Stefano Maifreni, founder of Eggcelerate
You can tell the business world’s direction by the new roles that start to pop up in the C-Suite. With titles like chief transformation officer, chief change officer, and digital transformation officer, it’s clear what’s on a business leader’s mind these days. Each of these roles is a response to rapidly changing market and customer trends and an avalanche of technological advances that are causing businesses to rethink the way they operate.
In this article, however, we’re going to take a closer look at the Digital Transformation Officer (DTO). This professional is specifically focused on an organisation’s digital strategy and transformation.
Not every company needs to hire someone for this position, however. Sometimes it’s better to get every senior officer involved and lead the company’s digital transformation as a team.
To help you decide whether to bring in a DTO, we’ll offer some points to consider below.
What is a DTO, and What Do They Do?
Today, an organisation’s success and long-term sustainability heavily depend on its digital infrastructure combined with a data-driven culture. Smart, automated IT systems enable critical modern business capabilities such as personalisation, adaptability, and innovation. A data-driven culture then leverages the business and market data captured and analysed by these systems to guide business decision making at all levels of the organisation.
Even technology-based businesses, such as fintech companies and SaaS providers, don’t always have the most effective and efficient digital infrastructure in place. Moreover, establishing a well-oiled data-driven culture takes much time, research, and consideration.
It is where a DTO comes in. A DTO is a member of a company’s senior management team. They are responsible for leading a business’s digital transformation in response to the emergence of new critical technologies, significant shifts in the market, or the development of new business products or services, among other events. These professionals work closely with the CEO and the C-suite, but at the same time, they must also collaborate with employees at virtually every level of the company.
Having a strong, focused senior leader at the helm of such an undertaking is thus critical to its success.
Three Necessary Qualities to Look for in a DTO
If you decide to hire a DTO, the person you choose for the role must possess several essential qualities to steer your company through a successful digital transformation. These qualities are in addition to technical expertise and general industry knowledge:
They can see the big picture.
A DTO must take in the whole picture of your company and determine the critical areas where people, data, and infrastructure interact. They can then leverage that knowledge to implement digital initiatives for every significant business process’s strategic innovation and business transformation.
They must be able to consider the customer’s experience and needs as the agent and driver for change, on the one hand, while understanding the unique needs and culture of your business on the other. It includes understanding how people and departments interact and how third-party vendors and service providers fit into the system. The goal is to balance the company-wide need for change and adaptation with consideration for employee needs for consistency, stability, and clarity.
They possess good communication and collaboration skills.
While the role requires a wide range of soft skills, abilities in communication and collaboration are at the top of the list. A DTO must speak to a broad spectrum of people at every level of the company. It is crucial not only for gathering information and feedback but for encouraging employee buy-in in response to change. It (almost) goes without saying that a big part of communication is not just speaking to others but listening to what is being said or reported honestly.
They are humble and able to learn from others.
This role involves gathering a lot of input from employees at the lowest ranks of a company, particularly those directly involved with customers, such as sales and customer service representatives. At the same time, DTOs must report to the CEO and collaborate with other C-Suite executives. To do this properly, a good DTO must be open and willing to learn from others, consider different ideas and opinions, and be ready to course-correct when an initiative goes off track.
Not Every Company Needs a DTO
While many companies may want to pass the responsibilities of a DTO on to a specific individual, so they are free to focus on other areas of the business, it may not be the best decision. Here are a few reasons why:
- Unlike traditional C-Suite roles, the DTO is transient by design. It means that companies usually employ a DTO to get a digital transformation off the ground. Once the change is fully integrated into the company’s operations, the DTO is no longer needed. With the proper infrastructure and data-driven culture in place, digital transformation and innovation self-perpetuates.
- Another issue is that companies typically hire an outsider to fill the role of DTO. While this may give the company access to a fresh perspective, an outsider working in a transitory position may not be willing or able to reach the level of understanding– whether of the company or the market it serves– needed to make the most effective decisions.
