Category Archives: Digital Transformation

Acxiom joins Salesforce AppExchange to transform personalised experiences

Customer intelligence company Acxiom has joined the Salesforce AppExchange Genie Collection, empowering brands to better understand their customers, drive personalisation at scale and unlock new opportunities that accelerate business growth. Brands today are expected to know their customers, anticipate their needs, and engage in ways that are personalised, relevant, and contextual. A data-first approach is… Read more »

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Asda chooses Veeam to mitigate risk of multi-million-pound retail downtime

Asda has selected Veeam Availability Suite to provide effective backup and restore for mission-critical systems. Following its divestiture from Walmart in early 2021, the supermarket chain has taken responsibility for protecting the large, virtualised infrastructure that underpins its business, and Veeam, a specialist in backup, recovery and data management solutions, has enabled it to do… Read more »

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Tara Seppa, Microsoft: How to Leverage Digital Disruption


Tara Seppa, Azure Solutions Sales Director at Microsoft discusses how Microsoft is adapting to the era of digital disruption and how other companies should approach digital transformation. For example, Rolls Royce, a one-hundred-year-old company, embraced digital transformation and approached this disruption in a way that helped the company. They began utilizing Microsoft’s Internet of Things platform to optimize fuel, reduce maintenance calls, perform predictive analysis on their engines and much more. Check out the video to learn more.

[Download our recent webinar, How the Cloud Is Killing Traditional Help Desk, to learn more about the shifting needs of cloud era end users, the questions that should be asked, and solutions to common cloud-era Help Desk challenges.]

Dish Network is Thriving Because of Transformation

Today I was working from home and waiting on the repair of a recalled Samsung washer (if you don’t know about the recall the washer can “explode” under heavy load on fast spin cycle, click here). When the repair technician arrived in a Dish Network van and sporting natty Dish Network attire, you can imagine my head was spinning (get it? washer humor!).  Of course, the first thing I did was ask the technician why Dish Network was performing this service.  His answer is the reason for this post.

Home pay network television delivered by traditional cable or satellite is on a downturn with the advent of internet streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and HBO Go.  Dish Network has built a large field services capability that today is under-utilized due to slowdown in their core services.  While many organizations may have scaled back on their services and cut their teams to only what was necessary to service current customers, Dish saw an opportunity to expand their value and brand by instead leveraging what they had spent millions building.

Dish branched into services areas that they had no direct expertise in.  You could say that at the time they had the core ability to perform these services but no specific knowledge of how to complete the tasks.  What they did have was capacity in the form of people, trucks, equipment, and customer service and logistics experience.  And by combining that ability with capacity you get a new capability

Ok, but what does this have to do with IT?  It’s simple, really.  The type of transformation that Dish services are undertaking is in response to market demands and a need to optimize the investments they have made in their core service delivery.  IT can learn a valuable lesson from this by creating new ways for their delivery capabilities to service their constituents.  For example, if you have an IT help desk that is manned 24/7, why wouldn’t you enable that team to perform infrastructure tasks or administration duties during down time?  This can be achieved via development of Knowledge Centric Services (KCS) methodologies and has the added benefit of averaging down the costs of performing those tasks.  Or, maybe, because the help desk has the soft skills necessary to interface with users, they can become a vehicle for advancing user training or community adoption of policies such as security awareness.

Likewise, in the operations teams, if the user community (“market”) is consuming cloud services (“shadow IT”), what really is the lift for IT to regain control of these new compute and service assets?  With today’s service platforms such as Vistara and on-demand, consumption based services for SysOps and DevOps, the old traditional barriers for IT operations, are greatly reduced.  The teams you have invested in can acquire new delivery skills through service brokerage without giving up control or governance.  Sometimes, all it takes is finding the right partner to do that delivery on your behalf.

And that is the story here.  Samsung had a need to fix 3 million washers in the US, therefore they brokered the service to Dish Network because of that company’s capability.  Not because Dish is known as the appliance repair mecca of the free world, but because they had all the tools and resources necessary and could be educated to perform the actual task.  And while a Dish service technician may not have gotten into his career to fix washers, he recognized an opportunity to expand his skills and retain his value to his employer.

