INSIGHT: How Kiwi businesses can lead in the digital race

"To be successful you need to be rigid on your goals but flexible on your methods."

It has been evolving for a while and now there’s no escaping it. For a business to compete successfully with its rivals, it must embrace digital and analytical technology.

“To be successful you need to be rigid on your goals but flexible on your methods,” says Chandan Ohri, CTO, KPMG New Zealand.

Advanced digital technology, Data analytics, BI, these are the new tools for businesses, and employed in conjunction with the right processes and people, greatly improve a business’s chances of success.

The burgeoning demand for data analysis skills is reflective of the shift in how technology is being used to achieve business results.Data security is another essential component for building and maintaining market confidence.

“Success in this rapidly changing environment is about speed and efficiency rather than cost cutting,” Ohri adds.

“Pragmatic companies realise that change is happening at a dizzying speed and they are trying hard to keep pace.

“The IT function needs to be more pervasive and agile than ever before and business needs to adopt cloud computing and the virtual environment.”

According to Ohri, the C suite is recognising the new normal and evolving to adapt.

“It falls under the collaborative purview of the executive team to ensure that the organisation adopt current technology and gain the advantage that arises from such adoption,” he explains.

Ohri believes that the CTO must have the ability to recognise the next BIG thing and encourage its permeation through the organisation to gain the early bird advantage, adding that “one person’s noise is another person’s data.”

Role of the CDO?

Ohri says that changes in the ways of collating and analysing information and in the digital space at large, have led to greater focus and prominence of the CIO and relatively new CDO roles.

Among the CTO’s current top priorities are, improving business processes and operational efficiencies, delivering consistent and stable IT, delivering business intelligence / analytics, better engagement with customers/prospects and reputation management via social media, while the CDO shoulders the responsibility of information management, delivering quality data and helps minimise digital disruption.

A relatively new phenomena with no established best practice, digital disruption is being faced by an increasing number of companies and each one is trying to combat it in its own way.

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Ohri believes that cyber-attacks are a serious and very real threat (only 23 percent of CIOs globally, believe they are ‘very well’ prepared for an attack) the recent cyber-attacks on big corporations have revealed the vulnerability of businesses and the widespread damage such attacks can cause to operations and reputation.

“Boards and executive teams are increasingly becoming aware that cyber-attacks are not just a technology risk, but a real business risk,” Ohri adds.

For Ohri, New Zealand companies too, have also been dealing with their share of security headaches such as zero day malware and open source.

“There is also the imperative need to safeguard SDN, mobile users and IP appliances,” he adds. “These concerns are not inhibiting the ability of businesses to innovate.”

According to Ohri, the US, characterised by its gargantuan market and databases focuses on data aggregation, while New Zealand, with its predominantly small to medium business landscape, is determined to make data analytics work with more customer insights and benchmarking.

“The old ways of capturing market share and improving profitability are fast becoming obsolete and Kiwi companies are taking notice of the rapidly evolving business environment,” he claims.

“They are enthusiastically incorporating new practices and processes even though change can sometimes be difficult and expensive.”

To maintain and augment their position, Ohri believes companies in New Zealand are changing their practices around data management, and building confidence and reliance on BI and social listening as their tools of choice to remain relevant in a rapidly digitising environment.

“As advanced data analytics becomes more mainstream, businesses in New Zealand are being able to analyse data more speedily and cheaply,” he adds.

“Like all things new, there is much trial and error and everyone is in a race to find the best solution to the digital challenge.”

Industry analysts predict that the IoT (Internet of things) will balloon to 26 million connected machines by 2020 with countries like China and Korea at the forefront of this revolution and New Zealand not too far behind.

“New Zealanders have adopted the Internet with ease and enthusiasm and over 84 percent of kiwis are now connected,” Ohri adds.

“The habits and interests of customers have undergone a sea change and business owners have realised that even the best advertising is only effective when there is a receptive audience.

“The race is on to meet and influence consumers where they congregate. On the Internet.”

Ohri adds that KPMG New Zealand is “unreservedly embracing” this trend towards digitisation and is poised to lead the pack in the digital technology space.

“KPMG envisages that its early adoption and current expertise in this space will give it the edge to lead the field in digital technology and analytics for a long time,” he adds.

“2015 will present challenges but I am optimistic and looking forward to an exciting year.”