Capgemini Keynote at Oracle OpenWorld 2014 Highlights Urgency of Tech-driven Business


Just a few days ago, the researchers at consultancy Capgemini released a report that showed how social media is growing in importance in terms of customer engagement. Watermark Consulting revealed the results of analysis illustrating companies that have embraced technology for enhancing customer experiences stocks out-perform companies that do not. In his keynote address on the third day of Oracle’s massive OpenWorld 2014 gathering now going on in San Francisco, Dr. Didier Bonnet, senior vice president and global practice leader at Capgemini Consulting (and executive sponsor for Capgemini's digital transformation offering, which includes a five-year joint research collaboration with the MIT Center for Digital Business at the Sloan School of Management), connected the dots.

Dr. Bonnet, co-author of what is sure to be a forthcoming popular book, Leading Digital:  Turning Technology into Business Transformation, started with the observation that: “Technology is the biggest thing in business today.  We are at an inflection point. If you can’t integrate tech into your business you will not succeed.”

The talk was obviously centered around the findings illuminated in the book. That said, the description was enough to make me get on line for the hardcopy edition and it seems destined for bestseller status.  As, Bonnet pointed out, the bottom line really is the bottom line here.  What he and co-authors George Westerman and Andrew McAfee found in looking at 400 global companies around the world who are part of the 94 percent of global GDP not accounted for by Apple, Google and Facebook, are two important things:

  • Companies which were identified as “Digital Masters”, i.e., are relying on technology to drive business transformation that are now well-established, are more profitable than those who are not. Digital Masters are part of the authors (seemly mandatory now) quadrant for ranking performers which include: “Fashinistas” who try everything new; “Beginners” just getting their toes wet; and “Conservatives” who are what the phrase implies.
  • Regardless of vertical market or geographic location, every sector already has Digital Masters and they are out-performing the other groups in terms for revenue generation efficiency by 26 percent. This is why Bonnet feels the book should be a call to action for CFOs and CEOs.

Indeed, on the latter point, he says this gap on revenue efficiency, given the acceleration of the pace of technologic innovation and its ability to disrupt markets, is why the inflection point postulated is real and becoming a Digital Master if you are not is urgent.

Bonnet and his colleagues found in their research that mobile, analytics, social media, sensors, and cloud computing have already fundamentally changed the entire business landscape around the world.

He had three provocative quotes that are worth noting. 

  • “Digital transformation is messy.”
  • “Digital Technology will remain the endless agitator of the business world.”
  • “You ain’t seen nothing’ yet”

The last one refers to the coming impact/disruption that will occur as a result of things like 3D printing, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and wearable technology. The message was if you cannot create a culture that embraces change and leverages technology to accommodate it, you will absolutely suffer the consequences. The advice is that companies need to adopt a clear, two-part framework for business transformation:

  1. Have a vision about where to invest in digital capabilities
  2. Have top down executive leadership for the realization and execution of that vision

The book shows what it takes to become a Digital Master. It explains in detail the steps necessary to get there which include:

  • How to engage better with your customers
  • How to digitally enhance operations
  • How to create a digital vision
  • How to govern your digital activities

The book also includes an extensive step-by-step transformation playbook for leaders to follow. As Bonnet noted, “The good news is that there are Digital Masters and the bad news is there are very few.” He could have added that the bad news is actually good news for those who have yet to really take the business transformation plunge.  

Bonnet was generous with the audience in sharing some insights from the book. These included the three buckets and their relative importance when it comes to investing in transformation: customer experience (understand the customer, top line growth, customer touch points, etc.); operations (process digitization, worker enablement, performance management); and business model transformation (digitally modified businesses, new digital businesses, and digital globalization). He delved slightly into each at a high level, which is why I can’t wait to get my eyes on the book.

Interestingly, and despite much of the discussion here at OpenWorld about Oracles own transformation to more of a cloud solutions provider, the focus on leadership has become a common refrain. In fact, as Oracle CEO Mark Hurd noted in his keynote on Day 2, “The World Will Be All About People.” This means the people who are positioned correctly to deliver the future and we who will be on the receiving end.

The term transformation hopefully will not become hackneyed. Without naming the company, a few decades ago a major communications company had a sign over its cafeteria that said it would be the leaders, “before, during and after the transformation.”  I asked a CIO visiting this company what they thought of the sign and the response is one worth remembering, “There is no before, during and after. It is a journey. The real trick is trying to understand what the customer wants and deliver it better than anyone else fast.”  Those are words which in the now accelerating world in which we live where real-time is now almost too slow and the goal is to automate as much as possible and speed things up to get better insights and provide even better service, which are even more important. In fact, as Bonnet noted, what aligning IT with business objective better and leveraging technology to create competitive advantage throughout the entire stack, transformation is a journey and if you do not understand that this is necessity and not nicety and have leadership that can make it part of your DNA, the risks are huge and so are the rewards for those who get with the program.  

Image of Dr. Didier Bonnet courtesy of Capgemini Consulting

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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