Challenges facing enterprises in the post-digital era

Challenges facing enterprises in the post-digital era

Sanjay Podder, Managing Director, Accenture Labs (APAC Regional Lead), & Global R&D Lead - Software Engineering & TechforGood, discusses how organisations can get ready for the new reality.

Enterprises are on the verge of entering the post-digital era. The biggest challenge for enterprises here is to plan for and meet an entirely new set of customer expectations. In the post-digital era, businesses will build new products and services that shift traditional one-off, transactional exchanges between businesses and consumers to an on-going, customised relationship, observes Sanjay Podder, Managing Director, Accenture Labs (APAC Regional Lead), and Global R&D Lead - Software Engineering and TechforGood, in this exclusive interaction with CIO Dialogues.

What in your view are the key challenges enterprises will face in the post-digital era?
As we enter the post-digital era, enterprises are at a turning point. Digital is no longer a differentiating advantage—it’s the price of admission and table stakes for doing business. It’s important then for businesses to realise that what got them here today is different from what it will take to succeed moving forward. Companies will need to plan for and meet an entirely new set of expectations from customers, employees, and business partners. The challenge lies in understanding this and acting accordingly, by using powerful new technologies to innovate business models and disrupt markets, hyper-personalise experiences for customers, and customise products, services—and even people’s surroundings—on-demand.

What attributes or factors will differentiate successful companies from the not so successful ones moving forward?
In a world where practically every organisation is driving its business with digital, the advantage now lies in going beyond foundational tools and concepts to adopt next-generation technologies in a strategic, transparent manner. These new capabilities will provide ever-deeper insights into customers, employees, and business partners, and so building trust among these stakeholders will be critical to success. Addressing the privacy, safety, ethics, and governance that come along with this level of technology-enabled access is paramount.

Having established this trust, the most successful companies will be those that:

  • Move their focus to the end result. This means carefully selecting specific opportunities to target and then working backward to determine which technologies and approach will achieve their desired outcomes.
  • Clearly define what ‘post-digital’ means to their business goals, and who else is aligned to their vision. In other words, as companies define their objectives they should also define their ecosystem—which partners to collaborate with, in what capacity, and how.
  • Master SMAC and build on it. Over the past few years, social, mobile, analytics, and cloud (SMAC) have driven the most impactful enterprise transformations. Having integrated SMAC into their enterprise models, organisations should further bolster their capabilities with new technologies, such as distributed ledgers, AI, extended reality and quantum computing. At Accenture, we call these ‘DARQ’ technologies.

The deployment of DARQ technologies is still in its infancy. Things can potentially go wrong if they are not implemented properly. What are the top three considerations for enterprises while evaluating these technologies?
Enterprises looking to implement DARQ technologies should ask themselves the following:Is the organisation’s digital foundation ready for DARQ? Early stage DARQ pilots will rely on SMAC practices, so the latter need to be firmly in place.

  • How will the organisation access DARQ technologies? The four technologies are at varying levels of maturity, and different companies will look to apply these in various capacities. Based on these factors, enterprises should evaluate the merits of building in-house capabilities or working with external partners.
  • How can the company use DARQ to shape not only its organisation, but also the future of its industry? These technologies have the potential to fundamentally transform entire industries. Companies should assess the possibilities and then implement optimal combinations of DARQ, taking a leadership approach to steering their given industry to their preferred future.

While personalisation of products and offers is what most enterprises seek to achieve, it’s a tall order considering the sheer scale of the audience one needs to address in the post-digital age. What are enterprises missing?
It may sound like a big ask, but the foundations are already in place. In the digital age, businesses established feedback loops to enhance customer experiences. New digital touchpoints gave them new ways of communicating with consumers and also helped generate more data. The more data gathered, the greater the insights into customers and companies’ ability to improve and personalise services.

In the post-digital era, businesses will build new products and services that shift traditional one-off, transactional exchanges between businesses and consumers to an on-going, customised relationship. The leaders will move beyond personalised products to individualised experiences, creating a one-to-one relationship with each customer where technology is front and centre. These experiences will in turn deliver a living, holistic, and on-going view of customers’ lives, goals and desires—digital identities that will provide for a far richer feedback loop.

Hyper connectivity in the post-digital scenario complicates the threat scenario. How should enterprises deal with it?
While interconnectedness might increase exposure to cyber threats, it also provides the mechanism by which security can be improved. At present, risk management practices are mostly focused on a company’s internal operations. But what would happen if businesses applied the same collaborative approach they use to deliver products and services towards security? After all, in a hyper-connected ecosystem, an attack on one is an attack on all.

In the post-digital world organisations will need to factor ecosystem dependencies into their security measures, and also make security a cardinal component of how they build partnerships. This will require looking across the entire ecosystem to assess risk, putting themselves in the shoes of both attackers and partners to understand where the biggest threats lie and how to prevent them.

Organisations should also keep the fluid nature of ecosystem relationships in mind while developing a solid foundation of good governance. One-off measures that are negotiated each time a new partner is introduced aren’t enough; comprehensive models and policies must ensure that the third parties joining the company’s ecosystems adhere to the same standard of security—or higher—that they set for themselves.