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Modern Business Experience 2017 round-up

1st Feb 2017
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Oracle’s Modern Business Experience conference landed in London this week. Here is a round-up of some of the key takeaways from day one.

The flagship event, which took place at the ExCeL Centre, focussed on digital transformation and the practical steps organisations can take to accelerate innovation and growth.

Matthew Guest, head of Digital Strategy Consulting at Deloitte, spoke about ‘unicorns and dinosaurs’ in business, how unicorns (digital native culture) were taking on dinosaurs (industrial culture), and that we will soon be living in a post-dinosaur world.

Oracle chief executive Safra Catz ran with this theme and stressed the importance of embracing change, no matter how difficult that process is.

Catz said everyone thinks about being the dinosaur, but offered up some advice to avoid heading in that direction: “Companies need to change before they are forced to change,” she said. “If you're not at the table you're on the menu. Organisations need to be constantly changing, and that should be seen as a positive,” Catz added.

For Catz digital transformation is not something that has a beginning, middle and end, but rather is something that never ends; an ongoing journey.

She went on to explain the ‘winners curse’ - the belief that you will win forever if you keep doing what you're doing - and adding: “That’s exactly when you are at the most fragile when hubris sets in from doing things the way you’ve always done it.”

Catz revealed how technology can enable businesses to run operations better: “True digital transformation is about having better information so that the talent in your organisations can make better decisions; decisions about who are your best customers and how you serve their needs.

“True digital transformation automates away the work that does not need manual intervention. It unleashes your people to truly take decisions,” she added.

Catz explained how Oracle had learned from its own experience. In its journey to the cloud, she said that the organisation realised it had to change everything about its customer engagement model: “In the cloud, customers want to leave the six-month contract negotiation with us behind,” she said. “In the days when a five-year implementation was the rule when putting in a system, six months sounded reasonable. Now that concept is absurd.”

She acknowledged that changing processes and systems was a difficult thing to do, but added that the hard part was not the technology, more the sociology: People need to be convinced and you have to lead, Catz said.

To help deal with resistance she advised making sure that there are tangible benefits in the day job and that staff should start seeing benefits immediately. She added that the other key ingredient was leadership: “You need courage. You need to say, ‘you know how we’ve always done it, we’re not doing that any more’. We have to change before we get changed.”

To demonstrate that agile and disruptive approach Catz introduced Joanna Fielding, CFO of HSBC Global Services Companies, who spearheaded the bank’s first foray into cloud adoption.

Fielding explained the rationale behind moving that part of HSBC to the cloud was around wanting to keep technology current and to do it quickly.

“If we’d done this on premise, we’d have done it the HSBC way,” Fielding said. “Partnering with Oracle and Deloitte enabled us to leapfrog that and look at the best way of doing it.”

Along with being courageous, Fielding’s key takeaway was about being creative in how you bring people along on the digital journey, particularly at the executive level.

“You’ve got to work hard bringing people on the journey,” she said. “Getting someone to do something electronically is hard.”


How has your organisation (or your clients’ businesses) handled digital transformation?


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