EXCLUSIVE: European businesses say digital transformation is critical to success
European business leaders agree that digital transformation is critical to their future success, yet a survey published today by Fujitsu reveals that most companies lack a clear strategy for reaching this goal – and the majority still see the whole digitalization process as a gamble.
The year 2016 is widely tipped by industry pundits as the “year of digital transformation”, and three quarters of organizations agree it is a business priority. Gartner analyst Michael Burkett confirms: “Digital business is shifting from a future strategic vision by IT leaders and digital leaders to providing a real competitive edge today.”
Fujitsu’s research reveals a huge amount of industry-wide optimism in digital transformation. Executives are confident in their own organization’s ability to progress transformation projects and the overwhelming majority are in favor of moving even faster. There is also widespread agreement that failing to digitalize fast enough will lead to a sweeping range of penalties including loss of productivity, reduced business responsiveness to the market and problems with customer retention and loyalty.
Although it is clearly recognized that digital transformation impacts the top line, in terms of how organizations create value for their customers, Fujitsu’s research also uncovers huge disconnects in terms of strategic priorities for digital projects. Among the key findings:
- One in three respondents agrees that digital priorities are fully aligned within their organization
- Every second business leader thinks digitalization is a job best left to the IT department
- One in three executives think they are already over-spending on digital projects
- Only one in four is “extremely confident” in advising on the right choices.
“When you scratch the surface, business optimism on digital transformation in fact looks more like bravado,” said Duncan Tait, CEO, EVP and Head of EMEIA at Fujitsu. “Digitalization is clearly hugely beneficial to businesses, although the current sentiment is more about conflict, confusion and imbalance. Fujitsu’s research has clearly identified that only one in every four IT decision makers are actually confident in their digital decisions, and two in every three even consider their digital transformation projects to be a gamble.
“Digital transformation is increasingly core to societal and economic stability and in order to thrive, businesses will need to accelerate the pace at which they bring technology and new ideas together,” adds Tait. “However, the lack of clear ownership and conflicting priorities is a barrier to success. Fujitsu is focused on supporting customers on their journey to digital transformation and in enabling customers to achieve balance, both in order for them to thrive in a digital world as well as to transform their businesses without disruption.”
Fujitsu defines transformation as bridging the digital disconnect through the seamless integration of new front-end experiences with processes and information at the core operational level. This process is fundamental to future business, yet many companies clearly fail to appreciate the risks of attempting a poorly-planned implementation. Finding the right balance is unique for every customer, instead of being a linear process or about doing one thing or another.
What’s more is that in order to be truly digital, organizations must be digitally-enabled from end to end, by building new digital front-end experiences and seamlessly connecting these to the back-end systems and infrastructure that enable them.
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”