Weathering the storms of disruption

Published on the 26/10/2022 | Written by Heather Wright

Data driven and digital…

Tony Olvet is clear: Becoming a data-driven business is the most important attribute for businesses to ride out the current storms of disruption. 

 There is plenty to confront with inflation, supply chain constraints, the Russia-Ukraine war, skills gap and the threat of a recession being thrown at every business. 

 Olvet, group vice president, worldwide C-Suite and future enterprise research for IDC Canada, says in a world of uncertainty and volatility, business leaders need to embrace digital technologies as a driver of growth and a way through those storms of disruption (in IDC parlance we’ve moved from ‘winds of change’, to ‘storms of disruption’). 

 And it’s that data-driven business aspect that is the most important attribute, Olvet, who is a keynote speaker at this year’s CIO Summit New Zealand in November, says.  

“Ensure your digital and business strategies are one and the same”

For example that means being able to use customer data to speed up the product design process, or to apply supply chain information to forecast inventory levels in real-time, or to use sensor networks to predict manufacturing defects, or even to give the right directions to a lone field worker lost in a remote area,” he tells iStart. 

 “Riding out the storms requires businesses not to lose sight of the long-term opportunities of the digital business era. That starts with strategy – and plans for adapting that strategy based on near- and mid-term changes in business conditions.” 

 That’s a message CEOs seem to be embracing enthusiastically.  

 IDC’s 2022 Global CEO survey found 95 percent of CEOs are pursuing a digital-first strategy; and that strategy is to thrive in a digital-first world. 

 “With the economic and geo-political outlook remaining unclear, business leaders need to balance how they invest for future growth while managing risk.  

 “One example is deploying tech for the purposes of automation, removing low value manual tasks from processes such as quality control and low-level customer service inquiries.” 

 In something of a surprise for Olvet, in the recent global CEO survey, when asked what word most reflected what their organisation needed to focus on to thrive in 2022, the number one answer was technology. 

 “To me that means the importance of tech has permeated the highest ranks of the enterprise. CEOs care more about technology today than ever before and they are making organisational and strategic decisions that are influenced by technology experts both inside and outside the organisation.” 

 He notes a shift from the early days of digital transformation, when projects were siloed, often at the department level, and were frequently even seen as short term and one-off projects. 

 This 1.0 era of digital was the experimentation phase. Organisations learned from this era and also began focusing on return on investment during the 2.0 era,” he says. 

 Scaling up digital transformation initiatives to more enterprise-wide strategies became the objective of many organisations and has led to a closer eye on business outcomes. 

 “Now after iterations of change, and new digital foundations in place, many leaders are looking beyond transformation and seeking a longer-term focus on running a viable digital business. IDC calls this the digital business era. 

 “This is a change in mindset, strategies and skills of the CEO and the entire C-Suite. The CIO will be a critical leader in orchestrating success in the digital business era.” 

 He notes technologies including cloud computing, SaaS, advanced analytics, AI and machine learning, IoT and other emerging technology related to Web3 and the metaverse as holding the greatest potential for businesses.  

 So what should Kiwi businesses be doing now? 

 Step one is to look at your organisation’s strategy and ensure the digital and business strategies are one and the same, Olvet says. 

 “Second, the CEO and the entire C-suite need to be aligned in terms of that strategy, the organisation structure to execute, the skills they need to develop, and create the roadmap to get from here to their digital business goals.  

 “Business leaders need to look closely at their tech suppliers and service partners. Ask themselves… are they going to help us achieve the business outcomes we are setting for ourselves?  

 “Trusted technology partners will be those who can adapt during volatile times and be able to add value in ways that are unique and additive to the internal capabilities of the organisations. 

 Finally, Olvet says CIOs need to look at their position in the management hierarchy and shape how technology becomes imbedded in the business. 

“Complexity will continue to rise, so the CIO’s role will evolve to become an orchestrator of digital business.” 

 He also urges Kiwi businesses to benchmark themselves not just against local competitors, but global ones too.  

 “Global competitors continue to grow and penetrate new markets and the next market that may be disrupted by a new entrant could be New Zealand. 

 “Think big and look global. It’s unlikely the next Amazon is next door. Scan other markets for innovative products and processes that may be implemented in your own business.” 

 The CIO Summit New Zealand kicks off at Te Pae, Christchurch 28-30 November. You can register here 

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