Businesses get the most bang from their technology investments through well-executed strategies that combine innovation and customer focus. But how do they do it? These examples illustrate the myriad ways business and technology leaders are using the cloud, integrated software, and engineered systems to navigate major market trends with agility and success.
Software as a service is merely the first step in an enterprise cloud strategy. The biggest impact happens when companies are able to implement all cloud layers—including platform as a service, infrastructure as a service, and data as a service—as an integrated stack of applications and platform services.
Customers are more empowered than ever. They use mobile devices to shop and compare, social media to share their experiences and opinions, and they won’t hesitate to switch the companies they do business with if they are unsatisfied. For many organizations, that requires a new strategy and processes that are sharply focused on providing the very best customer experience (CX) across all channels and touch points.
For more in-depth articles on the latest CX strategies, see Cloud Customer Successes.
CIOs have traditionally been the stewards of enterprise IT, with responsibilities that start at the data center and extend to business and customer applications. But the digital disruption brought on by social and mobile technologies, as well as the big data and enterprise cloud, is forcing CIOs to adapt and transform their role.
From smart energy meters to smart health monitors, smart cars to smart appliances, internet-connected devices provide a huge opportunity for business leaders to help differentiate their organizations. But there's a potential for backlash. One KPMG study in the United Kingdom showed that 70 percent of United Kingdom consumers "fear the increase in the number of interconnected everyday devices make it too easy for things to go wrong," Computer Weekly reported. And according to a Ponemon Institute study, risks of a data breach in the cloud are multiplying because of increased dependency on cloud services and the proliferation of devices with access to cloud resources.
While customer fears are not unfounded (just look at the news to see why), businesses shouldn't stop moving forward. Executives need to make proper data governance and security practices part of the go-to-market strategy, rather than an afterthought. "Security needs to be about something more than tactics. It has to be a cultural mindset," said Mary Ann Davidson, chief security officer at Oracle. "That should be expressed at the beginning of any IT project—before we start designing a system architecture, we need to discuss plans to secure the technology."
The IoT will be comprised of billions of devices—smartphones, sensors, home appliances, and much more—creating real-time data on an unprecedented scale. Many people now take advantage of the IoT through their mobile devices, and the next wave of IoT is when we start making our environment smarter, according to Oracle Group Vice President Jeremy Ashley.
A 2013 PwC study on the next-generation workforce found that 64 percent of millennial workers (born between 1981 and 1996 and expected to make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2030) would like to occasionally work from home, and 66 percent would like to shift their work hours.
The proliferation of mobile technologies is making that possible: Gartner reports that by 2016, more than 30 percent of "bring your own device"(BYOD) strategies will leverage personal applications, data, and social connections for enterprise purposes.
"The next generation wants to work this way naturally," says Jody Thompson, author of Why Managing Sucks and How to Fix It. "They're entering an old-fashioned, twentieth-century system, and what we're telling them doesn't fit with how they think and how they move stuff along."
In his book Accelerate: Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World, Harvard Business School professor John P. Kotter notes critical metrics that define the speed of our current economy—the steady growth of patent applications over the past 50 years, the rapid increase in the numbers of shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, and the explosion of data stored on hard drives around the world.
With markets moving so fast, demands on senior executives to make timely decisions are also increasing—while tolerance for error is growing ever smaller.
"CEOs these days are given one term in office," said John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, told Newsweek in 2013. "If they're very successful, they might get four more years."
For many businesses, optimizing the global supply chain has become a high priority. Companies can now hone order fulfillment using accessible cloud-based services across the spectrum of the “quote-to-cash” process. Integrating these key business functions helps improve order accuracy and fulfillment efficiency while reducing billing errors and tightening revenue-recognition processes.
According to the Manpower Group’s 2015 Talent Shortage Survey, 48 percent of US executives reported that talent shortages are having a medium-to-high impact on their ability to serve clients.
Despite this talent shortfall, PwC's 18th Annual Global CEO Survey found that 50 percent of CEOs expect to hire more people in 2015, with 81 percent saying their organizations are looking for a much broader range of skills. That leaves human resources executives stuck between market forces and executive demands.
"My conversations with CHROs throughout the world reveal that the shrewdest among them are finding opportunities to help their companies thrive amidst upheaval. These CHROs are focusing on three important areas," says Bertrand Dussert, vice president of HCM transformation and thought leadership for Oracle.