- Because digital infrastructure and adaptability are key business competencies, direct involvement in the digital transformation process helps senior leaders improve their strategic decisions overall.
While companies that rely on analogue processes may benefit from a dedicated DTO, in many cases, appointing a DTO is not in the best interest of an already digitally aligned company. It may be much more effective to create a company-wide commitment with a team of senior leaders responsible for the digital transformation, rather than passing the details and management of the transition off to one individual.
Cloud technology in banking: Why adoption is on the rise
Alpesh Tailor, Executive Director at digital transformation specialist GFT
The banking sector has never shied away from innovation, whether it is new products to improve customer savings habits or new ways of interacting with people and business, but embracing new technologies such as cloud has, until recently, been relatively slow. However, leading global financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank have accelerated their adoption of cloud, which can provide insights for efficient technology transformation across the sector.
We conducted research to measure 21 medium-size and large banks’ sentiment and operations regarding cloud technology. Examining the relationship between cloud technology and banking professionals, our research provides an insight into the overall finance sector’s perception of cloud technology and how its application can improve banking procedures and efficiency.
A significant trend showed that the way people use their finances and banking systems has changed, particularly when it comes to payments and transfers. Our research revealed that 86% of bankers have adopted cloud services to harness its virtually unlimited scalability, citing a definitive change in transaction behaviour as the main reason for moving to the cloud.
In the world of retail banking, buy-now-pay-later, open banking, and contactless payment systems have revolutionised the way people use their bank, making financial management easier and more efficient. However, despite these evolutions, high street banks are playing catch-up to the challenger banks who possess fewer legacy processes and, therefore, an easier migration to new technologies, such as the full utilisation of cloud and artificial intelligence.
The cloud provides a dependable, scalable, and flexible data system that allows traditional banks to modernise quickly and stay abreast of the innovations that ‘born-in-the-cloud’ challenger banks are bringing to the market. An increasingly popular way of doing this is by adopting a hybrid and multicloud approach.
Most organisations are considering diversifying their cloud technology, with 76% of bankers now agreeing with the importance of implementing multicloud systems in order to benefit from resilience and security improvements made by the main cloud providers. These cloud ‘hyperscalers’ also provide regular updates and continue to release exclusive new services and platforms as they continue to innovate.
Our research indicates that cost optimisation is a primary reason that banks are looking toward the cloud for their future storage needs, with 81% of bankers confirming they have adopted cloud technology to save costs.
Installing and maintaining on-premise IT systems is lengthy and costly for financial institutions. When using the cloud, however, purchasing and installing hardware is no longer required as the cloud service provider hosts all the required infrastructure. The management of the hardware is included within this, reducing the overall cost of IT support further.
Technological innovations are usually heralded for their ability to streamline operations, making them quicker and more secure. Our research illustrates that 62% of bankers believe organisational culture and inertia to be a key challenge within the sector. Besides being flexible for scalability and cost, adopting cloud technology can bolster organisational efficiency, since banks can spend fewer resources managing the relationship between trading volumes and payment infrastructure. Bankers acknowledge this opportunity, with 95% of organisations understanding that cloud technology can reduce time-to-market.
Overcoming misconceptions with cloud technology
Misconceptions usually exist around any emerging technology and our research found that this theme continues with cloud technology.
43% of the bankers we spoke to admitted that security concerns have impeded full cloud migration – a concern that has frequently been confirmed when speaking to financial services institutions. However, cloud providers invest heavily in the security of their cloud infrastructure which, as a result, makes it almost always safer than its on-premise, client-owned counterpart.
One aspect of adopting the cloud that continues to cause concern, is that which is commonly termed the ‘digital skills gap’. More than half of banks claim a lack of cloud-savvy employees internally has slowed down adoption. At GFT, we understand that this is a major issue for the adoption of cloud technology in all sectors, including banking, and have committed to training and encouraging young people to learn the required skills and enter the sector. We recently launched our Manchester Innovation Hub – a dedicated location to support the upskilling and growth of tech roles in the north.
