Photo - (In centre) Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) Chief Operating Officer Dato' Ng Wan Peng arrives to deliver her keynote address.
Technology's role and impact on digital transformation and customer engagement was at the forefront of CIO Summit Malaysia 2016, which saw a full house of local IT professional kicking off the 2016 CIO Summit series to held across six Asian countries. While businesses continue to depend on technology to improve productivity and efficiency, they are increasingly drawing on technology's more analytical components such as big data to understand customer behaviour and drive customer engagement.
Jointly organised by Executive Networks Media (publisher of CIO Asia Magazine) and IDC at The Vertical (VE Hotel & Residence), Kuala Lumpur on 18 August 2016, the summit focused on the theme 'From CIO to the Digital Executive: Innovate, Integrate and Incorporate.'
In addition to keynote presentations from industry analysts, subject matter experts and IT leaders of organisations already undergoing digital transformation, CIOs and senior technology delegates participated in breakfast and lunch networking sessions, as well as a series of executive network table discussions with their peers and industry experts on topics such as change and legacy management, digital and customer engagement and emerging technologies.
Delegates also participated in electronic real-time voting which provided an indication of the current state of digital transformation in Malaysia. Big data and analytics were seen as key technologies which would impact business over the next five years, but organisations were facing difficulties in recruiting talent with those skill sets. Delegate voting also revealed that increasing efficiency and revenue were the top drivers for implementing new technology. However, cost remained the main inhibitor.
Leading in 3D
"In 2016, we are in the second phase of digital transformation where it needs to be scaled to a larger level," said IDC Asia/Pacific group vice president, Practices, Sandra Ng in her keynote opening address. "Scale is the critical element, regardless of whether you are a domestic or multinational corporation, a small-scale or large-scale business, or whether you are growing at a rarefied-pace or at a low-pace. The ability to scale digital transformation is of critical importance to gain competitive advantage."
Ng pointed out that most CEOs had a vision to be the leading enterprise or a leading enterprise in its marketplace. "To realise this vision, organisations need to harness innovation from the ICT industry. Digital transformation is a customer-centric business strategy, but technology is the underlying foundation as it helps organisations differentiate and transform in the marketplace. Innovation from the industry will be critical to conceptualise and apply the organisation's strategy," she added.
IDC's survey showed that CIOs were placing increasing value on those who created opportunities leveraging on technology. "This shows that as a region we are taking transformation and digital disruption seriously in leveraging technology to create new market spaces and operational models to compete better," said Ng. "Traditionally, the key performance index (KPI) set has been focused on productivity gain and optimising cost operation and cost management. A change in this mindset has to start from the digital transformation leadership."
Speaking of IDC's 'Leading in 3D' transformation leadership model as the CIO's digital accelerator, Ng referred to three critical IT leadership disciplines - innovation, integration and incorporation.
"Innovation is about fast IT - such as agility and innovation. Incorporation focuses on legacy IT, its modernisation and change management, whilst integration connects the new pieces resulting from innovation with legacy pieces and incorporation, and is an important element for scaling across the enterprise and eco-system," she explained. "Leading in 3D treats the delivery of digital transformation-added business value as a continuous process linking these three disciplines."
Innovation would require CIOs to re-balance their talent portfolio by training them to meet digital demands and develop customer-engagement expertise. "Train your people to think differently, and create or source innovative programmes," urged Ng. "You also need to learn fast from your mistakes and move on from them quickly."
For incorporation, the focus was on change management. "Incorporation is not just about modernising IT. It is also about change management which is critical for digital transformation to succeed. Create a flexible infrastructure which delivers integrated services which is data-driven and adaptive to business needs," advised Ng.
Meanwhile, the integration platform had to serve both customer-facing and ecosystem-facing functions. "It must be able to implement cross-functional programme management because you want to scale and deliver enterprise application on a standard platform," said Ng. "This involves an architecture and information strategy that adapts to new innovation. Adopt tools and methodology which allows for experimentation."
Ideally organisations would be able to implement all three disciplines. Realistically, they may have to prioritise. "In deciding which discipline to prioritise, consider your CEO's vision and the timeframe given, then pick the dimension which will meet that vision and timeframe," suggested Ng.
Embracing disruptive technologies
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