We find out why Digital Transformation is such a buzzword.
Digital Transformation has been a buzzword in the enterprise technology space over the past few years. Let’s hear what Dr Helmut Reisinger, Executive Vice President for International, Orange Business Services, has to share about this topic.
Q: What’s an easy-to-follow explanation for Digital Transformation?
Digital transformation is about enabling organisations to leverage digital technologies to grow their business, to differentiate themselves, and to provide better service to customers. It involves changing the way businesses are run, rethinking go-to-market strategies, skill changes, greater internal collaboration, and enhancing the customer experience.
For those unfamiliar with the concept, there’s the example of e-commerce.
For a traditional brick-and-mortar retailer, digital transformation usually entails setting up an online shop, some form of digital customer service channel such as email or live chat, along with a backend delivery workflow. This opens the retailer’s offering to a whole new customer market and expands their catchment to combat the drop in footfall at the physical store as e-commerce continues to extend its reach.
We believe there will be always a smart combination of human and digital that will ensure long-term business success. In history, economists spoke about land, labour and capital as the production factors.
Clearly, “digital” is a critical differentiating production factor in the 21st century.
With the use of “smart” business models, even small companies can go global fast, and provide new services.
An example is DACOM, a small Dutch company with international operations that provides smart agro-solutions to provide better yield management. Using Orange’s embedded IoT solution, farmers can now have all relevant data on their crops and fields at their fingertips, on their smartphones.
Digital transformation happens at country level, like Singapore’s Smart Nation, Digital India or Australia’s Digital Transformation Office, it happens at City and Community levels, at the company level and also at the individual level — just consider the impact of social media and the Uberization of our travel experiences.
This, of course, is a very simplified version of what digital transformation involves; but it encapsulates the process of businesses digitalising operations, ways of working and developing new services and business models in order to stay competitive in the game.
Q: What are some European examples of successful digital transformation in enterprises or government agencies?
The Parc Olympique Lyonnais (main photo, above), France's first 100% connected stadium, is an example of our ability to support digital transformation. Up to 60,000 spectators enjoy an end-to-end digital experience before, during and after each match, with enhanced connectivity and services, and the mobile app developed by Olympique Lyonnais.
They can use the mobile app to buy tickets and book parking spaces in advance.
On the day of the game, the app will guide them to their parking space and right to their seats in the stadium. Fans have seamless internet access at the stadium with the free, private high-speed Wi-Fi network deployed by Orange.
They can use the mobile app to download all kinds of match-related content (statistics, replays of highlights, interviews, competitions) and access a range of services, including securely ordering and paying for food, drinks and merchandise right from their seats.
During the match, they can share their experience with other spectators in real time by posting pictures or commenting on the match on social media, join communities or forums dedicated to the event and interact with other fans or participate in surveys.
In short, fans can now experience matches in conditions that are far better than just watching the broadcast on TV.
Another example: The European Space Agency (ESA), an intergovernmental organisation dedicated to the exploration of space, chose us to deploy and manage its private cloud.
This esacloud solution is playing a key role in its digital transformation.
ESA operates from eight sites across Europe with 2,200 staff working in a wide range of roles including scientific, engineering, operations, industrial and administrative. Inevitably, space exploration requires a massive supply of computing resources.
Through esacloud, we created a common, secure and rapidly provisioned computing infrastructure for the entire organisation. It delivers efficiency and flexible gains by providing computing resources at lower cost and improved productivity. End-users are able to provision the computing resources they need in a matter of minutes.
Business continuity is ensured by delivering esacloud via two mirrored data centers to offer complete redundancy for applications and services. The private cloud solution provides high levels of security by enforcing rigorous role-based access control and security design, customised to the specific requirements of the various ESA user communities.
So ESA scientists can now concentrate on doing rocket science rather than IT!
Q: What’s your prognosis for digital transformation in Asia?
Digital transformation in Asia has great potential, but its complex and fragmented economic and infrastructural landscape poses significant challenges.
Leaders of the pack such as Japan, South Korea, Australia, and Singapore will achieve digital transformation much sooner than their developing neighbours, giving rise to a marked digital divide within APAC. There needs to be increased and concerted inter-governmental efforts to share best practices on digital transformation to level the playing field.
As observed, the public sector has been lagging behind in cloud adoption and consequently, digital transformation as a whole. Within countries, governments can do more to work with industry leaders to spearhead national initiatives in driving digital transformation and technological innovation such as offering research grants and strategic policy making.
Emerging economies stand to gain the most out of Asia’s push for digital transformation. With little existing infrastructure in place to overhaul, they can hop right onto the digital bandwagon and catch up with the rest of the region.
Q: How does digital transformation fit into Singapore’s Smart Nation drive?
I think the Singapore government has great foresight! Before Smart Nation, there was the Intelligent Nation 2015 (iN2015) masterplan, launched in 2006. It was very forward-looking, and its strategies and objectives were very conducive and largely aligned with those of digital transformation.
It demonstrates the Singapore government’s commitment to bringing the nation’s economy and society to the next level through policy-making and funding technological innovation, strategic partnerships with the private sector, as well as public engagement efforts.
Government participation certainly helped accelerate research into IoT in strategic directions.
A key focus is its use in mitigating the challenges that come with Singapore’s ageing society. With longer life expectancies and rising healthcare costs, the IoT@Home initiative encourages ageing in place allowing the elderly to maintain their quality of life and reduce overall reliance on hospice care.
We have worked with a client in the healthcare industry to implement a solution that allowed homecare providers to securely access patient data to sleep apnea patients and improve patient care.
The solution’s reports served to enable patients to receive treatment reimbursement from the government or their insurers. The reports also demonstrated accountability towards the use of public funds in reimbursing patients.
Additionally, IoT will enable Singapore to collect data on healthcare, transport, climate, and the physical environment.
With IoT sensors at work, and backend cloud systems in place, Big Data analysis could point the way forward for ministries and other government bodies. For example, public buses could be equipped with a digital solution that would alert operators on potential glitches so that preventive servicing can be carried out before traffic incidents can occur.
Digital transformation thus holds limitless possibilities for governments to improve on the delivery of public services.
Along with the implementation of IoT, governments can expect to obtain invaluable data with which to make public spending decisions in order to mitigate potential problems, or to elevate the quality of life for citizens.
However, to reach that stage, governments need to put the necessary factors in place. As mentioned, tools such as policy-making, funding technological innovation, partnering the private sector, engaging the public, will go a long way to drive digital transformation.
We believe Asia can take more than just one leaf out of Singapore’s Smart Nation plan to embark on their digital transformation journey.
The views expressed by Dr Helmut Reisinger are solely his own, and do not reflect any official position of IDA.
1. Teaser image: Creative Commons Digital Transformation Bottom Lines by gleonhard licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
2. Main photo: Creative Commons Parc Olympique Lyonnais(Le Stade Des Lumières)by AsGunReview licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
3. Photo of Dr Helmut Resinger courtesy of Orange Business Services
4. Creative Commons ESOC Control Room by ESA-Jürgen Mai licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO.
5. Public domain photo of Singapore Skyline by Merlion444.
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