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Three key steps to becoming a digital-first organization

By Sandy Gupta, Vice President, Government and Cross-Industry Strategy & Sales on January 26, 2018

Filed under Digital Transformation

Empowering Innovation, Productivity & Security with a Digital-First Agenda

Leaders in digital transformation generate an average of $100 million in additional operating income each year according to Keystone Strategy Interviews (2016)[1]. Whether you’re a business or government leader, you know that competing in the digital economy is vital to creating job opportunities, stimulating growth, and ensuring sustainable development.

But you may still be grappling with how to achieve a digital-first mindset—and how to do so while ensuring data security. If you are, you’re not alone.

86 percent of CEOs see digital disruption as more of an opportunity than as a threat to their business, but only 47 percent say their organization has developed and communicated a formal business strategy for its digital future, according to a Harvard Business Review Analytics Services survey.

In our work with public and private organizations around the world, we’ve found three steps are key to a digital-first approach: 1) Digitizing your core business activities, 2) Engaging those you serve with accessible, compelling digital practices, and 3) Empowering employees in the new culture of work. Along the way, it’s vital to make sure you have the right data security and privacy measures in place.

I give a summary of these three key steps here, but I encourage you to read our new eBook, Empowering Innovation, Productivity & Security with a Digital-First Agenda which is inspired by the success stories of organizations across industries and government that have gone digital-first.

Digitizing your core business activities

When it comes to digitizing your core business activities, it’s not just about digitizing existing processes. It’s about doing things in entirely new ways. And then continuing to evolve and scale.

Our customers are taking advantage of the opportunities digital technology offers for transforming the customer experience, using data to generate value, and creating new business models. Once they’ve digitized a business activity or created an entirely new digital revenue stream, they’re then continuously evolving it to keep up with changing needs and capitalize on new opportunities.

At the heart of every company’s transformation is a virtuous feedback loop. Better products drive more adoption and consumption; more consumption generates a signal to improve products, to change the product set to address new customer preferences. We are finding that digital feedback loop in every industry.

Ian Turfrey, the CIO of British Medical Association talks about how that feedback loop is helping his organization to continually evolve in his article. “We implement some form of new technology every quarter and it achieves about a year’s worth of work,” he writes. “And it’s a virtuous circle; the new technology has demonstrated powerful new ways of working, which has made our staff and members more inquisitive and more demanding of new capabilities, which is improving our organization and achieving our mission. We’re now experimenting with cutting edge tools like HoloLens and new types of artificial intelligence using group data to gain higher insight. It’s exciting to be driving this journey, and we fully expect to continue our progress in the future.”

David Gledhill, CIO of DBS—a major financial services group in Asia that has digitized all the way to the core of its banking activities—echoes that sentiment. “We see technology itself as a competitive advantage, and we’ve been pushing this philosophy very hard for four years,” he says. “We know we’ve got the recipe right—we just need to keep cooking and baking.”

Engaging those you serve with accessible, compelling digital practices

As organizations and the people they serve move into the digital universe, it’s essential that products and services are both accessible and attractive to all, whatever a person’s age, ability, or location.

By taking advantage of digital technology, our customers are not only keeping up with the ever-evolving expectations and needs of those they serve, they’re also able to engage with more people. That can mean not only better results for an organization, but also more accessibility to key services and products for customers and citizens. And that in turn can have a positive impact on societies and economies. Case in point: global financial services software provider Temenos is enabling banking services to be delivered to customers via mobile phone. As a result, banking has been brought to 10 million people in just two years. All those people can now access the services they need to start a business, employ others, and more.

Empowering employees in the new culture of work

That’s what Hollands Kroon did. It radically reimagined what it means to work in municipal government. One of the key decisions that Hollands Kroon administrators made as part of its workplace transformation was to empower employees by eliminating standard job hierarchies and reporting structures, freeing up more of the workers’ time and energy to help them better serve citizens. Employee morale is up, absences and costs are down, and citizen satisfaction has improved 34 percent.

Ensuring security and privacy

As your organization digitally transforms, you want to ensure you have the right data security and privacy protections in place.

Whether it’s through our wide array of compliance certifications and end-to-end security and data protection capabilities, our digital crimes unit, or the more than $1 billion we invest in security research and development each year, we’re constantly working to help our customers take a holistic approach to protect, detect, and respond to security threats and increasing cybercrime.

It’s how we’ve earned the trust of startups, governments, and 90 percent of Fortune 500 businesses who run on the Microsoft Cloud.

Take your next step

As our customers demonstrate, digital transformation isn’t just about technology, it’s about what technology can empower you to do. It’s about re-envisioning existing business models and embracing a different way of bringing together people, data, and processes to create value for those you serve. Wherever you are on your digital-first journey, Microsoft and our vast ecosystem of partners can help you take your next step.

Learn more and be inspired by the success stories of organizations across industries and government that have gone digital-first in this eBook.


[1] Keystone Strategy Interviews, October 2015–March 2016

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