Welcome to The Week in Digital Transformation, our regular roundup of interesting news, ideas, research and other stories from the realm of digital transformation.

From the UK government to retail in Singapore and healthcare in Australia, we’ve got a very global round-up of digital transformation stories this week.

A report has revealed that more than half of UK government departments are struggling to implement digital transformation, and a lack of skills is partially to blame.

Plus, a snapshot of 111 businesses in Singapore and Hong Kong reveals the state of digital transformation in two of Asia’s business hubs. One of them (Singapore) is also a major site of investment from consumer goods giant P&G, and we look at what the company is doing to accelerate Singapore’s retail digital transformation.

And Australian healthcare experts expound on the patient-centric future of healthcare – providing the country’s technological systems are up to the task.

How mature businesses tackle digital transformation: Dell and McLaren

Founded in 1984, computer technology Dell is not exactly an ancient, creaking legacy institution. But nor was it born out of the digital age like much younger, faster-growing start-ups like Uber and Deliveroo.

The same is true of racing team McLaren, which was founded in 1963, and celebrated its 55th anniversary this year. While they might be said to have little in common, both companies are facing the challenges of being mature companies fighting off competition from more nimble disruptors who are inherently, natively digital in a way that they are not.

This week, Compelo published a write-up from the Dell UK annual forum which looks at how both companies are tackling digital transformation and working to stay competitive in their respective sectors.

The article highlights three strategies that one or both companies have employed to reinvent their organisation and fend off the challenge from digital disruptors:

Changing behaviour – not just spending

John Allert, Chief Marketing Officer at McLaren, explains how the company worked to change its culture to keep up with competitors rather than just increasing its spending.

“The spend in Formula 1 at the moment is frankly out of control and we are being outspent by a rate of five to three by those at the front of the grid,” he said.

“To catch up, let alone overtake and sustain an advantage, you need to be doing things differently rather than just spending more money.”

Diversifying the workforce

Both Dell and McLaren have been taking steps to diversify their workforce on multiple fronts in order to rejuvenate it.

Dayne Turbitt, Senior Vice President at Dell EMC UK – Dell Technologies’ data storage subsidiary – spells out why attitude and agility are more important than experience when it comes to new hires.

“Bringing knowledge and experience to a company is only valuable for the first year,” he says. “If they don’t progress the next year, that knowledge will be obsolete.”

This mentality was particularly important when it came to improving Dell EMC’s gender diversity, as few women had the exact experience and background the company would typically look for.

By focusing on hiring graduates and early career individuals with the right attitude, Dell managed to improve both its age and its gender diversity.

Reverse mentoring

In order to help its younger hires integrate into the workforce, Dell set up a reverse mentoring programme which paired them with older, more established employees.

This went all the way up to the Senior Vice President, and Turbitt describes how being partnered with a young graduate in the engineering department revolutionised his thinking.

“[The experience] completely challenged my thinking and the ways we do things,” says Turbitt, adding that the exercise was “invaluable”.

The programme, along with other changes like a relaxing of the dress code and the addition of pool and tennis tables to the workspace, pushed the employee satisfaction score within Turbitt’s office up to 84 out of 100 – compared with a company average of 45, and an industry average of 35.

The state of digital transformation in Singapore and Hong Kong

How are companies in two of Asia’s largest business hubs adapting to massive technological change?

To find out, cloud-based information security company Zscaler reached out to 111 companies in Singapore and Hong Kong with questions about each organisation’s digital transformation strategy, as well as their attitude towards cloud services and Microsoft Office 365.

Here are some key findings from the survey:

  • While 63% of companies reported that they have a digital transformation strategy, a worrying 35% either weren’t sure whether they had a plan in place, or declined to answer the question.
  • Two-thirds of respondents (66%) are migrating some of their company’s applications to the cloud, but many have reservations about security. 65% of respondents reported being concerned about the security of cloud solutions, and do not know exactly where their data is stored in the cloud.
  • A majority of respondents have either rolled out Office 365 for their organisation or have plans in place to do so. However, 34% of companies were still unsure as to whether they should consider the service.
  • 33% of survey respondents worry that the increased collaboration brought about by Office 365 would lead to data breaches, while 20% were worried about a downgraded user experience.

How P&G is accelerating digital transformation in Singapore

Here’s one thing that might improve Singapore’s track record with digital transformation. Multinational consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble is driving forward its digital transformation agenda within the region by investing hundreds of millions of dollars into retail in Singapore.

P&G kicked off its project with an initial investment of US $100 million last year, and has followed it up with an additional investment of US $30 million in 2018. TechWire Asia spoke exclusively to Sanjay Singh, CIO and Director of Global Business Services at P&G Asia Pacific, to find out what has spurred P&G to invest so heavily in Singapore.

