Why savvy digital visionaries see beyond the nearby clouds

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While the decisive CEOs have a digital transformation agenda, those companies executing plans to re-imagine their business models are in the minority. And yet, the early adopters now using cloud computing are enabled to respond quickly to changing market conditions. In contrast, the laggards are undecided and risk falling further behind.

This is a global phenomena, where the industry and local market leaders are able to enact their transition with limited interference or threats from more traditional competitors. Just consider the current status-quo within the United Kingdom, as an example.

The transformation of UK businesses is still relatively immature. Many organisations are aware of the potential of open hybrid cloud adoption, but they fail to actively address the technical debt that defines their legacy IT environment. Besides, they tend to narrowly focus on a small snapshot of the bigger picture.

While some British leaders have progressive transformational goals under consideration, much more work is needed if they are to reach their full digital potential. This is the key finding from the latest market study by the UK-based Cloud Industry Forum (CIF).

Their study was conducted in the fourth quarter of 2015. They polled 250 senior IT and business decision-makers from both the public and private sectors. What they uncovered was not encouraging: just 16% of organisations have a digital transformation strategy in place. However in two years, 72% of those polled say they will be better prepared. What are they waiting for, before they act? Perhaps they need a little guidance to show them the way forward.

Maybe they seek someone who can describe how to distinguish between the herd of unimaginative me-too cloud service providers, and thereby offer an alternative point of view - one that can demonstrate they've navigated boldly across a complex and disruptive digital business transformation landscape.

“Cloud computing is the agent of digital disruption, and we can see that there are significant benefits to be had by businesses that pursue both digital transformation and cloud computing strategies in tandem, ” stated Alex Hilton, CEO of CIF.

Hilton believes that cloud computing and digital transformation go hand in hand. In fact, 85% of UK businesses with a digital transformation plan have already benefited from a tangible competitive advantage.

Cloud services form the foundation of digital transformation and can facilitate rapid business change. That is apparent, it’s also clear from their research that transformation strategies serve to enhance the effectiveness and benefits of cloud computing implementations.

That's why the more progressive organisations have focused on developing multifaceted talent - beyond basic technical-centricity. The notion of engaging a Digital Polymath is compelling. Harnessing the wisdom of a worldly open-minded individual that acknowledges the near-term challenges and opportunities, yet also has the vision to be able to anticipate the broader future.

Other key findings from the study include:

  • 13% of organisations that have implemented, or planning on implementing a digital transformation strategy, say that cloud is critical to it, and a further 80% say that cloud is important.
  • Implementing a digital transformation strategy benefits cloud users, and those that have are statistically more likely to report experiencing greater benefits from their cloud deployments.
  • 38% of cloud users with a digital transformation strategy say that cloud has given their organisations a significant competitive advantage. This figure is higher than the number that do not have a digital transformation strategy reporting the same (5%).
  • The cost savings of cloud users also increases if the organisation has implemented a digital transformation strategy (26% average saving) compared to those who have not (9% average saving).
  • The CIO is the most likely to be the driving force behind digital transformation, and by some margin at 60%. The next most likely is the CEO in 18% of cases.
  • 59% of organisations that currently have, or are in the process of implementing, a digital transformation strategy say it will steer the use of technology over the next decade.
  • 43% of survey respondents report that the intention is to achieve better use of data and analytics, and 30% report it is to improve innovation abilities.

The UK market study results are somewhat consistent with the findings of similar surveys of business leaders in the North America region. Striving to merely reach parity with the more progressive market leaders in your industry is likely a blueprint for a myopic plan of action. When you eventually arrive at that destination, you discover that the goal posts have already moved.

The alternative perspective - think ahead; imagine what's next; define that future state; design a distinctive digital agenda that's very difficult for competitors to simply replicate; execute in the now.

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