IT Execs Struggling with Transition to Digital Business Model
March 02, 2016

Pete Goldin
APMdigest

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IT and business professionals in the US and Europe understand the value of adopting a digital business model but struggle to find the best way to engineer it to deliver the greatest value to employees and customers, according to new research from Unisys Corporation.

The digital business model represents the convergence of social technology, cloud, mobility, data analytics and security to drive new business models and engage, enable and support an increasingly tech-savvy workforce and customer base. The IT infrastructure enabling digital business transformation must be flexible and scalable on demand.

The 188 respondents to the survey – conducted for Unisys by IDG Research – appreciate that digital business transformation provides the key to elevating levels of service to those demanding internal and external constituencies: 55 percent cite that service requirement as their key challenge for 2016.

In addition, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of respondents consider it highly important for their organizations to modify technology, IT processes or IT resources over the next 12 months to implement digital business, focusing especially on five key priority areas: mobile application development, cloud deployment, social media, data analytics and security.

Yet 54 percent assess their organization's progress toward a digital-business model that delivers on user expectations as average or below average (32 and 22 percent, respectively), while 45 percent rate progress above average.

In addition, less than 20 percent of respondents who rate each of the five IT focus areas as critical or high priority for digital-business implementation report significant progress in any one area. Few indicate that their organization is ready to meet customer expectations over the next 12 months: only 41 percent indicate that their technology or infrastructure is prepared, while 40 percent and 39 percent, respectively, rate their IT skill sets and security/compliance strategies as adequate.

Respondents who consider each of the 5 IT initiatives as at least a moderate priority report the greatest progress in two key areas: 69 percent cite at least some progress in both mobile application development and cloud deployment, but cite less significant progress in social media, data analytics and security.

Making Progress

"Digital business can be a powerful force for enhanced productivity and competitive differentiation in a crowded marketplace," said Dan Huberty, VP, Vision, Strategy and Enterprise Architecture, Unisys. "However, the window for seizing the initiative is rapidly narrowing. Smart IT organizations must take steps now to implement a concerted digital-business strategy and infrastructure or risk missing a golden opportunity for innovation and growth."

Many respondents to the survey indicate that their organizations are making progress in areas crucial for delivering the benefits of digital business. For example, a third (34 percent) of respondents say that their organizations are struggling to deliver improved end-user and customer experiences, but 70 percent indicate that they are delivering persona-based service to support internal IT users (and another 15 percent of respondents would like to do so).

Persona-based services are personalized to the job or service requirements of a specific role, extending to internal users the principles of customer relationship management (CRM) that normally apply to external customers. The digital business model is a natural vehicle for CRM and other applications that rely on unified delivery of personalized, integrated information from multiple sources.

Digital businesses perform best when they transform into software-defined enterprises in which key enabling technologies are based on and connected through software to enable greater flexibility and scalability at lower cost than hardware-heavy data centers – the traditional hubs of enterprise IT. Service management for personalized delivery of vital productivity services and service integration and management for cost-efficient coordination of multiple external service providers are key to the success of the software-defined digital business.

Survey Methodology: IDG Research conducted the survey on Unisys' behalf in September and October 2015. The results are based on responses from 188 IT directors and vice-presidents in non-IT roles working for international organizations with 500-plus employees and US organizations of 1,000-plus employees. The respondents were based in the US, UK and Germany.

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