You can now have your smartphone screen repaired in your home via a Dish technician, and soon, Dish might be installing your homes solar panels.  By expanding their vision of what it means to be valuable to their customers, and leveraging what they already had invested in, they have expanded their market and created new revenue streams.  IT can do this too, by taking off the traditional operational blinders and re-imagining a future state where all of the business technology requirements can be fulfilled simply and effectively through an expanded services portfolio.

With the advent of next-gen technologies, aaS offerings, and self-healing infrastructures, many in IT operations may feel that their days are numbered, and that their value is slipping.  However, it doesn’t need to be this way.  The future of IT operations is bright, as long as you are willing to expand your horizons and adapt to the “new normal” of information technologies consumption, and just as importantly user expectations.


Click here to learn about how modern IT Help Desk approaches and how cloud platforms and a tech-savvy workforce have fundamentally changed the support game

By Geoff Smith, Director of MS Business Development


How Digital Transformation Is Driving the Way We Consume Applications

Right now, we’re in a stage in the IT evolution where we are seeing tectonic shifts throughout the industry as they relate to digital transformation. In this video, Simon Johnson, VP of Client Services at GreenPages, discusses how digital transformation is driving the way we consume and provision services and applications and changing the way IT provides the base infrastructure for these services. From the way we consume applications through smartphones, laptops, and tablets, to the platforms they’re built on, the digital transformation has enormous ramifications from an operational, design, and go-to market perspective.


Or watch the video on our YouTube page

To learn more about implementing hybrid cloud solutions, email 

By Simon Johnson, VP of Client Services, GreenPages Technology Solutions


IBM adds EZSource to bolster transformation capabilities

IBM2IBM has announced its intention to acquire EZSource as it continues efforts to build its offerings in the digital world. The additional of EZSource is touted as a means to bolster IBM’s capabilities to aide enterprise organizations in their digital transformation journey.

With a substantial proposition of companies targeting a hybrid cloud proposition within the next 12 months, developers are looking for new ways to reconcile the applications that reside on enterprise systems of record to digital forms of engagement such as mobile and social. As the majority of production IT workloads run on the mainframe, connecting these applications with mobile and cloud applications is important to increase customer engagement. This can be a time consuming task however.

EZSource provides a visual dashboard of an applications lines of code to show developers which have changed to ease the process of modernizing applications, exposing APIs and better leveraging development resources. EZSource’s application discovery technology will be coupled with IBM’s current DevOps offerings to enable developers to evolve legacy assets within the overall digital transformation strategy quicker, the company claims.

“The mainframe is the backbone of today’s businesses. As clients drive their digital transformation, they are seeking the innovation and business value from new applications while leveraging their existing assets and processes,” said Ross Mauri, GM of IBM z Systems. “By adding EZSource’s technology to our enterprise DevOps and API management offerings, we are making it easier and faster for developers to modernize key applications that previously were manually intensive and many times required specialized skills.”

Financials of the agreement have not been released, though this is the 14th acquisition of an Israeli business made by IBM since 1998. The last acquisition, Trusteer in 2013, was for more than $600 million.

What did we learn from PwC’s local government survey?

City HallPwC has recently released findings from its annual survey, The Local State We’re In, which assesses the challenges facing local government and their responses to them, as well as looking at public opinion on the organizations capabilities.

Here, we’ve pulled out four of the lessons we learnt from the report:

Data Analytics is top of the agenda for CEOs and Local Government Leaders

A healthy 91% of the Chief Execs surveyed confirmed Data Analytics was an area which they were well equipped. This in fact was the most popular answer for this specific question, as other areas such as business intelligence (59%), supply chain management (55%) and information governance & records management (40%) fared less so.

While it is encouraging the leaders are confident in their team’s ability to perform in the data analytics world, the research also stated local government’s use of structured and unstructured data varies quite considerably. 71% of the Chief Execs agreed they were using structured data (e.g. information in government controlled databases), whereas this number drops to 33% when unstructured data (e.g. social media and data generated through search engines) is the focal point of the question.

As the consumer continues its drive towards digital and the connected world, the level of insight which can be derived through unstructured data, social media in particular, will continue to increase. Back in 1998 Merrill Lynch said 80-90% of all potentially usable business information may originate in unstructured form. This rule of thumb is not based on primary or any quantitative research, but is still accepted by some in the industry. Even if this number has dropped, there is a vast amount of information and insight which is being missed by the local government.

But data driven decision making isn’t

Throughout the industry, data driven decision making has been seen as one of the hottest growing trends, and also as the prelude to the introduction of artificial intelligence.