Going forwards, cloud technology is the primary option for banks seeking to evolve and scale their business, whilst minimising risk, time and cost. Bankers recognise these benefits and the overall findings of our research suggest they will continue to grow their investment in cloud technology. Whilst evolving traditional legacy systems is very challenging, cloud technology continues to advance and we believe that over time it will become a powerful mainstay within the financial services industry.
A Smarter World: What role will electronics play in 2022
There has been a sharp increase in technology and devices designed to make our lives simpler, faster and more productive in recent years.
Industry 4.0 is taking the digital revolution of the late 1900s one step further, combining cyber-physical systems with the power of the internet of things (IoT) to automate computerised decision-making and enhance efficiency. As a result, intelligent technology has surpassed the simple tools and gadgets people enjoy using every day; it has become a driving force for innovation and problem-solving for businesses worldwide.
The first generation of ‘smart’ technology products provided enhanced connectivity, allowing people to stream video on smart televisions or communicate wirelessly between devices. But with the development of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), our devices do more than simply talk to each other; they collect and interpret data to inform user experience and automate processes that would typically require human guidance.
From watches to phones, building controls to medical equipment, we are heading towards a ‘smarter’ world at lightning speed. So, in 2022 and beyond, technology will continue to evolve and improve its capabilities to deliver personalised, mechanised solutions that will optimise functions and enhance our day-to-day lives.
How will smart tech change our way of life?
The pandemic has significantly impacted global technology trends, with lockdowns contributing to heightened activity within the consumer electronics industry.
The demand for games consoles, smart televisions and other entertainment devices led to an 18% increase in the global consumer electronics market (excluding North America) in the first half of 2021, reflecting pandemic-related behavioural changes and consumers’ growing expectations for premium electronics. Following the outbreak of COVID-19, the public is also more conscious of their health and the limitations of our health services than ever before. Wearable technology such as smartwatches — which can remotely monitor and record physical health data — is, thus, becoming increasingly appealing.
As more and more businesses embrace remote working models, employees are enhancing their homes with innovative home technology, too. Demand for devices such as mobile stereo headsets and headphones spiked in the wake of lockdowns. Organisations are also embarking on digital transformation to secure online networks and optimise energy efficiency in modern offices.
The future of the electric vehicle market also looks bright. With governments facing global pressure to reduce carbon emissions, major automotive manufactures like Bentley, Volkswagen and Audi have pledged to cut fossil fuel cars from their product portfolios by 2030. And despite the pandemic-related semiconductor shortage that crippled the automotive industry, UK electric vehicle sales jumped 186% in 2020.
How will the electronics industry meet demands?
In a digital world, technology is embedded in everyday objects, and ubiquitous computing connects devices through continuous networks of sensors and servers — all of which must be carefully designed and produced by electronics manufacturers. As a result, the future of electrical engineering will depend on the industry’s ability to address the technical and logistical considerations for delivering these advanced systems and equipment.
From smart grids to intelligent lighting, IoT has the potential to revolutionise the way we live. With technology permeating so much of our lives already, local governments are investing in ‘smart cities’ that will harness data collected through the IoT and cloud-based technology to tackle social issues and improve urban life, sustainability and transport. However, the IoT will also be essential to developing new electronics.
Brexit, the pandemic and labour shortages have impacted supply chains and threatened to stunt the industry’s ability to keep up with ever-increasing demand. But embracing IoT can streamline processes, provide accurate real-time data to mitigate supply chain disruption and improve the overall quality of printed circuit boards (PCBs) and other core components within electronics. Plus, as sustainability is a core focus for businesses across sectors in 2022, developments in AI and ML will be crucial to ensuring systems are operating with the minimum energy output.
From remotely controlled wire cutters to industrial robotics performing monotonous tasks in factories, investing in robotics will also be crucial for electronics manufacturing services providers. While the industry focuses on training the next generation of engineers, adopting robotics will reduce the likelihood of human error that might affect manufacturers’ abilities to continue delivering high-quality electronics products at scale.
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