Digitisation: It’s not just about technology, people!

  • Technology just a single element, strategy and framework play a role too
  • Broader business transformation needs to be a boardroom agenda
Digitisation: It’s not just about technology, people!

THE digitisation buzzword – or the ‘digital transformation’ buzzphrase – is everywhere, being used for everything from updating your operating system to allowing mobility solutions into the workplace.
But companies focusing solely on the technology element of digitisation are missing the forest for the trees, argues Cisco Systems Inc’s Asean president Saleh M. Munshi (pic above), speaking to Digital News Asia (DNA) in Singapore recently.
“Technology is only one element, the more difficult elements are around defining the strategy, making sure you can build the right leadership framework, and how to get the culture aligned and people on board.
“The technology piece is the easiest part of digitisation,” he quips.
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Digitisation is about delivering a better experience for your customers, employees and partners, Saleh argues.
And even Cisco – for so long known as a network gearmaker – is not immune to such trends, and has been trying to shed its image as a mere hardware player.
“We have substantially changed our business … and have acquired about 180 companies in the last 20 years,” says Saleh.
“These companies are focused on many different areas, many of them software- or services-oriented, and we have as a company evolved substantially,” he claims.
Cisco’s own evolution and internal digitisation efforts now stand it in good stead when approaching clients, he also argues.
“You’ll be surprised to see that our HR (human resources) teams talk to our customers’ HR teams about how to transform.
“As a company that has gone through this transformation, we are able to articulate how you can impart [digital] skills and capabilities,” he adds.
Needs to be board-level agenda

Digitisation: It’s not just about technology, people!

According to a 2015 study by the Global Centre for Digital Business Transformation, 45% of companies did not see digital disruption as worthy of the attention of their boards yet; and 43% did not acknowledge or address the risk sufficiently.
“In fact, only 25% said they are on board with digitisation – people are talking about it, but at the senior business level, there is still some more work to be done,” says Saleh.
“Everybody’s worried and concerned about it, but it hasn’t made it to the board level yet, at least for 45% of those companies – cybersecurity has made it, but not digitisation,” he adds.
But the reality on the ground is a bit different, he argues. “Every time I sit down with business executives, they are extremely keen – there is not a single conversation that doesn’t end up about digitisation and warding off disruption.”
And many already recognise that it is not strictly a technology issue, but involves people.
“The No 1 thing is, ‘How do I drive transformation through my team?’ – and that is usually the No 1 challenge,” says Saleh.
“It’s about skills development, about on-boarding the people they need, about changing mindsets,” he adds.
Defining strategy “clearly and consistently in the competitive environment” comes in at No 2, and finally, there is finding the right solutions and partners for the digitisation journey, according to Saleh.
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