Despite the media attention such ideas are receiving, it would appear these trends are not translating through to local government. Only 41% of the respondents said their organization is using data analytics to inform decision making and strategy. It would appear local government is quite effective (or at least confident) at managing data, but not so much at using it for insight.

Digital Device Tablet Laptop Connection Networking Technology ConceptPublic is not confident in local government’s ability to embrace digital

Although leadership within the local authorities themselves are happy with the manner in which their organization has embraced digital, this confidence is not reflected by the general public.

76% of Chief Execs who participated in the research are confident in their own digital strategies, however only 23% of the general public are confident in the council’s ability to manage the transition through to digital. This is down from 28% in the same survey during 2015 and 29% in 2014. The findings could demonstrate the rigidity of government bodies, especially at a local level, as it would appear the evolution of emerging technologies is outstripping local government’s ability to incorporate these new ideas and tools.

There is also quite a significant difference in how the public and the Chief Execs view cyber security. While only 17% of the Chief Execs believe their organization is at risk from cyber threats, 70% of the general public are not confident local government will be able to manage and share their personal information appropriately. 2016 has already seen a number of high profile data breaches which could have an impact on the opinions of the general public. If tech savvy enterprise organizations such as TalkTalk cannot defend themselves, it may be perceived that public sector organizations are less likely to do so.

However, local government does have the backing from the public to invest in digital

The general public would not appear to currently have great confidence in the local government’s current ability to embrace the digital age however they have seemingly given their blessing for the local government to continue investments.

39% of the general public who completed the survey highlighted their preference for engagement with local government would be through a digital platform, as opposed to the 24% who would prefer the telephone and 28% who would rather engage in person. Unfortunately, while digital is the most popular option for engaging, only 37% were satisfied with the current digital access to local government, down from 38% in last year’s research.

Salesforce reveals secret recipe for digital transformation

Salesforce 1Speaking at the London edition of Salesforce’s world tour, EVP of Customer Success & Growth Simon Short outlined the case for digital transformation, and also the factors which underpin a successful transformation project itself.

Short’s view on digital transformation is there are very few companies who achieve the goal of becoming digitally orientated. This is done to three reasons. Firstly, the aggressive expansion of technology is so vast some organizations are drowning in information overload. Another is the cultural side of digital transformation, there simply aren’t enough companies embracing the necessity of cultural change. And finally, despite implementing various technologies and advanced platforms, some companies still operate in silos. Until these digital silos are connected on one overarching platform, the digital transformation journey is not complete.

The invention of chess is a good anecdote to demonstrate the progression of technology. The inventor, Ibn Khallikan, approached the Indian king with the game and his reward was to be rice, more specifically one grain for the first square on the chess board, two for the second, four for the third, and doubling there on until the end of the 64 squares. Although at first it would not appear to be a great amount, the geometric progression of the amount of rice far exceeded the king’s resources. Short believes the same theory can be applied to the growth of technology in the business world.

“If you apply the same doubling theory and Moore’s law to the growth and importance of technology, we get have way through the chess board in 2002,” said Short. “Since then we’ve seen an explosion of technology within the business world. As we continue to move forward, it’s a real challenge for those with existing technology to make the change and get ahead of the trend. No one really knows what the power of technology is and where it will go. This is the conundrum for businesses throughout the world.”

One of the main challenges here is focused around legacy technologies, businesses cannot rid themselves of the cumbersome platforms quickly enough to capitalize on the potential on emerging technologies. But at the same time, Short highlighted the companies who focus on technology implementation and do not embrace the cultural change required will not be successful in the digital transformation journey.

Salesman painting tree instead of cityAccording to Short, digital transformation is so much more than simply implementing technology. Ensuring you employees embrace the digital change, as well as connecting the individual silos (for example the eCommerce platform to the customer call centre and also the logistics/delivery team), are more important aspects of the project than the technology itself. Without the digital culture and the connected model, the customer simply sees a business which is broken even if the technology is revolutionary. “Silos and culture are the two things which can kill any transformation project,” said Short.

But what is the secret to a successful digital transformation project? And what have the successful ‘Digital Masters’ done which other companies haven’t?

