Irish enterprises are struggling with digital transformation

Ger Perdisatt, Microsoft (Image: Microsoft)

Though feeling the need, many don’t under stand the why, says Microsoft’s Pedrisatt

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4 July 2019 | 0

Irish enterprises are feeling the pressure to transform, but are not sure how to go about it, while many are unsure as to why they should. According to Ger Perdisatt, director, Enterprise Commercial Group, Microsoft Ireland, there is very strong impetus to do digital transformation, but often there is a lack clarity as to why the change is necessary.

“When you start bringing it back to ‘why is it you feel you need to transform, you need to change shape and you want to use digital means to do that,’ it tends to be a big struggle,” said Perdisatt.

“It is the organisation’s ability to assimilate that change that is a bigger determinant of whether any of these digital transformations work”

Speaking to TechPro, Perdisatt said customers often expect Microsoft to want to talk to them about technology, whereas the conversation should start elsewhere.

“What we want to talk to them about is how to change their culture and their operating processes, because ultimately, we know the technology works, but actually, it is the organisation’s ability to assimilate that change that is a bigger determinant of whether any of these digital transformations work.”

Dictating terms

The ability to assimilate change is important, said Perdisatt, even with external pressures, because there is still a view among customers that they can dictate the terms of the disruption a little bit more than they actually can.

“As all sorts of industries increasingly digitise, the barriers for entry just completely fall away,” he said.

He cites financial services as an example, arguing they used to be the preserve of very large organisations. “Now you have fintechs, globally, popping up and offering amazing value-added services to customers,” said Perdisatt.

“Knowing you need to change is one thing, knowing what that means for you and whether your organisation can actually adopt it, is a very different thing.”

There are other challenges too for organisations, such as the pace of technological change driving a different pattern of adoption and utilisation.

“Some of the tangible things that organisations have been really challenged by are, and this is characterised by cloud in particular, is the ability to assimilate that constant drip-feed of innovation.

“Whereas previously, you would encounter a problem and you would come up with a solution that would involve some technology, and that would be steady state for five or seven, or even 10 years. Now you are in a situation where technology is constantly evolving and the ability of your people to assimilate — what’s the latest we can do, what are our customers asking for, what are our competitors doing? — is constantly changing,” said Perdisatt.

“These are some of the biggest challenges we are seeing with customers. That balance of the cultural transformation that you need, as well as the constant evolution of technology.”

Showing success

When asked what could be done to help organisations that have not necessarily understood the need for, or the extent of, change, Perdisatt said Microsoft’s approach is to show them success.

“The best way we do it is to peer them with customers in other markets who have started with the same imperative, they know what it is they are trying to do, but are perhaps 6-12 months ahead, and are able to look back a bit for the benefit of those not yet there,”  he said.

A big element of Microsoft’s own transformation was sharing the knowledge and the journey to allow partners and customers to benefit too, he adds. 

“What we are seeing with Irish companies is that they don’t benchmark themselves domestically, they don’t inspire themselves domestically. So, bringing in other customers to both inspire and challenge works really well.” 

“We strongly encourage the customers who come in to talk to do it warts and all,” said Perdisatt.

Demystifying transformation

Perdisatt said it is important to demystify the concept of digital transformation. “For us, it is becoming a pretty fatigued and hackneyed term.”

“We break it down into four key things, regardless of what disruption is going to look like over the next couple of years, that we think organisations are going to continue to need to do.”

“Empower employees to do their best work; continue to engage customers in innovative ways that have impact; optimise operations, running the business as effectively and securely as possible; and transform the products and services they offer.” 

“When we talk to customers to see things through those lenses, rather than the esoteric concept of digital transformation, you can immediate drop that down into specific initiatives in a specific business unit that you are fixing a specific problem for.” 

“When you are able to point it at a more targeted level you are already on a better footing.”

Perdisatt said that Microsoft advocates starting small, learning, iterating and then moving on. 

“Organisations can be used to a very traditional way of engaging with technology, where they tend to have multi-year, monolithic projects.

“Where we work most successfully with customers these days is where we try a variety of different things and find out what kind of approach works best.”

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