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Digital Business Agility Should Be Company Priority

While digital transformation is an overused phrase, companies should focus on bringing agility to operations says an EY consultant.

Brian Buntz

March 9, 2020

3 Min Read
digital business agility
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When deploying emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things, experts advocate patience.

They often recommend starting small, and calculating return on investment as a long-term payback, over multiple years. After all, a significant number of digital transformation programs fail to live up to expectations, as the Harvard Business Review noted. 

While deliberation is important, organizations with digital transformation programs should look for ways to step on the accelerator rather than the brakes, said Aleksander Poniewierski, global Internet of Things (IoT) leader and partner at EY, who is a finalist for an IoT World Leader of the Year award. “Speed is a common need,” he said. 

The pace of emerging technology requires constant focus. “Even if you look at traditional computing power, we are jumping over traditional limits because of quantum computing,” he added.  The capabilities of artificial intelligence computing are also doubling every 3–4 months, according to Stanford’s Artificial Intelligence Index Report 2019, making it vital for organizations to embed artificial intelligence (AI) in core processes sooner than later. 

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Aleksander Poniewierski

Organizations should also harness the powers of technologies including AI and IoT by deploying them in tandem.  “You shouldn’t try to implement an IoT use case or an AI use case in isolation,” said Poniewierski, who recently published the book “Speed: No Limits in the Digital Era” on the subject. 

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Optimizing digital business agility also requires considering a change in priorities, Poniewierski said. “The most important question you need to ask yourself, your staff and board members is, ‘How much are you able to change your values?’” he added. “Digital brings a completely different horizon.” 

Recent EY research  concludes that customer focus should be a core consideration when determining the speed of business change. A digital transformation initiative’s potential to drive short-term revenue is often not carefully considered enough, according to Poniewierski.  “Whether we are talking about the Internet of Things, blockchain or artificial intelligence, technology needs to be deployed to generate money at the outset,” he said. “And in today’s market, new forms of revenue are the holy grail.” 

Partnerships can accelerate technology deployments. “Think of speed dating. Meet your partner and work together on one solution or one service,” Poniewierski said. “If the partnership doesn’t work out, move on.”  

Of course, working to accelerate a digital transformation initiative without considering cybersecurity can be dangerous. Security and privacy should be priorities from a project’s outset, Poniewierski stressed. Reaching a high level of security maturity is challenging, however. “In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, security is not something organizations can buy off the shelf,” he said. “We don’t know how to fully protect AI or IoT. Trust is something you need to develop and offer to your partners, clients and staff. Everything depends on what you want to protect.” 

About the Author(s)

Brian Buntz

Brian is a veteran journalist with more than ten years’ experience covering an array of technologies including the Internet of Things, 3-D printing, and cybersecurity. Before coming to Penton and later Informa, he served as the editor-in-chief of UBM’s Qmed where he overhauled the brand’s news coverage and helped to grow the site’s traffic volume dramatically. He had previously held managing editor roles on the company’s medical device technology publications including European Medical Device Technology (EMDT) and Medical Device & Diagnostics Industry (MD+DI), and had served as editor-in-chief of Medical Product Manufacturing News (MPMN).

At UBM, Brian also worked closely with the company’s events group on speaker selection and direction and played an important role in cementing famed futurist Ray Kurzweil as a keynote speaker at the 2016 Medical Design & Manufacturing West event in Anaheim. An article of his was also prominently on kurzweilai.net, a website dedicated to Kurzweil’s ideas.

Multilingual, Brian has an M.A. degree in German from the University of Oklahoma.

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