For Short, the project has to be led by the CEO and has to be phased in. The various different components of the project (business change, strategy, technology implementation, employee digital engagement etc.) have to be implemented hand-in-hand. If one area progresses faster than the rest, the project will stutter. And most importantly, there has to be a governance and accountability role, an area which most companies overlook, to ensure all components of the project are heading in the same direction and progressing at the same speed. In general, there are six lessons from Short’s and Salesforce’s perspective:

  1. Change has to be led from the CEO and not delegated down. The business unit and IT cannot get into a shouting match, pointed fingers at each other, the CEO needs to take control and pull the business along with him
  2. Physical and digital experience needs to be co-ordinated. The customer experiences the brand in the physical world as well as the digital despite the growth of the internet and technology; the physical and digital experience for the customer needs to be co-ordinated to be successful
  3. Outside-in thinking. Many companies make the mistake of telling their customers about how they are changing the brand, as opposed to understanding what the customer journey is and adapting the digital experience to enhance this.
  4. Understanding it’s okay to fail. This is one of the more challenging facets according to Short, as accountable businesses don’t like to fail. But the belief every PoC will be an extraordinary success is somewhat wishful thinking. Short highlighted being okay with failure is the only way to move on and achieve success.
  5. Data driven insights. The amount of data available to businesses is unprecedented and growing faster every day. Decisions should be based on the data available which has been derived directly from the customer. It removes uncertainty (as much as possible in any case) and provides justification.
  6. A single platform to connect the business units. Without a single platform to connect all business units, digital transformation cannot be achieved, as digital transformation should focus on the connected journey. The aim should be the seamlessly interact with the customer on all their touchpoints.

Digital transformation is a key objective for the majority of businesses around the world, and rightly so. According to MIT research which Short quoted on stage, digitally transformed businesses are 26% more profitable than what would be perceived as the norm, but too many companies are focusing on the technology as opposed to the customer. Until the ideas of culture, technology and silo connections are addressed on a level playing field, digital transformation cannot be achieved.

Accenture and IPsoft team up to launch AI initiative

Robotic hand, accessing on laptop, the virtual world of information. Concept of artificial intelligence and replacement of humans by machines.Accenture has expanded its partnership with IPsoft to accelerate the adoption and implementation of artificial intelligence technologies.

As part of the relationship the team will launch the Accenture Amelia Practice, a new consulting arm for Accenture which will develop go-to-market strategies using the IPsoft’s product offering to build virtual agent technology for customers. In the first instance, the team will target the banking, insurance and travel industries.

“Artificial intelligence is maturing rapidly and offers great potential to reshape the way that organisations conduct business and interact with their customers and employees,” said Paul Daugherty, Accenture’s CTO “At the same time, executives are overwhelmed by the plethora of technologies and many products that are advertising AI or Cognitive capabilities.”

“With our new Accenture Amelia practice, we are taking an important step forward in advancing the business potential of artificial intelligence by combining IPsoft’s world-class virtual agent platform with Accenture’s broad technology capabilities and industry experience to help clients transform their business and operations.”

The extended partnership will focus on creating practical implementations for AI within the current business world, using automation at scale to increase organizational efficiencies. The IPsoft team have implemented the same concept with a number of customers including programs to answer invoicing queries from suppliers and front-line customer service bots.

Artificial intelligence is seemingly one of a number of new areas being prioritized by the Accenture team, as industry continues trends towards a more digitally enabled ecosystem. Recent research from highlighted the digital economy accounted for roughly 22% of the world’s total economy, with this figure predicted to rise to 25% by 2015. This figure was as low as 15% in 2005. The same research also predicts growth of new technology will continue on an upward scale, as 28% of the respondents believe the pace of change will increase “at an unprecedented rate”.

While Accenture’s business has predominantly been focused around traditional IT to date, the team’s future business will shift slightly towards disruptive technologies, building on its new business mantra ‘Every Business is a Digital Business’. AI is one of those prioritized disruptions, as it described artificial intelligence and intelligent automation as the “essential new co-worker for the digital age”.

It would appear Accenture are betting heavy on these new technologies as it claims 70% of executives are making significantly more investments in artificial intelligence technologies than they did in 2013, and 55% state that they plan on using machine learning and embedded AI solutions (like Amelia) extensively.

Rackspace CTO: no-one is bigger than the software revolution

Rackspace - John Engates

Rackspace CTO John Engates speaking at Rackspace: Solve 2016

While the concept of cloud computing has been normalized to a degree, the industry is now leaning towards the perceived benefits which can be derived from the technology on the whole. For the majority of companies who are evaluating cloud technologies, reducing CAPEX and OPEX simply isn’t a strong enough business case anymore.

