Wednesday, 13 March 2019 15:13

Digital transformation means survival for CxOs

By
Cisco APJC president Miyuki Suzuki Cisco APJC president Miyuki Suzuki

Digital transformation is largely being driven by CxOs because “they see it as survival”, according to Cisco APJC president Miyuki Suzuki.

Suzuki told the recent Cisco Live 2019 conference in Melbourne that large consulting firms are pushing the idea that business transformation comes before technology transformation.

Consequently, Cisco is working with various consultancies, including two large firms in Australia that she chose not to identify, as well as building its internal capability to address the needs of selected industries, including manufacturing and resources.

Cisco senior vice-president of operations Irving Tan said the company had been through the process and was eating its own dog food – even if he didn't actually use that phrase.

Cisco was previously one of the largest functionally organised companies in the world, he said

But it realised it needed to organise itself horizontally because different types of products — hardware, software and services — were increasingly being sold together.

“Digitalisation is a horizontal play,” he observed, adding that Cisco had deployed its own technology to help change the mindset. “We’re not 100% there yet.”

Cisco senior vice-president of IT and international chief information officer V.C. Gopalratnam told iTWire that companies were rebranding themselves as technology organisations. For example, Domino’s Pizza became Domino’s and saw itself as a logistics technology company, he said.

The trouble is that customers demanded new capabilities faster than ever, and they had the option to go elsewhere if a company did not deliver.

This problem was exacerbated by a shortage of talent. Technologies change quickly, so many businesses competed for the small pool of employees who had knowledge and experience in whatever technology was of current interest.

While it was possible to train existing staff, it was usually necessary to bring in at least some experienced people, said Gopalratnam.

But there were two kinds of skill sets, he observed.

The basics that bring people to the employment table were more the responsibility of the public sector, Gopalratnam suggested. “That’s what wins elections.”

Beyond those basic skills, potential employers considered the key attributes of entry-level staff to be a willingness to learn, and having the right attitude towards working as part of a team.

But the higher level skills required experiential learning, and were thus the responsibility of the private sector.

Organisations, therefore, needed to develop an employee-centric culture and provide people with opportunities to move into new areas: “if they don’t, the people will move on,” he said.

The chief information officer needed to he the “chief flexibility officer”, suggested Gopalratnam: open-minded, ready to partner with other organisations, and prepared to change direction when necessary.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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