By Steve Cox, Group Vice President, ERP and EPM Cloud Business Group, Oracle
I spend a lot of time speaking with customers and conferring with my colleagues and peers. One theme I hear over and over again is the need for companies to transform their operating models. Everyone I talk to is awed by the pace of business change, and they are keenly aware that their own business models must evolve accordingly.
In an age when digital technologies are driving seismic disruption, companies must embrace this accelerated pace of change, or risk succumbing to it. Business must adopt a culture that embraces continuous change.
The keys to success are three-fold. First, organizations must have a clear understanding of their long-term strategies. Second, they must choose technology that establishes a solid foundation for agile growth. Finally, they must ensure that their people adapt to and embrace change.
Continous change might begin with adopting digital technologies, but it doesn’t end until you’ve fostered an agile culture that brings fresh solutions to business challenges on a daily basis.
It all might sound a bit overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. In the first of a two-part series, I'll look at recommendations from Oracle customers and thought leaders that we've compiled into a new executive brief, Leading Digital Transformation.
Identifying the Challenges
There are two types of challenges to consider when discussing change: external and internal. External challenges make transformation an imperative. They include:
- An increasingly competitive global business environment
- The growing power of the digital consumer
- Lower barriers to entry across industries
- Rapid technological development and disruption
Internal barriers include:
- Difficulty implementing cutting-edge technology to enable business innovation
- Cultural resistance to change
- The need to deliver and measure value at every level of the organization
Cloud Technology Sets the Foundation
To address these challenges, companies must start with a technology foundation that enables them to change direction quickly. No business can afford to wait months (or even years) for a system upgrade whilst its competitors are zooming past.
Companies need innovative systems, built on modern best practices, that are updated regularly with the latest capabilities and processes. This entails a unified, enterprise cloud that permits rapid design, adoption, and automation of new processes to support ever-evolving business models.
The advantages of a unified cloud include:
- Built-in best practices. Finance, HR, customer experience and supply chain clouds should leverage best practices by design. When they do, it frees up your people to focus on what differentiates you from the competition, without continuously redesigning internal business processes. At the same time, cloud systems should be flexible enough to adapt to processes that are competitive differentiators.
- A holistic approach. Enterprise cloud systems are uniquely suited to fully integrated, end-to-end architectures that function across organizational boundaries. They can be as complex and interoperable as needed, without generating the maintenance overhead of on-premises solutions, nor the integration headaches of limited-functionality cloud apps from multiple vendors.
- End-to-end supply chain management. A unified enterprise cloud is ideal to unite the supply chain from vendor to customer. It is particularly suited to the buyer-centric supply-chain design that has transformed entire industries such as electronics (companies like Apple, for example).
- Scalability. It makes sense for large organizations to begin transformation on a smaller scale as proof of concept. Unfortunately, many companies stop there, stymied by functional and operational silos and a lack of a vision for holistic transformation. Enterprise cloud systems are built for scalability, permitting companies to tap into a handful of instances and processes—or an entire organization’s worth—without continually adding infrastructure or new vendors.
- Drastically reduced deployment time. Whether creating new products or streamlining business processes, speed counts. The cloud is more configurable and easier to manage than the custom-coding projects of the past.
- Fast access to the latest technologies. Because a unified cloud is updated regularly by the provider, users can quickly and easily consume the latest technology innovations, such as adaptive intelligence, machine learning, blockchain—or whatever the next big thing might be. Look for a cloud provider that is an established innovator investing heavily in research and development.
- More resources for innovation. Because a unified cloud requires significantly fewer IT resources, consultants, and personnel to deploy and maintain, your team can redeploy those resources to focus on creating real competitive differentiation.
Cloud can drive and enable continuous change—but it’s just one component. In many ways, it’s the easiest one. Talk to anyone who has been involved in a large-scale digital transformation, and they always say that the hardest part was not the technology; it was the change management.
In my next post, I’ll look at what a company needs at the organizational level to succeed in transforming itself.