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HCL Global Digital Execution Report

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Digital Transformation: Perspectives from the Frontline

Digital Transformation: Perspectives from the Frontline
Anand Birje - Corporate Vice President & Head- Digital & Analytics Practice | July 13, 2017

Insights from HCL Tech’s Customer Experience Survey

Much like any other broad-based “revolution” that impacts large sections of the global economy and touches every business – big or small – the Digital revolution that started a few years back, is generating excitement and confusion in equal parts.

Most business and I.T. leaders will convincingly elaborate on the benefits of Digital technology, and confirm their commitment to a digitalized future. But in many cases these same leaders are confronted with real life challenges relating to organizational alignment, the burden of legacy technology and processes, and budgets.

At the Digital & Analytics practice in HCL Technologies, we wanted to find out if CXOs are able to sustain momentum on their digital journey, and where the real challenges are. There are of course many reports that hint at the allocation of “healthy percentages” of money and effort to Digital initiatives, we wanted to measure the pulse of the market, in a unique way. We deployed an iPad and paper-based survey at multiple industry gatherings and events such as the Adobe Summit, MuleSoft Connect, and others – and collected responses to carefully crafted questions from an audience representing a rich cross-section of the industry.

An analysis of this multi-part survey throws up interesting insights on digital transformation journeys across industries - key drivers, challenges, expectations and opportunities. Here are some insights that stand out for me.

When asked about the top drivers for investing in Digital transformation, more than a third of our respondents chose “higher customer expectations” as their number one driver; while about a quarter of them chose “cost pressures” as the secondary imperative. It is interesting for me that one in four respondents are investing in Digital technology to reduce cost of operations. But this is not surprising or counter-intuitive at all! In fact, this is why a key focus of our Digital Consulting practice is transformation of traditional Business Processes through the digital lens. With innovative digital technology employed at key process points, effort streamlining and cost efficiencies are gained very quickly, besides better coordination, collaboration and increased automation.

Therefore your next logical question will be, do we spend more to drive cost efficiency and experience? In our many engagements where we have deployed modern application operations with Agile, Low-code and DevOps at the core, we can confirm that Digital applications are not necessarily more expensive to maintain than traditional applications. In fact, in many cases it is the opposite. For business and IT leaders looking at Digital as a “spend element” only, this provides another perspective, one where Digital technology can lead to a leaner enterprise.

Enterprise-Level Drivers for Digital Transformation

Digital Transformation

Source: HCL Technologies Customer Experience Survey, 2017

What else strikes as an important insight here? One in five respondents named “simplifying the complex technological landscape” as a key driver. 20% of respondents are trying to simplify their complex technological landscape through the application of digital technology. This is aligned to what we have noticed in our long-term customer relationships, and leads us to believe that Digital is not a ready-to-deploy vision or an overnight revolution.It is an approach that has evolved over time by accelerating the inclusion of the larger organization beyond IT, due to development of key digital technologies. 

Many large organizations that now have integrated systems have grown on the back of a patchwork of applications and I.T. systems, many of which served a pressing need from the time they were commissioned – and some acquired as a result of a merger or acquisition. These applications then stayed on, integrating with other applications and systems and resulting in a complex and expensive heterogeneous Enterprise I.T. landscape. Forward-looking businesses soon realized that this is not sustainable, nor scalable.

This is where digital technology has provided them with a “way out” – giving them new tools to reimagine their businesses and customer experiences from the ground up. This is the fundamental digital transformation that HCL is excited to be a key part of, for many of our customers.

I will talk about one more insight from the survey that I found interesting. When asked about “the biggest roadblocks on the journey to Customer Experience Transformation” – 25% respondents cited “lack of funding” as the number one challenge. I interpret this not as a waning of the influence of Digital, but a sign of maturity in the market. Business leaders are taking a longer, harder look at resources spent on Digital technologies and applying much-required discretion to ensure that the spend is aligned to the larger business vision.

We are applying this insight in HCL Technologies and focussing on the “real world impact” of Digital on our customers’ businesses, however our belief is that this can only be achieved by integrating Consulting, Modern Application Development and Data Analytics together to offer a uniquely powerful service offering that will make digital real. 

The time for experimentation and point projects is over. The era of real holistic digital impact is here. Stay tuned for many more insights from our upcoming HCL Digital Transformation Survey. 

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