Procter & Gamble’s Singapore office, inside the Metropolis business centre. Image: Procter & Gamble

P&G’s funding is being directed towards two projects in the region. The first, E-Centre, is a digital innovation programme launched in partnership with the Economic Development Board, a government agency responsible for enhancing Singapore’s position as a global business and investment hub.

The second, i-Singapore Digital Omni-channel Centre (or i-SIDOC) is an initiative enabling P&G to work with regional retailers to create actionable solutions in omnichannel consumer shopping.

In addition, P&G’s investment will support new supply chain projects and a new team of data scientists in Singapore.

Singh emphasised to TechWire Asia that P&G’s investment in Singapore wasn’t made simply to grow the company’s portfolio of technologies, but was driven by real consumer and business needs.

“Digital to us starts with identify the problem areas, have everyone in the business understand and agree on those, highlight key outcomes, and then bring in the right technology,” he told the publication. In other words: solutions first, technology second.

Article author Soumik Roy notes that while multinational conglomerates like P&G tend to lead digital transformation in advanced, developed markets, they often struggle in developing regions like Asia and Africa. In these kinds of markets, smaller digital disruptors have an advantage due to being more agile and better understanding the consumer.

Granted, a wealthy, tech-savvy region like Singapore is probably one of the more friendly Asian markets to branch out into for a western conglomerate. Nevertheless, as P&G’s first innovation center outside the United States, the Singapore project is still ambitious – and if it succeeds, could help revive P&G’s flagging fortunes in addition to giving retail digital transformation in Singapore a big boost.

Digital transformation in the retail sector: challenges and opportunities

Government departments are struggling to progress with digital transformation: report

More than half of UK government departments are seeing slow or partial process with digitising their processes, according to a new report published by digital service delivery agency Zaizi.

Information Age reports on the findings from Zaizi’s research, which also revealed that even fewer government departments are exploring automation. Combined, these two factors are having a negative impact on government digital transformation projects, which are struggling to achieve efficiency.

Where are government departments stumbling with digital transformation? According to the report, one of the culprits is legacy infrastructure: 65% of respondents to Zaizi’s survey stated that their existing ICT infrastructure is hindering, or partially hindering, the success of implementing digital services and automating their processes.

In addition, half of digital transformation projects carried out by government departments are overlooking technologies that include Internet of Things (IoT), robotic process automation, machine learning and AI.

More than half of UK government departments are struggling to execute digital transformation projects. 

But the government’s problems with executing digital transformation are just as much about skills as they are about technology: when asked if their organisation had the skills and knowledge to apply these technologies, between a third and half of respondents (33% for IoT, 49% for robotic process automation, 43% for machine learning and 41% for AI) said they had none or very little.

Respondents were more confident about their ability to implement more established technology platforms like cloud services and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Even so, Aingaran Pillai, CEO of Zaizi, warned of the costly potential of improperly executed transformation projects.

“Every organisation is a software company of some guise in today’s world, yet this research indicates that government is yet to embrace this mindset,” he said. “However, it’s hard to do so when you don’t have the skills and expertise to imagine digital transformation projects not just in the context of today, but also tomorrow.

“The risk is that current projects will become a burden on the public purse because in five years’ time – or less – they will need to be revamped.”

The future of healthcare in Australia is patient-centric

Healthcare in Australia is lagging behind other high-tech nations in its use of technology and digital processes, according to a detailed piece published this week by ZDNet.

Dr. Kevin Cheng, founder of Australian healthcare provider Osana, talks about the use of fax machines and letter-writing among health specialists to communicate with one another, while in countries like the United States, GPs are carrying out their consultations virtually.

Phil Kernick, co-founder and CTO of information security firm CQR Consulting, adds his concern that the “very shaky foundation” of Australia’s healthcare systems and lack of regulation will become a big problem as technology becomes more advanced.

Patients are the way forward. Cheng tells ZDNet that Orana’s strategy is to put the patient’s health at the centre of their business and focus on prevention and outcomes, in anticipation of a future when patients are consumers and customers, and can control their healthcare via apps and data.

“We want to be partners with patients in their health and well-being,” says Cheng.

AXA PPP’s Head of Digital on the challenge of creating a trusted health tech brand

Dr. Bertalan Mesko, director of The Medical Futurist Institute, believes that by 2050 patients will “become the point of care”, administering healthcare via their own apps and devices rather than travelling to a medical facility for treatment.

“The hierarchy of the doctor-patient relationship is transforming into an equal partnership,” he says. And Mesko believes that government legislation needs to keep pace with this change.

“When patients find out that there’s a solution technologically for their health problem, they will not wait for regulators to come up with a solution. They will make those solutions themselves.

“It’s possible for a government to come up with a digital health policy […] that focuses on the cultural aspects of the changes technologies initiate.”

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