I spoke with Sanjay Brahmawar, CEO of Software AG, about how connecting people, processes and technology enables a company to become a truly connected enterprise. This enables greater value from business data – and a significant competitive advantage.
The following is an abbreviated transcript – see the podcast and video below.
What is a truly connected company?
When you think about most companies today, they already have a lot of data they’ve created because they’ve been in business for many years. The challenge is that this data is actually in a rather disparate landscape: it’s on certain on-prem applications, it’s in the private cloud, it’s in the public cloud; it is now created on the edge.
And this is the biggest challenge for companies: how do you bring this data together to give access to the business so that the business can use the data, whether that is with the help of analytics tools or allows certain activities in real time?
So to do all that, you have to access that data, you have to give the availability of that data to the company. And that’s why a truly connected business becomes really important. And the companies that invest in that kind of digital transformation and are really on their way to becoming TCEs can move from products to services.
They are able to create a competitive differentiator, they are able to really support their own companies for growth.
See also: Digital Transformation Guide: Definition, Types & Strategy
How do companies encourage the transition to a connected culture?
First and foremost, it is very important to create the vision: where exactly are we going? Where do we take the company? How can we better serve our customers? How are we going to win more in the market?
And so it is very important that everyone in our company buys in the Why† Why are we doing this? And that’s the first step. And then of course it’s very essential to have a viable roadmap for people to see: what are the milestones? How do we achieve that?
We adopt certain technologies, we change the way we work. We’re starting to implement that and we’re gaining more in the market. So it’s about creating that path to get there, and then being consistent about the execution on that path.
If you think about our own journey in Software AG, we have a company that has turned a 50-year-old company into a sustainable, profitable one. But getting there was about planting the flag and then defining a roadmap with clear milestones to get there.
What about the idea of the digital backbone? How does that support a TCE?
When you think of organizations, everyone talks about becoming a software company. Why do they say they should become a software company?
Well, it’s because you need a certain level of digital infrastructure, on which you can build your value-added services, on which you can build your applications, on which you can deliver more services to your customers.
So if you don’t have that digital infrastructure, you’re going to struggle to deliver these capabilities or have that differentiation in the market. And this is what we mean by digital backbone, we mean those infrastructure capabilities that are essential to build upon.
And in our case, we support our customers with hybrid integration and API management, which is the ability to connect applications, cloud-to-cloud, grant the business access through APIs, data integration, smart data pipes, moving data between different locations to places like Snowflake, Databricks, and so on.
There’s business transformation, which really addresses the point I said, how do you change your processes? How do you do process mining and assess the data in your process to optimize it? And finally IoT, which basically connects external assets or mobile assets and collects the data. So this way of managing data from your apps, from your devices and from your processes, that’s what we call a digital backbone.
See also: Best data analysis tools
So let’s look to the future. One of the problems with data is that some companies want to disseminate it widely, but they also maintain silos for the sake of compliance. How will this problem shift in the future?
Data privacy and how we handle data, whether that be data from companies or individual consumers, is a very important aspect of how we deliver and how we support our customers. Here in Europe we have GDPR, so we have learned a lot from GDPR in terms of how we can really deliver services respecting data integrity and data privacy requirements.
I think this will continue to evolve, it’s a space where we’re going to get more and more understanding. We will also know where data sharing actually delivers real benefits and real value, and where in some cases data sharing is something that individuals or organizations don’t want to do because they don’t believe that enough value is being created.
So I think this balance between where data sharing is really helpful and where it doesn’t really help is something that we learn over time. I truly believe that the more data we can share, the more collaborative services can be delivered.
I think edge will become more and more important, so I think intelligence on the edge and the ability to make decisions at the edge will become more and more important. So with 5G and IoT, the combination really allows us to do more.
See also: Trends in real-time data management
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