Most executives will agree that while there is no formula for success, digital empowerment is the only way forward to stay relevant, even more so at a time when technology and customers’ expectations are advancing like shifting sand beneath our feet. Evyn Valayen, our Innovation Manager, certainly seems to think so.
What exactly is Digital Transformation?
Digital Transformation (“DT”) is the buzz phrase of the moment, thrown around loosely to mean innovation. You must be wondering: if companies have been digitizing for decades, why is it only now that the term is descending upon us like a rolling storm? The impression we get is that transformation is the end goal of a business, when in reality it is otherwise.
Many companies still fear that handing over important data to cloud service providers will jeopardize their security.
It is important that we correctly define DT. Simply put, it is the ability to understand how technology can deliver value to customers. It isn’t purely about the tools themselves, but how to leverage the capabilities of these tools to take advantage of new opportunities.
How important is it for companies to keep up with the curve?
DT is an ongoing process, a journey. One that never ends. Stop that journey, and you’re in trouble. Technologically speaking, if your business is standing still, you are actually lagging behind.
What are the biggest IT trends shaping businesses these days?
Personally, I am amazed at the speed at which technology is advancing. Blink, and you could miss it.
The trends to watch out for in 2017 are not radically different than those in 2016. This year, businesses are just getting more acclimated to them. My list is by no means exhaustive, but the ones that spring to mind are the Internet of Everything (the connectedness between People, Processes, Data and Things), Blockchain (a game changer that will provide transparent access to all information in the chain), Artificial Intelligence (machines carrying out tasks that usually require human intelligence), chatbots, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality…
Businesses and employees are becoming empowered with technology, paving the way for what we call an Intelligent Enterprise – which is mainly enabled by Artificial Intelligence. Picture this: each day, companies are flooded with large volumes of data – structured and unstructured, – from various sources, in different formats… This data has a limited “shelf life”, meaning it loses value over time if you leave it sitting for too long. Artificial Intelligence automates the analysis of this data and translates it into actionable insights, and automated key processes enable companies to function more efficiently. It will be particularly beneficial for industries that have huge back offices, like insurance companies or banks.
Digital Transformation is an ongoing process, a journey. One that never ends.
Is DT synonymous to moving to the cloud?
Yes and no. The cloud isn’t the only enabler to DT – a company can digitally transform itself without necessarily moving to the cloud. That being said, in my opinion, moving to the cloud is the first step to unlocking DT. But many companies still face a roadblock and fear that handing over important data to cloud service providers will jeopardize their security – and back they go to on-premises data storage.
Ironically, having a cloud IT infrastructure does just the opposite – it keeps your data more secure. Here’s why:
- It is no secret that traditional hardware is extremely high-maintenance, with hours on end going into supporting systems. Adopting the cloud replaces all those labour-intensive tasks with full automation; more energy can be focused toward other critical aspects of the organization, such as Innovation.
- It offers the unprecedented opportunity to ensure business continuity. Natural disasters or power failures strike with little to no warning, hitting a business where it hurts: data loss and downtime. For large companies, an hour of downtime can cost up to $1.1 million. Having your data backed up in the cloud ensures that you minimise downtime and that you access your data quickly. You can continue business as usual in no time.
- High levels of security are the top priority for cloud technologies. This includes security tools and controls like advanced encryption, automatic backup, identity and access management controls. Beyond the usual security audits, cloud businesses also face tougher standards; they must adhere to strict Higher International Organization for Standardization standards
Speaking of security, where does Mauritius stand on the cybersecurity front?
I am pleased at the level of commitment that Mauritius is showing to Cybersecurity. Our rankings are pretty impressive: we are placed 6th globally on the Global Cybersecurity Index, and we have secured the top spot in Africa. There have already been over 180 awareness sessions for 2,000 in several state departments. Continuing to improve our regulatory framework and train our people can only have a positive impact on our bottom line.