Digital transformations require leadership buy-in, a detailed plan of attack and a flexible workforce, according to Vodfone's Andrew Morawski.
Vodafone is tapping into its own digital transformation processes in order to help its customer reap the rewards of digitization, but CIOs must overcome significant challenges in order to achieve their own transformations.
Telco Transformation recently spoke with Morawski, president and country chairman, Vodafone Americas, about his own company's digital transformation and how it draws on that experience to help its customers go farther down the digital path. Identifying the solutions that have proven to be successful, he talked about the role of IoT adoption, making the right tools available to customers and deploying a flexible workforce for digital transformations.
Telco Transformation: Vodafone itself is working on becoming a truly digital business. What did that entail on your end? Do you consider Vodafone's digital transformation to be helpful in relating to the businesses that wish to achieve the same?
Andrew Morawski: Through our own experiences, we have learned that a successful digital transformation is the result of providing employees with the tools they need to do their jobs in smart ways and developing the technology and network capabilities to support it. We bring our success and knowledge of the process to businesses that wish to achieve the same. For example, one of the key initiatives in our own digital strategy was deploying a flexible workforce, something we've encouraged for clients. In a recent study, Vodafone found 83% of businesses that adopted flexible working reported improvements in productivity and 61% reported increased profitability.
TT: When did Vodafone decide to pursue that strategy? How far along are you in the process?
AM: There is no firm start date of Vodafone's digital transformation because we're always looking for ways to integrate leading technologies into our digital strategy and will continue to do so as these solutions inevitably evolve. For example, in recent years IoT has become an integral asset for business insights, something Vodafone integrated into the functionality of our global enterprise. In February, we became the first global IoT provider to pass over 50 million connections and our latest figure for IoT connections is more than 54 million.
TT: Can you talk about how you help businesses achieve their own digital transformations and possibly offer specific examples of businesses that did it?
AM: Vodafone is a leading provider in implementing digital consolidation because we offer a unique, unified communications approach which has proven to be successful.
Digital transformation requires assessing existing fixed and mobile capabilities to deploy updated networks in a secure, streamlined process. We manage the ecosystem of partners that make the most sense for a business, creating the least amount of disruption as possible during this progression.
One recent success in the UK was with RSA Group. Faced with the challenge of relocating 1,000 employees and over 10km of paperwork from three outdated London offices to a single dynamic space, Vodafone generated a successful digital workplace. Creating a new, collaborative environment with secure connectivity everywhere and unique communication tools designed to help work groups, we created a more dynamic workplace with increased collaboration and reduced internal emails by 37%.
TT: Is it easier for some companies and/or industries than others to adjust their internal processes and company culture to meet the demands of digital transformation?
AM: Every company is going to have a unique set of challenges approaching a digital transformation strategy. While there are certainly industries leading digital innovation, the process is bespoke to each enterprise based on their capabilities and ideal outcome.
From experience, companies who will have an easier time deploying digital adaptations are those that can aptly prepare and evolve during the process. True digital transformation involves a cohesive plan that impacts every aspect of a company. As businesses implement new technologies, roles within the company will inevitably shift. There needs to be proper training on digital capabilities, bringing experts in machine learning and data science on board, and clear communication across an enterprise as the technology changes. This alignment of technology, people and processes facilitates a smoother transition across company culture as the business transforms.
TT: Does geography play a role? Are businesses in certain countries or types of areas more inclined toward digital transformation?
AM: Regardless of geography, scale or industry, digital transformation is top of mind for competitive enterprises globally. However, one area where we are seeing differences based on geography is which regions are adopting and deploying technologies, such as IoT, to drive change. As discussed earlier, businesses are finding IoT to be a critical asset for digital change, and there are geographical regions embracing the technology more than others. Specifically, we're seeing organizations in the Americas adopting IoT on the biggest scale globally. This year's Vodafone IoT Barometer Report found that 19% of respondents from the Americas have more than 10,000 connected devices, whereas Europe and Asia have 13% and 7% respectively. In fact, IoT adopters in the Americas are also recognizing the most ROI, with 64% reporting a significant ROI on IoT investments (compared to 53% globally.)
TT: Vodafone's IoT Barometer report indicates that two thirds of all the organizations surveyed, as well as 75% of IoT adopters agree that "digital transformation is impossible without IoT." Why is that the case?
AM: Today's technology is developing at an unprecedented pace, a transformation that is touching every aspect of our lives. The Internet of Things is a driving force behind this change, and companies that don't integrate IoT into their digital transformation strategies will fall behind the market. Through IoT integration, enterprises have more access to better data and greater insights into their business, their consumers and their solutions. CIOs will agree that digital transformation is impossible without IoT because the technology is creating digital change across all the ways we interact with our world. For businesses to stay relevant they need the technology to keep pace with their customers.
TT: To what extent does the culture of the workforce itself – digital natives versus people who are less familiar with technology – influence a business in making the decision to pursue digital transformation or make the process easier?
AM: The culture of the workforce plays a massive role in the decision-making process. Digital natives, like millennials, are predominantly more inclined to generate a digital work environment. They have come into their professional careers with the complete consumerization of IT and will consistently seek to integrate tools that will make their jobs more efficient.
Often, a key challenge for CIOs charged with building a digital strategy is educating leaders who are less familiar with the technology about the possibilities and the work required to go into developing new, digital systems. This is critical, as any digital transformation process touches on every aspect of a business and requires the C-suite to be in agreement. A basic understanding of digital technologies starting in the C-suite will result in a smoother transition as an organization undertakes the complexity of this process.
— Ariella Brown, Contributing Writer, Telco Transformation