Welcome to The Week in Digital Transformation, our weekly round-up of newsworthy developments, research and ideas from the realm of digital transformation.

This week, we take a look at how a major charity – Parkinson’s UK – is doing digital transformation, supported by cloud computing and an investment in data literacy.

Additionally, Daniel Newman is back in Forbes with an analysis of how his predicted trends for 2019 could impact the CMO, and Deloitte and MIT Sloan Management Review have published new research on where biopharma companies are in their digital transformation journey.

Finally, we round up three “keys” to digital transformation, each from a different senior digital figure.

How Parkinson’s UK uses cloud computing and big data to support its digital transformation

Most companies undergo digital transformation in order to develop new strategies and remain relevant in a fast-changing world – in other words, to stay in business. But one organisation is undergoing digital transformation in a bid to go out of business as quickly as possible.

That organisation is Parkinson’s UK, whose mission is to find a cure for Parkinson’s Disease – meaning that the charity will have served its purpose once the disease can be cured. Julie Dodd, Director of Digital Transformation and Communication at Parkinson’s UK, told ZDnet, “We want to find a cure and go out of business as quickly as possible. Technology can be crucial in that goal.”

The slogan for Parkinson's UK: Change attitudes. Find a cure. Join us.

ZDNet describes how Parkinson’s has implemented cloud-based data warehousing, a type of data management that has helped to break down silos and increase transparency. The article is an interesting look at the unique data management obstacles faced by charities, as well as an example of how investment in data literacy and the right technology can bring about a change in organisational culture.

Dodd is certainly sold on the benefits of cloud computing, telling ZDNet, “Any organisation that thinks it doesn’t need to be in the cloud is misguided.”

Daniel Newman on how 2019’s top transformation trends will impact the CMO

In a previous digital transformation roundup, we covered a list of digital transformation predictions for 2019 by Daniel Newman, principal analyst at Futurum Research and CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. The annual list highlights the trends and technologies that Newman believes will shape the technology and marketing landscape – or not – in the next calendar year, and why (or why not).

This week, Newman published a follow-up article in Forbes analysing how the trends he predicts for 2019 are likely to impact the CMO. As Newman writes:

“It’s safe to say that when many of today’s marketing executives finished college in the ’80s and ’90s, they could not have imagined the type of world they’d be working in just a few decades later. Perhaps no other segment of the enterprise has had to work to redefine its role and mission based on digital transformation as much as the CMO. Once focused on ad buys and billboards, today’s digitally transformed CMO is in many cases the first in the enterprise to utilize today’s cutting edge technology, whether they’re ready for it or not.”

Which of Newman’s 2019 digital transformation trends – which run the gamut from chatbots and connected clouds to 5G and GDPR – does he believe will most impact the CMO?

5G: Newman predicts that CMOs will “latch on with a vengeance” to the initial roll-out of 5G in 2019, as it will offer speeds as much as 1,000 times faster than 4G, with 100 times less latency. While the launch of 5G might be “NBD” for consumers, writes Newman, it means that “marketing teams can provide richer, more robust premium content, and trust that users will actually see it (rather than clicking away before it loads.)

“For CMOs, it opens a whole new world of advertising and CX opportunity.”

From AR to bendy screens: What’s next for mobile advertising?AI: In 2019, Newman believes that we will see an increase in companies using AI to process data effectively. He predicts that this will allow for “data-driven campaigns that WORK. Just about every time.” They will be so effective, in fact, that Newman believes CMOs will “miss the days when they could just be creative—rather than creating what AI shows will sell most effectively.”

A nice problem to have, or a tragedy for creative marketing? We’ll have to wait and see.

GDPR: “If there’s one area where the digitally transformed CMO may be getting pushback from the C-suite,” writes Newman, “it’s in dealing with GDPR.” A recent poll by Deloitte of participants in a webcast found that only one-third (34.5%) of participants could “demonstrate compliance [with GDPR today”, while another third (32.7%) expected to be compliant by the end of the year.

“For many, [GDPR] likely feels more like a headache than a business goal,” Newman observes – but adds that digitally transformed CMOs can use the GDPR as an opportunity to build customer trust and loyalty if they campaign correctly.

Biopharma companies seek digital transformation, but most are lagging behind

A new piece of research by Deloitte and MIT Sloan Management Review, the 2018 Digital Business Global Executive Study, has found that biopharma companies are lagging behind with digital transformation – despite a majority of companies (58%) making digital a top management priority.

Biospectrum Asia reports that many biopharma companies (which are companies that produce pharmaceutical drugs manufactured in, extracted from, or semi-synthesized from biological sources) are exploring a variety of digital opportunities, including engaging consumers with apps, and improving operations with AI. However, just 20% of biopharma leaders reported that their companies are digitally maturing.

Graphic featuring a laptop with a heart monitor line cutting across the middle of its screen, with clusters of pills either side.

What’s holding pharma companies back from digital transformation?

Deloitte and MIT found that a quarter of biopharma companies (25%) are early in their digital transformation journey, while more than half (55%) are still developing their capabilities. So what obstacles are holding biopharma companies back from digital transformation?

