Business leaders admit they’re not ready for ‘Digital Future’

  • Agree on five ‘make-or-break’ business attributes
  • Admit to limits on current ability to make use of data
Business leaders admit they’re not ready for ‘Digital Future’

NEARLY all (or 96%) of business leaders in a new global study believe that new technologies have forever changed the rules of business, democratising information and rewiring customer expectations, but most also admitted their organisations do not embody the attributes necessary to survive in this climate.
The study, The Information Generation: Transforming The Future, Today, was conducted by the Institute for the Future and Vanson Bourne on behalf of EMC Corp.
It explores the impact of a growing global community of digital citizens, EMC said in a statement.
These individuals are always connected and engaged online, and have the world’s information at their fingertips. They also view the world very differently.
Based on input from 3,600 director-to-C-suite business leaders across 18 countries, the study reveals new expectations of these individuals and identifies the fundamental business attributes critical for organisations to successfully compete and thrive in this new landscape.
Not surprisingly, 96% of business leaders surveyed believe new technologies have forever changed the rules of business. In addition, 93% reported that recent technology advancements are resetting customer expectations, and nearly all say this will accelerate over the next decade.
The top reported customer expectations are faster access to services, 24/7 and ‘everywhere’ access and connectivity, access on more devices, and a more unique personalised experience, EMC said.
Due to new Information Generation-driven demands, businesses agree that transformation is critical.
To be a disruptor – and not disrupted – business leaders have identified five ‘make-or-break’ business attributes, all of which have information at their core:

  • Predictively spot new opportunities in markets;
  • Demonstrate transparency and trust;
  • Innovate in agile ways;
  • Deliver unique and personalised experiences; and
  • Operate in real time.

While business leaders agree these attributes are high priority, they admitted that very few have thoroughly embodied them.
Business leaders admit they’re not ready for ‘Digital Future’Specifically, when asked whether they address these attributes both very well and company-wide, only 12% said they can predictively spot new opportunities, 9% innovate in agile ways, 14% demonstrate transparency and trust, 11% deliver personalised experience, and 12% operate in real-time, EMC said.
In addition, by 2020 more than seven billion people on at least 30 billion devices will have created 44 zettabytes of data (or 44 trillion gigabytes), according to Gartner and IDC respectively.
This is rapidly leading to a world in which nearly every element of life will be data-driven. While businesses know they can get value from this data, 49% admit to not knowing how to turn all of their data into actionable information (click infographic to enlarge and access in full):

  • Even though 70% say they can gain insights from data, only 30% are always on and able to act upon their information in real time, and are unable to achieve this very well and company-wide;
  • 52% admit they do not use their data effectively or are drowning in information overload; and
  • Only 24% consider themselves ‘very good’ at turning data into useful insights and information

“In an increasingly connected, real-time world, consumers are demanding more from the organisations they interact with. Businesses need to be ‘always-on’ if their consumers are,” said EMC Malaysia managing director Cheam Tat Inn.
“In Malaysia specifically, the smart device phenomenon is no longer new. Broadband penetration and the adoption of these devices show no signs of slowing down. Moreover, according to reports by International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Malaysia has the fourth largest proportion of Digital Natives in its population.
“These Digital Natives will be tomorrow’s consumers, employees, and leaders. The impact of technology megatrends is only going to increase every year. Businesses and ‘digital natives’ born of the cloud are already driving this new way of living.
“For mature businesses that are now redefining themselves for this new world, transformation needs be focused, purposeful and company-wide,” he added.
While companies brace and prepare to meet evolving customer expectations, the world is evolving at an equally rapid pace.
The Institute For The Future has forecasted ‘major macro shifts’ in how technology will continue transforming the world by 2024.
There are strong signals of a move toward a world in which nearly every element of life will be data-driven. Individuals and corporations will sell, donate and trade information on open exchanges.
Inanimate objects will spring to life all around us, becoming more aware, responsive and connected, EMC said, citing the study.
Decision-making will be enhanced by artificial intelligence in ways never seen before. Information will be communicated and absorbed through multiple human senses.

Customers will be able to better control their own privacy through new tools. In this new world order, value will shift from products and services to the information they generate.
“Our mission is to provide practical foresight for a world undergoing rapid change – and to help turn insights into action,” said Rachel Maguire, research director at the Institute for the Future.
“It’s critical that we systematically explore the longer-term implications of an age in which information is at the centre of everything we do, continually re-conditioning us in ways we still have yet to imagine.
“The world’s most information-savvy organisations – if they ready themselves – will lead one of the most significant transformations in history,” she added.
For more information, visit the Information Generation microsite.
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Seven facts about data-driven cultures in APAC
The accidental analyst
Technology disruptions at work in Asean
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