Digital transformation not about ROI: Cisco exec

  • It is about making your company relevant in the future
  • Security can be used as an advantage, not just a cost
Digital transformation not about ROI: Cisco exec

DIGITAL transformation may not always translate into a return on investment (ROI), but it is a key ingredient for companies simply to survive, said a top Cisco Systems Inc executive.
“Going digital is about making your company relevant in the future,” Cisco chief security and trust officer John Stewart said at the Cisco Live convention (pic above) in Melbourne on March 9.
He said that understanding the importance of digitalisation is only one part of the equation, with the other being understanding how fast this transformation is happening today.
Citing US-based Weight Watchers International as an example, Stewart said that the company was significantly affected as it did not see digitalisation as affecting its business.
“It lost about 95% of its value because it did not see Fitbit coming,” said Stewart, referring to wearable tech company specialising in fitness trackers.
“It didn’t see digitalisation changing the healthcare and physical fitness industry, and its entire business model got disrupted so much that it has yet to recover,” he added.
Stewart advised participants at Cisco Live that if they wanted to change the way their companies produced value in two years’ time, they would have to start thinking about what they would need to do today.
“The re-innovation that is happening globally is causing businesses to re-invent themselves every two years ... we have to re-invent ourselves, we have a role to play to drive innovation,” he added.
Security as innovation-driver
Digital transformation not about ROI: Cisco execIn most cases, digital transformation would entail an increasing number of devices being connected to the corporate network. This would also translate to an increasing amount of data being at stake.
“Everything that can be connected, will be connected and generating data – and these data need to communicate in a secure manner,” said Stewart (pic).
He argued that security, instead of being perceived as a cost factor, can be played up as a competitive advantage.
According to Cisco research, 71% of companies globally said that cyber-risks are slowing them down by as much as 20%, Stewart said.
He said a company’s security system can be seen as being analogous to a car’s brakes.
“If we make great brakes, then we can go faster because we know the brakes are going to work. In much the same way, we can use security as an advantage instead of just a cost,” he declared.
User experience matters
Meanwhile, a Cisco customer agreed that digital transformation does not always translates into ROI.
“We are actually extremely fortunate that our vice chancellor has a high appetite for digital transformation, since it doesn’t always stack up in a hard financial ROI equation,” Deakin University director of channels and platforms Lynn Warneke told a media conference at Cisco Live.
“For us, it is about providing our target audience with a good user experience,” she added.
According to Warneke, Deakin University has been working closely with Cisco as part of its smart campus initiative. It has implemented a Smart Library project aimed at improving students’ overall experience in a library.
Goh Thean Eu reports from Cisco Live in Melbourne at the invitation of Cisco Systems. All editorials are independent.
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Only 5% of Fortune 1000 companies have successfully gone ‘digital’
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