid deployment of intelligence, allowing Bond to connect his gadgets anywhere.
We’ve also worked with natural resources companies to extend their reach into the most challenging environments. Wells and pipelines are located in areas that might, at best, have a satellite connection, where only helicopter access is possible because of extremely challenging terrain.
The Cloud Continuum adds intelligence and automation in these places. For example, at the wells, we’re using the Continuum to deploy predictive models developed in the cloud to operate independently at the edge. For the pipelines, we’re deploying a drone to survey and bring back the data we need and then process it in the cloud. We’re deploying private cellular networks at refineries to extend critical connectivity, keep the workers safe and extend operations in previously unreachable areas.
Cloud innovation worthy of a Bond mission
The Cloud Continuum taps into the massive power and scale of compute in the core and offers the option to act anywhere and immediately at the edge. It offers the elastic on-demand scale with new capabilities like ultra-low latency, real-time decision making, personal privacy and security and hyper-personalised experiences. All needed to bring 007 gadgets to life. And if you don’t see yourself playing Bond in real life, you can apply these innovations to customise your customers’ orders in a fast-food restaurant, extend healthcare experience to your patients’ homes or to improve worker safety in your manufacturing plant.
*Deloitte: A new language for digital transformation*
By Deloitte experts:
US Strategy and Analytics Offerings Leader
Chief Innovation and Chief Digital Officer
Global Head of Deloitte Digital
Cyber and Strategic Risk Leader
Organisations still struggle to advance digital transformation. A common language that transcends technology could be the key to strategic transformation.
From disruptors and disruptive tech to pandemics, political unrest and climate change, future success depends on adaptation. To survive and thrive, leaders should determine how to maintain a competitive advantage and enable an ability to win in a way that doesn’t just withstand change but embraces it for new strategic possibilities.
An adaptive business in the 21st century is typically a digitally-powered business, leading many organisations to pursue digital transformation. But why do so many transformations fail to deliver tangible impact? Why is it so hard to drive cross-functional change, plan beyond one technology at a time, or create a strategy that can adapt as technology evolves and organisations shift their core assumptions? Creating a common, strategically linked language for digital transformation could be the answer to achieving digital advantage and adaptability.
Framing the digital transformation conversation
While 85% of CEOs accelerated digital initiatives during the pandemic, most can’t articulate their overall strategy and progress beyond that they made a tech investment. The imperative for change is increasingly the creation of an adaptable business – one that can thrive in the digital economy. If CEOs can’t say their digital transformation resulted in new business advantages or adaptability, then they haven’t really transformed. This contrast between business and technology strategy highlights a broader phenomenon. Many leaders understand that technology shouldn’t drive business strategy, yet all too often, that understanding is overridden by an impulse to ask questions like: ‘What should our AI strategy be?’ or to respond to events by making a series of tech-first, one-off investments. The urge to think in discrete technologies can be powerful.
Compounding this challenge is the fact that C-suite executives have different focus areas and goals. And, more than likely, a single technology won’t address their needs – a complex combination of solutions may be needed. Often C-suite execs don’t speak to each other when making tech decisions, or if they do, they struggle to effectively communicate. Digital transformation is a team sport and should use a playbook to coordinate strategies across leadership functions with consistency in the face of change.
While many organisations have a digital strategy, they lack a common language to strategise across functions, making it challenging to digitally transform and address related opportunities and risks. Indeed, a common language for digital transformation can enable C-suite executives beyond just the CTO or CIO to have tech-adjacent and tech-agnostic conversations. These can transcend any individual technology and go to the heart of their processes, culture and how people work and interact.
By embracing a common language, organisations can begin to:
Break through human behavioural and structural barriers. Everything in an organisation is interconnected. Leaders across functions can speak thematically about shared needs, avoid redundant investments, address emerging risks and change processes at scale by simply communicating better.
Plan beyond a single technology. Platforms, capabilities and initiatives often involve multiple digital and physical technologies securely working together. As these technologies combine, they become greater than the sum of their parts to bring new capabilities and greater value.
Evolve into the future. Today’s breakthrough technology is tomorrow’s legacy tech. A common language can enable leaders to think flexibly across a matrix of business and technology needs, without having the business strategy reliant on any single technology.
Achieve a greater strategic business value through its capacity to change and ability to win. This approach helps organisations better align and execute against their business strategy to achieve their desired results of advantage and adaptability of the organisation, people and technology.
In fact, Deloitte’s soon-to-be-published research on the exponential enterprise has found that on average, a company with above-median scores on both the ability to win and capacity for change indices enjoys measurable rewards. These firms saw a price-to-earnings ratio that’s 53% larger and share price volatility that’s 21% less than industry rivals, with below-median scores on both dimensions based on data from 2015–2020.