This is certainly the case for Rackspace CTO John Engates. In fact, we’re starting to see the beginning of a new trend which will define the future of a vast number of organizations, the ability and desire to experiment. Those who can experiment with new technology, and are prepared to fail, will succeed. And those who don’t, won’t.

Although there can be savings made through the transition to a cloud environment, early adopters are now looking beyond. Cloud will underpin the growth and success of the new wave of next generation technologies, whether it is virtual reality, artificial intelligence or autonomous vehicles. The early adopters are already defining how these technologies will take their business to the next level, though the risk for the rest is how far they will get left behind is they don’t get up to speed quickly.

“Cloud as a technology is just about hitting the mainstream now,” said Engates. “Everything pre-2015 has been early adopters, but for mass markets it was business as usual.

“The main problem is that the majority of these companies are two or three steps away from the cloud. The cloud is not about saving money, but freeing up your developers so they can experiment with new technologies, learn new language and take the company forward. If you’re not thinking about these technologies now, how far behind are you. And you’re probably going to be in a very difficult position in a couple of years.”

Blockbuster is a classic example. Blockbuster and Netflix were in a similar position pre-digitalization, as most people now forget Netflix initially rose to fame through the delivery of DVD’s to its customers through the post. Fast forward to the digital era, where Netflix evolved and created its current market position, one in which a number of major player are now trying to emulate, and Blockbuster no longer exists.

For Engates, this example highlights the importance of experimentation. Netflix was a company which allowed its developers to play with new technologies and methods of delivery, whereas Blockbuster attempted to hold onto the traditional model. This will be the same for other verticals in the coming years, those who embrace the new digital era, adapt their models and allow their developers’ freedom to innovate will continue to be competitive, those who don’t will take the same route as Blockbuster.

Sports woman overcoming challenges“The successful companies of the future will be software companies,” said Engates. “They may not sell software but they will use it as a means to define their business and be creative in the marketplace. The likes of Google, Facebook, Uber and Netflix are all software companies. They aren’t people companies or infrastructure companies, they are software. If you want to compete with these companies you need to get better at creating the software experience.”

Nike and Under Armour are two more companies highlighted by Engates. While both are lifestyle and sportswear brands, both have had to create a digital experience to meet the demands of customers. A few years ago industry giants such as Nike and Under Armour were too big to be bothered by such trends, but the cloud computing era has levelled the playing field. No-one is bigger than the software revolution.

“I think that companies have to enable some of their organization to be innovative and to be creative,” said Engates. “Most of IT has been behind the wall; they haven’t been innovators, they’ve been keeping the lights on. It wasn’t about transforming the company into something new and different that was product development’s job or marketing. But today, inventing the new it-thing means you have to have a digital component, to connect with you users through your mobile device.”

Mobile devices are now redefining business and consumer attitudes. For the most part this is how the consumer connects with new companies; it’s almost exclusively digital and if you’re company is not embracing this, Engates thinks it won’t be too long before you’re not relevant.

But will companies take those risks? “Not all of them will,” said Engates. “Not every company will make that leap. The ones that don’t will be left behind. Now even banks are starting to do this as you’re starting to see more automated investing and digital advisors. Why would you need to go to the branch if you can do it over the phone?”

For innovation to occur within an organization, the conditions have to be right. In the majority of large scale organizations, innovation is very difficult to achieve. There are too many risks, too much red tape and too much politics. The notion that a new idea might not succeed, or reap short term benefits, scares the board and stakeholders, which in turn will inhibit innovation. It’s a difficult loop to get out of, and for a number of larger, stodgy organizations, it will be immensely difficult.

“The reason cloud is so important is because to innovate you need to be using the most modern tools, for example data science, continuous integration, containers,” said Engates. “You need APIs to interact with, you don’t want to wait six weeks on a server. You want to experiment and do things quickly. If you want to do analytics, you need storage and compute power; you need to have the cloud.

“A lot of the people who want to work on these projects have a lot of options. There are a lot of smaller companies who have these conditions to be innovative, so they attract these developers. Companies have to adapt to them, not force them to adapt to the company. Decision makers need to change their organization to have the modern environment for these developers to work in, to be innovative and to make the company competitive in the digital era.”