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CIOs have a unique opportunity to leverage the events of the past 18 months to drive new ways of working positively within their organisations. And indeed Australian CIOs are very bullish about the opportunities that lie ahead, planning to accelerate their digital transformation investments further.
The challenge that they are going to face is how to deliver this transformation in a way that unlocks innovation, but also maintains sustainability, both in terms of business sustainability and environmental concerns.
In a far-ranging interview, Secure Power General Manager – Channels, Alliances & Operations at Schneider Electric, Joseph Vijay, and General Manager of Strategy, Product Solutions Group at Datacom, Peter Stein, highlighted the changing IT investment priorities through the pandemic, and what their businesses had done to prepare for what comes next.
One key takeaway from the experience was that the first stage of enablement – getting people to work from home – was only the start. “When people started working from home, the first challenge was that of being connected, so there was this incredible rush on devices and all the paraphernalia that went along with working from home,” Stein said. From there, Datacom and its partners made valuable use of the time to build new capabilities and deepen their engagement, in preparation of what everyone expects will be a strong rebound.
“Over the space of a year we’ve had over 200 brand new sales certs, and that was one way that we helped drive the engagement of our sales team, keep them connected, and prepare for the future,” Stein said.
The changing vendor/partner ecosystem
Another key trend that CIOs should be aware of is the need for consolidation post-pandemic. The pandemic drove a lot of digital transformation, quickly – as McKinsey has noted, the acceleration has been as much as seven years in just the last year. However, as Vijay noted, that speed of acceleration was not constant, and some sectors went into a kind of hibernation. Now, however, all sectors need to start looking at the rebound, and for many sectors, that still means a lot of transformation, rapidly, in the coming months.
“I think 2020 was a test, as 2021 continues to be too,” Vijay said. “Overall, organisations needed to become very socially conscious. Of course, it is good to be socially conscious, but sometimes without the right technology and without the right platforms, that becomes harder to execute.
“Cloud definitely stood out as a solution, because it was easier and more convenient to have access. Having said that, they had to pull a lot of projects,” Vijay added. Now that we are into 2021 and restrictions are either rolling or being eased, Vijay said, many projects were being looked at again, particularly hybrid cloud solutions that combine with on-premises and edge deployments to ensure maximum efficiency and flexibility.
“Certain types of platforms that need to be on premise need to be closer to the consumer, and hence, edge is relevant, and very important,” Vijay said. “Making it more seamless to connect between these various technologies is going to be the way of the future.
Opportunities looking forward
Thanks to these newly transformed environments, CIOs can also continue to invest in innovation going forward, Stein said. As he noted, what has been accelerated was already happening, and it was not that the pandemic created brought any technologies to the table that enterprise was not already aware of. Consequently, the benefits that enterprises have derived from their technology investments will continue, even as the pandemic disruption abates – their value is independent of their role in assisting with managing through COVID-19.
“I think AI and IoT can stand on their own two feet, it doesn’t need COVID-19,” Stein said. “They’ve been around for a number of years, and they are constantly improving the way we live.
“From a Datacom perspective, for example, we’ve done a fair amount of work with Robotic Process Automation. That RPA conversation allows people to do more meaningful work and take away some of the general paper pushing within the business. Not only is that a savings for the organisation, but it’s also a benefit for the individual as well in the sense that it’s giving them more meaningful work.”
Finally, CIOs have a big opportunity to take strides in proactively tackling the climate and sustainability challenges that the world is now facing, Vijay said. This is going to be a key theme not only because of the increased regulatory and social pressure, but because it also results in innovation and better business.
“Even in a very tough year, we did not lose sight of our commitments,” Vijay said. “There’s an organisation called Corporate Knights, which evaluates how companies are keeping up with their commitments. And in 2021, we were awarded the most sustainable organisation in the world.
“Through our initiatives, we were able to save untold 40,000 tons of raw material just by recycling, and 30 million tons of CO2 emissions.”
There will be disruption into the future, and it will be significant, whether it comes from further health crisis’, climate change, or other impacts. Enterprises now understand better what they need to do to prepare against disruption, and the role that IT plays in this resiliency. The main thing is that CIOs need to continue to press forward with that preparedness and innovation, and not simply allow things to slide back to the way they were. Discover how we can progress towards a sustainable digital transformation in a post-recovery, new electric world.
Watch the full interview to learn more about the leadership and strategic challenges that Datacom, in partnership with Schneider Electric, are helping CIOs overcome here.