The language of digital transformation should have one foot on the business side and one foot grounded in downstream technology and operations, steering clear of technical terminology to ensure that all parties can understand and contribute to the conversation. Leaders across industries recognise the need to connect the two spheres in an approachable, universal way. As Tighe Wall, Chief Digital Officer at Contact Energy, explains: “If you want to get closer to, and become more vital to the business and its strategy, you need to speak the same language as the business. Every company will become more technologically and digitally focused in the coming years. The ones who will be successful are the people who have already bridged that gap and are already speaking the same language in the business as they are in technology”.
Five imperatives to drive digital transformation
We’ve identified five business outcomes that technology impacts and enables that can help to build that common language. By thinking thematically across these five digital imperatives – experience, insights, platforms, connectivity and integrity – organisations can communicate across functions in a way that puts strategy before technology. This can lead to initiatives that deliver a more modular, flexible technology core that better delivers transformation and strategic value. Business-techno concepts can act as guardrails to help leaders avoid the trap of falling into a technology-led conversation. They can also help frame digital strategies that are linked to technical realities and workforce implications. In essence, they create a bridge for coordinated discussions between business and technology strategists and workforce and operations leaders.
Drilling down into more detail:
1. Experiences: Focus on optimising interactions with users, whether they are customers, the workforce or other stakeholders within the ecosystem
2. Insights: Assess what data, analysis, operating model and workforce are required to enable organisational strategies
3. Platforms: Focus on the location and management of information across an organisation or its network
4. Connectivity: Involves the flow of information between platforms, experiences and insights, encompassing the future of the internet and networking with other organisations and ecosystems
5. Integrity: Focuses on improving resilience, security, ethical tech and trust across all internal and external facing business systems and processes with a cyber-minded culture to address continuously evolving threats
There will be more than one technology to consider for each imperative. Thinking about the imperatives as categories, or ‘capability stacks’, can be useful. Themes allow change categories to become fixed as technology changes. This way, leaders can consider today’s enabling and disruptive technologies (cloud, IoT, blockchain, AI, cybersecurity, mobile, 5G, digital reality, edge computing, quantum and others), while leaving the same strategy in place for future disruptive and horizon-next technologies to meet the same strategic objectives.
Putting the imperatives to work: Align strategy and drive transformation
Organisations can use these imperatives as a vocabulary to build a digital strategy aligned to the organisation’s strategic north star.
Start by considering how that overarching ambition cascades across business, technology and workforce considerations:
1. What’s the enterprise objective for digital transformation? Capacity to change? Ability to win? Both?
2. Across each of the five digital imperatives, ask the following questions:
• What’s the strategic business goal that best supports our enterprises’ objective(s)?
• How do we need technology to support this business goal in terms of purpose, function, security and risk requirements?
• What will the operations and workforce impacts be for those business and technical or security decisions?
• Conversely, will workforce strategies and capabilities impact the transformation strategy in a way that considers profound changes across leadership teams, operating models, ecosystems and the workforce aligned to strategy?
3. We can then arrive at a technology strategy, with planned technology investments that ladder up to the overarching organisational ambition and align with organisational and workforce transformation needs.
Let’s look at an example to further explain creating a smart factory strategy. First, assess the enterprise objective for the smart factory, for example, to manufacture small batches or to personalise items at reduced cost versus current mass manufacturing approaches. Second, build the digital business strategy by considering how each of the five imperatives aligns to these manufacturing goals in terms of the insights needed, the platforms and connectivity required and, finally, how to do so with integrity. Then, broadly consider your technology requirements aligned to the digital business strategy down the list of digital imperatives. Instead of starting with cloud as an assumed investment, discuss a range of technologies (that may or may not include cloud), and the implications of those technologies on the workforce and operations. The result could be better strategic alignment across the digital business strategy, technology investment strategy and organisational or workforce transformation agenda.
Change, compete, win: Getting to value with the five imperatives
While our proposed framework may be new, the challenging practice of adopting an integrated, cross-functional approach to digital transformation is not. But achieving such an integrated approach is vital. When we analysed data from 2,860 global business and public-sector leaders responding to Deloitte’s 2021 Digital Transformation Executive Survey, we saw that the technologies listed in our survey that align with these imperatives were rated as the top five most important to enable digital transformation. Additionally, we saw that the more digital imperatives these organisations adopted, the greater their digital maturity and profitability. In addition, more digitally integrated organisations measurably outperformed on their strategic objectives, capacity to change and ability to win.
To effectively gauge the value organisations can gain from increased adoption of the digital imperatives, we broke respondents into two groups. These groups are ‘digital all-rounders’, who have implemented three or more digital imperatives (~13% of respondents), and ‘digitally developing’, who have implemented fewer than three digital imperatives (~87% of respondents). While ~67% have embraced at least one digital imperative, when organisations combined them in an integrated digital strategy, they saw greater value.
