C-Level Fireside Chat: The Big Pivot Is On: Digital Strategy Is Business Strategy

Prior to 2020, companies were deciding how to move forward with their digital transformation strategies. Some organizations were deciding if 2020 was the year to replace legacy systems. Others were looking at omnichannel delivery. No one was anticipating the events of 2020.

At ONUG Fall 2020, companies came together virtually to discuss digital transformation in the context of a global pandemic. This session looks at how companies are pivoting to become digital enterprises.

The following three executives participated in the session:

  • Rebecca Wooters, CDO Signet
  • Subbu Allamaraju, VP Expedia
  • George Maddaloni, CTO MasterCard

The moderator of the session was Tsvi Gal, an ONUG Board member and Head of Enterprise Technology Services (Infrastructure) at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

How to Become a Digital Enterprise?

A digital transformation requires a digital culture. It is as Tsvi said, “digital transformation requires a change in thinking.” Organizations can’t repackage what they’ve always done and called it transformation. What is needed is a digital strategy.

Digital Culture

Digital culture is an environment in which technology shapes the way we interact, including how we work and conduct business.

For Rebecca Wooters of Signet, a digital culture was already a way of life. They were already working in small digital-oriented teams and Signet’s digital transformation was already underway.

What they weren’t ready for was the rapid move to online shopping once stay at home orders were in place. Suddenly, 40% of the consumers on their website were new to online shopping. Signet was able to quickly pivot by leveraging its digital strategy to address increased online demand.

Digital Strategy

A digital strategy is an approach an organization takes to integrate technology into all business areas, creating a fundamental shift in how business is done and value is delivered to customers.

As George pointed out, MasterCard had already made the digital shift. It moved from paper-based processing with physical cards to virtual cards that are entirely digital. The next step in their digital journey is streamlining processes to deliver services faster and how to address the global market. 

Countries are becoming more distinct in how they view privacy as well as consumer protection and financial regulations. MasterCard has to focus on how to make the existing model pivot to address more country-specific requirements.

How Can You Leverage Legacy Systems?

Replacing legacy systems is expensive. It’s essential to look at the move in terms of time to value and cost to value, according to Subbu Allamaraju. That analysis doesn’t mean that legacy systems won’t be replaced. Instead, evaluating the cost and time involved to receive a return on the investment can identify where to begin that move. 

For example, one system may have a low cost but a high time to value. Before it can be of value in the digital strategy, other legacy systems need to be moved. In some other cases, migrating a legacy system is cost-prohibitive. 

The legacy system’s functionality may need to be analyzed to determine if there is a way to integrate features into other applications. Are there parts of the legacy system that are no longer needed? Precisely what is it that the company needs going forward?

What Role Does the Public Cloud Play in Building a Digital Enterprise?  

By moving to the public cloud, companies can accelerate their digital transformation; however, that is only addressing the technology of transformation. They should not assume that moving to the cloud completes their digital transformation.

To be successful, companies still need a strategy for how technology will be used to add value and address customer expectations. Without a plan, the transformation will fail. Businesses must have a clear understanding of what is required from a cloud-based solution.

Cloud-based solutions can reduce the technology costs for a digital transformation, but they cannot ensure success without the necessary strategy and culture.

How Do Enterprises Pivot?

Pivoting comes from being customer-focused. If companies pay attention to their customers, they can use their technology and agility to deliver solutions that address customer needs. For example, you need to add functionality to your eCommerce site. 

Traditional approaches often delay delivery until all the functionality is available, even though only a small percentage of features will improve the customer experience. Instead of waiting until all the bells and whistles are in place, agile companies update the site with those enhancements that add value for the customer. The bells and whistles can wait.

As Rebecca pointed out, being agile isn’t about being faster. Companies may be able to deliver products and services faster with an agile infrastructure, but the focus should be on customer value. Agile means providing what the customer expects as quickly as possible. 

Tsvi agreed, it is imperative that companies do not lose sight of the customer. He stressed that sometimes the best solution does not involve technology, especially in places like the cancer center. That doesn’t mean that an organization has not addressed digital transformation. It means they have retained a customer focus, knowing that technology cannot replace the human touch.

Learning to Pivot

As we continue to explore technical solutions to business problems, we cannot forget that digital transformation is not about technology but about the customer. If the technology cannot add value to the customer experience, the cost to value may be too high. At the same time, businesses must recognize that not everything that improves the customer experience is seen or used by the customer. Sometimes, it is automating processes to streamline operations or to free employees for more high-level tasks.

Join us at ONUG Spring, May 5-6, 2021 to learn more about how technology can advance your company’s digital transformation. If you would like more information about the upcoming event, contact us through the website.

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