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The Impact of Digital on Today's Business Landscape
Raghavan Iyer
MD,Accenture -Lead Avanade Global Delivery Network, Avanade-Avanade
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
For years, the enterprise viewed technology as an enabling tool, distinctly separate from the business. A clear delineation existed between technology companies and those that were merely enabled by technology. In todays new digital business era, however, this perception is changing.

Avanade is celebrating its fifteenth anniversary this year, and the biggest change we have seen during that time has been the shift from technology and business operating as silos, to technology moving to the heart of the business. Digitization has been a profound enabler of this change riving and enabling companies to rethink their response to markets and customers, reshape their operations, and engage and empower their workforces.

The reality is that digital is a journey, with many companies facing the challenge of two-speed IT balancing the need to maintain legacy business systems with the imperative to continuously innovate in a fast evolving marketplace enabled by digital and cloud technologies. The companies that are making progress in transforming the interactions of their customers and employees into digitally empowered experiences are at a clear competitive advantage.

Delta Air Lines is a great example of how digital transformation realizes business results. Delta was looking to improve the efficiency of its business operations and offer customers a more comfortable in-flight experience. In partnership with Microsoft and AT&T, Avanade developed a mobile retail solution for Deltas 19,000 flight attendants. The solution enables the Delta team to process passenger transactions more efficiently, as well as download and read manuals, check flight schedules, and email updates to management in real-time. This increased effectiveness is good for Deltas business and its employees, but also for the in-flight experience and satisfaction levels of passengers. As the Delta example demonstrates, and as we are seeing with other clients around the world, a digital workplace is necessary to effectively meet the needs of the digital customer. A truly digital workplace helps drive revenues and attract the talent that companies need to grow their business and outperform the competition. A recent Avanade-commissioned global study of 500 business and IT leaders around the world found that organizations that have adopted digital workplace solutions have experienced business benefits as a direct result of these technologies; 67 percent cited increased productivity, 53 percent saw increased employee engagement and 43 percent experienced revenue growth. However, confusion remains among an overwhelming majority of companies about what a digital workplace actually looks like, with 84 percent of respondents indicating that email and social media capabilities alone constitute a digital workplace. Clearly, a necessary first step is addressing this misconception.

At Avanade, we define a digital workplace as one that brings together applications, information and collaboration in an intelligent context that is tailored to the individual employees role, location, and tasks. Done well, a digital workplace can increase productivity and efficiency, reduce time to competency, and drive retention and innovation. Avanade has helped many companies navigate their journeys to a digital workplace, including UPM, a leader in the reformation of the bio and forest industries. UPM was struggling with old and fragmented end-user information technology that left the company unable to provide the functionality that employees needed to collaborate and drive innovation. Together with Accenture, Avanade helped guide and implement a global workspace project of more than 15,000 work stations delivering a unified platform for employees to collaborate and communicate more effectively and efficiently. As a result of this new digital backbone, UPM is better able to make collaboration, sustainability, and innovation an integral part of its culture.

Another example is Avanades work with global manufacturer Henkel AG. The company wanted to empower its 47,000 employees in 75 countries to deliver information on any device, anywhere, at any time. A digital workplace based on this vision would increase productivity and innovation, enabling better data-driven decisions. To achieve this vision, Avanade led Henkels migration to Office 365 ProPlus, from envisioning and confirming the business case through devising and implementing the migration plan, preparing employees to use the new software and providing continuous technical support. As a result, Henkel now has a modern, unified communications, and collaboration cloud platform that sets it on a journey toward its digital workplace vision. Enterprises seeking to realize similar benefits from a digital workplace would be well-served to consider the following steps:

Implement a digital strategy: Before considering technology implications, alignment with corporate objectives is a critical first step in developing a digital strategy. This requires sponsorship from the board and/or CEO for a clear business case and timings for the enterprise digital strategy. Adoption of digital workplace tools can then be prioritized effectively.

Embrace collaboration: User experience drives collaboration behaviors. Bring together user friendly social, mobile, analytics, and cloud computing technologies to create a digital workplace that senses and responds to the information needs of employees anytime, anywhere, and on any device.

Up-skill for digital: Demand for digital skills will continue to outpace supply, so now is the time to start thinking about how to enable the blended workforce. People who can collaborate effectively across functions will be highly valued in the digital workplace, but we can also expect roles in areas like security and identity management to become more prevalent. Digital transformation can be challenging, but the rewards are substantial. Our experience working with clients around the world is that companies which embrace the creation of a truly digital workplace will realize increased employee engagement, customer satisfaction, faster innovation, and quantifiable business results.
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