Digital all-rounders lead digitally developing organisations in terms of:
- Capacity to change: Digital all-rounders were better able to scale, more frequently achieving full-scale implementations (77% vs. 64%), and said their digital capabilities significantly helped them deal with the challenges of COVID-19 (35% vs. 24%)
- Ability to win: All-rounders also reported successfully achieving revenue growth rates that are above industry average (74% vs. 65%) and cited their digital capabilities as a key differentiator (36% vs. 25%)
Whether they realise it or not, many organisations are already taking this integrated approach. We interviewed four global leaders responsible for their organisations’ digital transformation, each in different business and technical functions, industries and geographies and found that they were already approaching transformation in this way – but without a clear language and framing to guide them.
From these conversations, we learned that this framework can effectively guide organisations with three digital transformation objectives:
Optimise one digital imperative across business, technology and workforce
Integrate multiple imperatives to build a more comprehensive single strategy
Adopt a combined approach that integrates multiple imperatives across these strategies
Prudential, for example, focused on optimising the insights imperative across business, technology and workforce and operational strategies. When designing its algorithm to automate underwriting, they engaged underwriters to gain greater adoption and value from the transformation. Robert Huntsman, Chief Data Scientist for Prudential Financial’s Life Insurance and Retirement business, explained: “The way they work is changing, so, knowing that, underwriters have been involved from day one in helping to write the requirements. They’ve worked to craft how the model works as well as in changing their own processes for how they would interact with the model. Now, for 60% of applications, you can get an expedited decision – reducing the amount of time an underwriter needs to spend on evaluating an application. That’s a huge cost saving for the company which enables us to be more price competitive and provide our customers the services they need faster.”
Alternatively, the framework can help organisations to consider building a more integrated business strategy that includes platform, insights, experience, connectivity and integrity. Manoj Raghunandanan, President of Global Self Care and the Consumer Experience Organisation (CxO) at Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health, articulated a digital transformation business strategy touching on all five of the imperatives. These are: a platform approach to improve end-to-end data connectivity across customer insights and experience in a way that considered data integrity. He explained, “we’re focusing on connecting our organisation from end-to-end to create an improved and more transparent experience for our consumers, customers and our suppliers [of] ingredients. This requires connecting all the data from the very beginning of research and development, through the supply chain, to our retail customers, and through to the consumer.”
British American Tobacco and Contact Energy looked at a combination of several of the digital imperatives aligned across business, technology and operations/workforce strategies. Elaine Chum, Area Head of Digital Transformation at British American Tobacco, North Asia, explained how she is leading her organisation’s online retail platform strategy in Japan to create a direct-to-customer buying experience within the regulatory integrity requirements to drive increased sales revenue. She explains: “In today’s world, I should be able to deliver within 24 hours. We started looking at consumer experience and restrictions” and with those three imperatives in mind, advised, “put the consumer experience in the front, middle and back of your company’s agenda. Look at the strategy element, the internal business processes and how it can enable transformation, the technology and its platforms that we own and operate in, the capabilities that we have, talent, people, resources [and] the organisation structure”. This notably emphasised the unique challenges of operating in a region that values stability over change and finding Japanese-speaking digital talent.
Additionally, New Zealand’s Contact Energy is extending the digital platform their organisation initially created to optimise customer experience and reduce friction for customer service representatives, enhancing workforce operations. Having a comprehensive, matrixed strategy in place can allow for this type of flexible, synergistic decision-making that keeps the overall organisational ambition in mind.
A language for today’s transformation – and tomorrow’s
Our digital imperatives can enable organisations to drive transformations that align to their overarching ambition while remaining open to future strategy changes. They acknowledge the importance of AI, cloud and cybersecurity today but leave room to evolve toward ‘horizon next’ eight technologies, avoiding the trap of leaping at every shiny new technology. Ultimately, they help design-adaptive business processes and technology architectures (modular ‘capability stacks’) that embrace constant change and reconfiguration in the face of ongoing disruption and risk with the goal of compatibility for multiple possible futures. As Raghunandanan of Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health states, “We’re not done. We’re not going to be done. We’re only done at the speed of technology being done and, if you look at it, it’s changing every single day.”
*Workday global study:
CIOs hold the key to
By Workday Staff Writers
According to our latest global survey, the requirements of digital transformation are placing huge demands on technology leaders. See how CIOs can gain a strategic edge in the new world of work.
Because technology has become so firmly embedded in almost every organisation’s strategy and decision-making, the CIO’s role is more important than ever.
From collaborating with the CFO to plan, execute and analyse operational change at pace and scale, to empowering the CHRO to deliver hybrid and inclusive digital experiences, the CIO key. They’re a driver of organisational agility and sustainable digital transformation and ensure a sound data foundation is in place across the whole business.
