Becoming a Digital BusinessBy Michael Vizard | Posted 03-12-2013
Becoming a Digital Business
By Michael Vizard
Accenture is advising clients that they need to become a lot more proactive about IT in the months and years ahead in order to stay ahead of competitors or risk being consigned to the scrap heap of history.
While keeping pace with emerging technologies in the enterprise has always been important, Accenture CTO Paul Daugherty says a convergence of major technology trends is essentially creating a primordial soup of technologies that, once met with the right catalyst, will transform business as we know it.
"Every business is going to become a digital business," says Daugherty. "Organizations today need to start thinking in terms of building architectures capable of addressing the needs of a truly digital business."
According to a new Accenture Technology Vision 2013 report, those trends include:
Create Digital Relationships at Scale
Mobile computing, social networks and context-based services have increased connections with consumers, but many companies have lost customer intimacy in the process. These connections are being viewed as another communication or transactional channel rather than as opportunities to improve customer relationships.
Get the Right Data
Most of today's enterprise software applications are designed for a specific function and capture only the data needed to complete that function. Organizations that use existing data as an input to make strategic decisions often find that information gaps arise because important questions weren't formulated when the applications were being designed. As a result, the relevant data isn't captured. What's needed is a strategy that sees data more as a supply chain than a warehouse. Companies that recognize this and make data a strategic asset that drives business outcomes will possess an advantage over those that view data merely as an output.
Take Advantage of Data Velocity
In addition to data variety and volume, companies now need to consider the third “V” of data: velocity. A surge of new technologies, including high-speed data storage, in-memory computing, analytics advances, data visualization and streaming data querying, is accelerating the entire data cycle from insight to action and improving the enterprise's ability to deal with greater data velocity.
Make Business Processes More Social
Social technologies has profoundly changed the way users communicate with one another. By embedding similar collaborative tools into their business processes, enterprises can take advantage of employees' growing comfort with social networks to gain a new level of productivity.
Use Software-Defined Networking
Software-defined networking, in which the network is managed through software instead of hardware, provides a giant leap forward in enterprise flexibility. Organizations can now reconfigure the connectivity of systems without changing the physical characteristics, making it easier for businesses to manage change, integrate cloud services and get more return from their network investments.
Be Active With Security
Despite recent advances in security technology, safeguarding the digital business remains a challenge. The entry points for an attack are constantly expanding. Optimal IT security needs to go further than prevention. IT's core challenge is to not only stay current with the latest in security, but to get smarter about understanding and engaging the enemy and being able to adapt the enterprise's defenses to match the threat. Security architectures need to remain flexible and incorporate "active" defenses.
The Cloud Is Here
Technologies underpinning cloud computing are pervasive and here to stay. The benefits are numerous: helping companies differentiate their business, get their products and services to market faster, enhance operational efficiency, and respond more quickly to new opportunities and challenges. Many organizations are already embedding cloud computing with their legacy systems and traditional software to create hybrid environments. This requires a clear understanding of, and approach to, the skills, architecture, governance and security required, whether it's the applications, platforms or IT infrastructure that's in the cloud.
Becoming a Digital Business
Given that these technology trends are essentially leading to the creation of digital businesses, Daugherty says Accenture will be advising both business and IT professionals about how seminal 2013 will be from an IT perspective. Daugherty says businesses that fail to harness these emerging technologies risk being usurped by existing rivals or startups that will leverage these trends to create more efficient digital business processes.
"We think these issues are going to need to be addressed by the CEO and the rest of the business in addition to the CIO," says Daugherty. "So this year we're going to put more emphasis on making sure the business understands what's really already starting to occur."