Drawing on Dickens’ Christmas Carol we have identified three key themes for Chief Digital Officer Africa 2019; these could also be readily defined as The Good, The Bad & The Ugly of digital transformation. Simply put, these are three nightmares that come back to haunt most Chief Digital Officers, Chief Information Officers and Chief Technology Officers. Although impacted in slightly different ways, each of these needs to be dealt with almost every day, with the hope of finding resolutions to them soon enough.
The Ghost of Digital Past: Cloud Computing
Back in 2006, Eric Schmidt, then Google CEO, coined the term “cloud computing”, and ever since it has galloped along to be the de facto for many start-ups, tech vendors and digital businesses. Be it Infrastructure-as-a-Service (Iaas), Platform-as-a-Service (Paas) or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), increasing numbers of companies are choosing the benefits. What still exists are fears around data security and integrity, system compatibility and vendor lock-ins; however, these can easily be alleviated.
Why is Cloud Computing the ghost of digital past? Not only has it been around for quite some time, often under a shroud of mystery, cloud’s agility, cost-savings, scalability and lack of physical constraints are driving adoption faster than ever before. If you don’t act now, or at least seriously consider the switch, you may be quickly left behind your competitors. Remember, no regrets!
The Ghost of Digital Present: Skills
Skills, or should I rather say, the lack thereof. This is probably at the heart of what keeps you up at night, what will likely keep you up tonight, tomorrow night and for many nights to come. All the technology in the world cannot make up for the massive global skills shortage we are experiencing. Perhaps we are putting the cart before the horse, but these skills exist, these people exist, but like every precious resource, they are rare, in high-demand and cost a small fortune. Although the skills issue is being addresses more now than ever, will it be enough?
Forget about the talent you will bring into the organisation, how on earth do you improve the skills and retain the talent you have right now? Are we able to accurately identify skills required, keep employees motivated, and find solutions that won’t break the bank (or morale)? Without pandering and throwing money at the problem (which usually doesn’t work), will the skills shortage nightmare ever end?
The Ghost of Digital Future: IoT
Paraded around for some time now, IoT is currently repositioning itself for a welcome return; although this time entrenched across many sectors and verticals, not simply industrial applications. Our future looks like an interconnected, always-on, data-driven explosion of products and associated services. The union of the real and digital worlds will become increasingly muddied into one homogenous state, and no business can be left behind. But with this convergence comes a cosmic can-opener to peel back the lid of a giant can of worms. Do we know where to start? Will it make or save money? Cost and implementation time are major hindrances, but how will we know data will be safe, how do we build trust in customers? With so many unknowns still to explore, IoT (and all its variants) will continue to develop around us and likely to explode within the next three to five years.