With the recent disruption, many enterprises are taking the opportunity to reimagine what makes them different – even questioning their mandate to exist in the future.
With a new year ahead of us, what does the big picture facing COOs look like?
Organizations are currently building on the transformation momentum picked up during lockdown and reinforcing the resilience that has kept them in business. This is a massive opportunity and, simultaneously, a considerable risk. Get it right, and the rewards will be huge – a step change in productivity, a refreshed organizational culture, new relationships with new customers. These are gains worth fighting for. Get it wrong, and risk being left behind by competitors and increasing irrelevance in the market. The stakes are high.
The opportunity where the physical meets the digital
The COO has a pivotal role to play here. Her or his position is not just about equipping the organization for today but anticipating tomorrow’s needs too.
How to reimagine supply chains to ensure the same bottlenecks can’t happen again?
How to overcome the complexity that throttled some of the immediate responses needed to the crisis?
How to respond to future disruption and mitigate uncertainty?
Although the task sounds daunting, opportunities for COOs are unparalleled. From back-end to front-end, so many physical processes now have digital foundations. And the crisis has widened the field of possibilities by accelerating the adoption of cloud services. COOs are in a strong position to demand that all these possibilities now coalesce into something more significant than the sum of its parts.
To make that happen at the required pace, COOs, CIOs, CTOs and IT teams must work as one, with a unified vision for reimagined operations: a technology strategy underpinning your business model.
That collaboration was happening already, of course, before COVID-19 changed the landscape. Measured in March 2020, 19% of businesses were partnering with the operations function to redesign transformation. The surprise is that the other 81% weren’t.
The need to do more with less never goes away
Let’s picture how more resilient operations could look. There would be shorter, more agile value chains and faster product development. We will see hands-off (and more efficient) monitoring through analytics, AI and the IoT. More engaged employees will create better customer experiences across channels. A more sustainable way of doing business will also be a high priority.
Whether the global economic background for these changes will be recessionary or not is hard to predict. That almost doesn’t matter, as the old challenge of doing more with less will always be at the fore.
The changes you have probably already made will serve you well – with remote working being the obvious example. The OECD recently published a review of the complex interconnection between remote working and productivity. Elsewhere, others have noted specific benefits. For example, 60% of businesses say their new remote sales models are proving as or even more effective than traditional channels.
But what else beyond remote working? Can you analyze performance in real-time? And understand which demands on your supply chain or services need an immediate response? Can you reduce manual tasks so your people can focus on more valuable work? Consultants McKinsey & Co recently put the productivity gains possible from a ‘Corona reset’ in one sector alone – healthcare – at an additional $400 billion in value by 2025. Staying agile like this is bound to become a commercial imperative.
Data is at the heart of every digital transformation
This just leaves the deceptively simple question, how? As with any crisis, we’re left with a new reality. This means we need to reassess how we use data and digital technology. We’ll need to create new data sets and explore and validate modeling techniques – at pace. We’ll need to interrogate if we’re using the cloud, our apps, AI (and more) as smartly as possible. The companies that get this right will get ahead.
Data is at the heart of every digital transformation. Organizations must monetize their oceans of data to innovate and generate new business and revenue opportunities.
However, without a systematic framework, the data is little more than a morass of unconnected information. The challenge is to make sense of it: value cannot be leveraged without first streamlining and integrating data across the organization and its entire value chain. A flexible, agile and efficient foundation is essential for data science and AI to work their magic.
Getting there involves a data-driven transformation journey, which Fujitsu advocates comprising four main layers or critical focus areas, culminating in business value. Each layer is crucial to transformation’s success: it is impossible to leapfrog the preliminaries and still hope for a great outcome. The business value is a direct result of proper choices and the application of data science and AI. In turn, these choices are contingent on getting the strategy and architecture right.
Fujitsu works with customers to build data-driven transformation
In our experience, most organizations will initially struggle, despite being aware that information assets hold an intrinsic value just waiting to be unlocked. The task can look impenetrable: identifying connections, figuring out how to manage information across all locations (on-premises, in the cloud or, more likely, both), protecting valuable data against loss and by taking appropriate cybersecurity measures, and applying AI and data science to derive insights for the business.
This was the case at Fujitsu’s customer Akademiska Hus. As one of Sweden’s largest property companies, Akademiska Hus wanted to digitize every aspect of its IT estate, toward the goal of becoming more efficient and flexible, and to migrate to a private cloud environment that could be easily extended to a hybrid cloud. It also needed to deliver scalability and real-time information services.
Fujitsu built a plug-and-play PRIMEFLEX for VMware Cloud Foundation solution, which now supports 450 users in 16 locations using VDI. The solution has halved costs while doubling efficiency and performance. For example, Akademiska Hus reduced energy consumption, saving SEK400.000 (approx. €40.000) in one year alone. The solution also enables mobility, with a fully-featured VDI accessible from a smartphone.
New VDIs are provisioned at the touch of a button, enabling scale-out on demand, and resources can be managed from any location via a single console.
This is the sort of transformation attainable by COOs taking on the mantle of reimagining everyday operations. Given the scale and speed of change last year, a lot now needs to happen in terms of integration, security and orchestration. The focus on data is – in our view – what truly creates the potential for genuine transformation, as the Akademiska Hus example shows.
If this is the sort of change your organization needs and you are ready to drive that change, then visit our data-driven transformation web pages to get started.