However, according to our global survey of 437 IT leaders ‘Closing the acceleration gap: Toward sustainable digital transformation’, digital transformation efforts are creating daunting demands for CIOs. We found that half of IT leaders (50%) are struggling to keep pace with IT service upgrades, and 59% say that it can take weeks or months to change an automated business process.
So, how can CIOs attain and retain a strategic edge in the new world of work?
Pace of change will make or break the CIO
Despite frustrations with their ability to keep up and amid challenging conditions for all functions during the pandemic, IT leaders are actually the most optimistic of all leaders about their ability to continue to meet the demands of their organisations. More than half (53%) agree that their teams are equipped to ensure continuity in times of crisis – the highest proportion of any of the business functions surveyed.
Digital transformation leader, Charles Ewen, who is CIO and Director of Technology at the Met Office (the UK’s national weather service), says the Met Office started “from a great place with much work done” when transitioning to working remotely due to COVID-19. But he also warns there is little room, or time, for complacency.
Organisations that broke into this field during the pandemic are now leapfrogging ahead. “I don’t think we’ve built the pace and momentum that some other organisations have built,” he acknowledges. “The risk is that we’re going to be left behind.”
For digitally mature businesses such as the Met Office, dealing with legacy systems poses a major organisational and technical challenge. According to our research, just 42% of IT leaders are confident in their teams’ ability to adopt cloud technologies without legacy constraints. That said, they’re driven by the knowledge that unifying technology is the key to data accessibility and can unlock their ability to deliver on digital transformation initiatives. Because of this, more than 45% view unifying technology as a priority investment area to help their team meet the demands of the business as it evolves.
Bigger-picture visionaries with customer focus
Another challenge lies in the increasingly multidisciplinary nature of the CIO role, which has evolved as technology continues to help companies achieve their wider business objectives.
As well as a 360-degree view of the business, a customer-first mindset is a vital attribute of the progressive CIO. An intense focus on the consumer is in the DNA of e-commerce company Tokopedia, which has identified key technology priorities as a foundation for its innovation. “Tokopedia intends to continue to innovate by offering, through technology, solutions to any problems Indonesians experience” explains Tokopedia CTO Herman Widjaja.
Charles Ewen from the Met Office also highlights growing evidence of multidisciplinary skills within the IT function, a trend that has grown in response to customer needs: “Often, part of application development these days will involve an element of data science, as well as UX specialists, social scientists and hardcore scientists. That’s the kind of team that will engage with the customer, try to discover what they want and then go ahead and build it.”
of IT leaders plan to invest in compliance, and/or privacy and protection
plan to invest in technology to unify financial, people and operational data
plan to invest in technology to integrate data better between disparate systems/break down data silos
plan to invest in improved access to quality, useable data
plan to invest in faster acquisition of new skills and talent
A data-first culture to facilitate change
Data security, privacy and governance are critical concerns for CIOs. The need to transform digitally, at pace, requires them to reimagine their place as the gatekeepers of all data and decentralise the report-writing function. By doing this they can start to liberate themselves to focus on innovation and transformation projects.
For example, more than one-third of IT leaders (35%) are focused on removing reliance on IT as data gatekeepers in order to democratise decision-making and empower their teams to become strategic partners of the wider business. This highlights the need for IT leaders to provide secure channels, applications and systems that will allow their organisations to break down data silos while maintaining a firm grip on data security and governance.
Ensuring all business leaders are confident using a data-first approach will also be critical to the success both of the CIO and of the wider organisation. For example, to empower CHROs and their teams to overcome critical skills and talent-management issues, CIOs must ensure that the right data is unified and made accessible. They must also check HR leaders are equipped with the skills, tools and access necessary to remain informed of new developments in real time – not once they’re a problem or an opportunity has already passed.
CIO: Data-literacy champion?
Artificial intelligence (AI) analytics will have an increasingly important role to play in helping teams crunch the numbers, supporting the CIO in delivering data-fuelled transformation. “There’s so much data that you need to ask 100,000 different questions of it to really get at the insights” says Pete Schlampp, Chief Strategy Officer at Workday. “Most businesses lack the people and the skills to interpret the data in front of them. That’s where we have to rely on machines to help us find the trends we need to look at.”
According to Pete Schlampp, few companies have all of the data they need collated in one location. Our research shows only 12% of leaders say their business data is fully accessible to those who need it. Schlampp suggests looking at only part of the available data can have pitfalls: “Having half of the picture is often worse than not having anything at all, because you can make half-baked decisions.”
To retain a strategic edge in the new world of work, CIOs must champion data literacy and communicate its business value across their organisations. CIOs already know that data is at the core of the digital transformation that is essential to the modern business – now perhaps their most important job is to make sure everyone else does, too.