An app-etite for success in the digital economy in 2017 and beyond

Martin MackayCloud computing, big data analysis, software-defined networking and information security – all the hot jobs of today (and tomorrow) are driven by the application economy. The recent study by LinkedIn clearly shows that the most in-demand skills revolve around an increasingly digital future.

Notably, one of the top skills being sought is user interface design, focusing on the crucial area of user experience, designing the interaction between product and customer. This reflects the evolving nature of all businesses where customers are more likely to interact with brands through an app than a person.

Successful companies of the future will be “built to change” by putting software at the center of everything they do. Such companies understand that current structures and ecosystems are vulnerable to better ideas and they have to be willing to radically change how they manage talent, how they manage assets and investments and how they manage risk. These “built to change” companies focus on business agility, which in turn enables them to drive rapid, continuous improvement in customer experience.

The crucial common characteristic these companies share is the embracing of successful digital transformation. Talk of digital transformation (DX) is near inescapable these days. Enterprises, governments and even cities are looking to technology and innovation to stay relevant at a time when traditional ways of doing things are being disrupted.

Reviewing resources and talents for transformation

Companies are retooling themselves and hiring talent that can get them there. Research by IDC found that 60% of the top 1,000 enterprises in Asia Pacific are placing digital transformation at the center of their corporate strategy.

Digital transformation is not just a fad that businesses are riding. It has very real advantages for those who have thought about and carried out digital initiatives. Hong Kong respondents of a recent CA Technologies study reported significant pay-offs in business impact since undertaking digital initiatives:

  • 59% reported improvement in digital reach
  • 56% reported improvement in customer experience
  • 32% reported improvement in customer satisfaction
  • 35% stated growth in new business revenue
  • 45% stated an increase in time-to-decision
  • 32% stated an increase in speed-to-market

Digital transformation is a journey. Modern companies recognize that this journey has a constantly evolving destination.  That is why they need a modern software factory to deliver continuously improving, customer-focused innovation. With a modern software factory, companies that are built to change will have limitless opportunities to innovate, while having the agility to identify and unwind the things that aren’t working, and adapt them appropriately.

4 areas in the digital journey

Crucially on this journey, the modern company has to pay attention to four key areas in its roadmap: agility, DevOps, security, and where appropriate, the not-to-be-forgotten mainframe.

  • Agility: More than a methodology or toolset, agility is a philosophy to redefine how work is planned, executed and serviced to deliver more value to customers, more rapidly. To deliver a smooth, well-designed and reliable experience for customers, businesses need to have the capability to monitor how systems are performing at any given point on the potential impact of any problem. This allows the team to constantly refine the interface design and enhance the customer experience.
  • DevOps: One of the key benefits of introducing DevOps (both from a process and culture point of view) is that it removes silos within the company and therefore eliminates the dependence on the availability of an individual person or team in order for software delivery to progress. Businesses must unify their development and operations teams to deliver breakthrough applications that maximize customer experience. 

  • Security: As we notice our customers’ businesses moving increasingly to a hybrid IT environment where cloud and on premise applications co-exist, it is clear that an identity-centric security strategy is essential. Security is not just a challenge to businesses for data and reputation protection. It can be an opportunity to win customer loyalty and boost employee productivity, especially with identity-centric security that supports provision of the right people with seamless access to the right data at the right time.
  • Mainframe: Mission critical systems for many of the most advanced companies run on mainframes. They support thousands of applications and devices simultaneously for thousands of users. The mainframe is a powerful ally in terms of supporting and unlocking business value. It can help businesses deliver applications and services with the transparency, availability and reliability customers have come to expect. Mainframes eliminate the barriers between ideas and outcomes for mission-essential applications. As IT leaders start evaluating the costs and effort to achieve dependability, they are realizing that today’s mainframes actually offer surprising opportunities in delivering economic and agility advantages.

More than half (59%) of enterprises surveyed in Hong Kong acknowledge the critical role that digitalization is playing in today’s dynamic market environment. The message is clear: organizations both big and small are betting on digital transformation.

This is the challenge we must all set ourselves. There are good growth opportunities for Hong Kong organizations to fully embrace this digital trend and gain competitive advantage in the application economy through digital transformation. Change is the only constant, and it applies to how businesses are run. For a company to be built to last, it must first and foremost be built to change.

Martin Mackay, president and general manager, Asia Pacific & Japan, CA Technologies. He has almost 30 years of experience in the global technology industry working for both large multi-nationals and private equity backed companies.