The study revealed a number of factors negatively impacting biopharma companies’ digital transformation efforts, including a lack of clear vision, insufficient funding, and inadequate leadership. More than three quarters (78%) of biopharma companies surveyed said that their organisation needs to find new leaders in order to succeed in the digital age, while only a fifth (20%) believe their companies are developing leaders with the capabilities necessary to facilitate digital transformation.

Some biopharma companies also reported suffering from “shiny object syndrome” – shifting their focus based on what competitors are doing, instead of keeping a clear goal in mind and pursuing it.

However, in the grand scheme of industries pursuing digital transformation, biopharma companies are not faring the worst by any means. According to Deloitte and MIT, biopharma ranks in the middle with regards to digital maturity and exhibiting the flexible leadership required for transformation: behind IT companies, entertainment and telecoms, but ahead of manufacturing, financial insurance, and government organisations.

The keys to digital transformation: Google’s Cloud, government leadership, and the C-Suite

This section is a regular feature of our Week in Digital Transformation roundups: every week, we find a new article (or multiple articles) which have been published claiming that this trend or that technology is the ultimate secret, or “key”, to unlocking digital transformation.

This week, we’ve got a trifecta of keys put forward by different senior leaders from different parts of the world.

Google Cloud CEO: our cloud is the key to digital transformation

At this week’s Google Cloud Next London, an annual two-day exhibition of cloud technology hosted by Google Cloud, Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene spoke about why Google believes its cloud platform is the key to business’ digital transformation.

“Companies are working out their digital strategies and cloud is a key part of that … it’s clear it’s a major vehicle for digital transformation,” Greene told conference attendees, as reported by TechRadar.

“Cloud is becoming a better way to run your IT … and a way to affect change in your company. Companies are using their migration to the cloud to redefine their mission – you take another look at your culture, your processes.”

A promotional image for Google Cloud Next London, with the event name and date superimposed on an aerial shot of the City of London.

We’ve referenced the importance of the cloud to digital transformation in the vast majority of our digital transformation roundups (including this one!) – few would dispute that cloud technology is crucial to transforming digitally. But whether Google’s cloud in particular is the key is a matter for debate.

Google faces stiff competition in the cloud market as other major players have moved in on this crucial battleground: late last month, Adobe confirmed that it would be acquiring B2B marketing cloud specialist Marketo – a formidable addition to its own cloud offering.

And in the same week, Alibaba Cloud announced that it would be joining forces with KPMG to help advance the digital transformation of businesses. (Read more on these two major alliances in our 21st September digital transfomation roundup).

Google Cloud has formed its own alliance with digital transformation specialist Atos to enable enterprises to benefit from cloud technology and AI. Whether it is enough to make Google’s Cloud competitive will remain to be seen.

Galaxy Backbone CEO: Government leadership is the key to digital transformation in Nigeria

Galaxy Backbone is an information and communications technology services provider owned by the government of Nigeria. This week, Nigerian national newspaper This Day interviewed its CEO, Yusuf Kazaure, on the company’s role in the transformation of communications infrastructure, and how to bridge the digital divide in Nigeria through digital transformation.

Kazaure spoke about the necessity of government leadership to digital transformation, saying,

“The globe is becoming digital and government  has to show [a] leadership role in that regard, because government has a direct relationship with every citizen.

“To achieve digital transformation in Nigeria, all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government, must be connected to a single platform […] Government should be seen as a single large entity to be able to deliver the dividend of democracy to the people. [We are] providing the infrastructure that will enable government to become digital and provide digital services to the citizens, which is key to digital transformation that will drive digital economy.”

Gartner senior research analyst: The C-suite is the key to meaningful digital transformation

Finally, Augie Ray, a senior research analyst with Gartner, wrote in CIO New Zealand this week about how organisations can achieve meaningful digital transformation.

In the piece, Ray argues that the key to worthwhile digital transformation won’t be found in a company’s IT department, but in its C-suite:

“What risks are you willing to take? Can you put a portion of today’s business model at risk to create tomorrow’s? How much are you willing to invest? Can you tell your shareholders that transforming your company for success tomorrow will involve increased costs today?”

He also points out that while many companies might look enviously at start-ups, or digitally native companies like Amazon, for their agility, private equity, and new technology, none of them want to emulate their drawbacks. For start-ups, these drawbacks include cash flow urgency, bootstrap mentality, and a lack of legacy reputation and institutional knowledge.

For Amazon, the downsides of being a successful digital disruptor include significant business risks, high initial losses, and the relentless prioritisation of market share and innovation over profit margins.

“I regularly speak with business leaders who tell me they want to emulate Amazon, but Amazon lost almost US$3 billion before turning its first profit. […] And Amazon took risks—significant risks. It launched Amazon Prime and AWS and won; and it lost on the Amazon Fire Phone, which Amazon pulled little more than a year after it debuted. Of course, few want to emulate Amazon’s losses, its purposeful reduced margin, its considerable R&D costs, and its risks. They want to be Amazon without doing Amazon.

“Today, Amazon is one of the largest companies in the world and Sears is a penny stock. There was no reason Sears, with all its assets, brand equity, logistics, experience, and other advantages couldn’t have done what Amazon did — no reason other than its unwillingness to take risks and shift priorities from short-term profit to long-term relevance and brand health.”

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