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Unisys Study: “Executives committed to digital business despite security concerns and execution challenges”

by Brian Sims

A recent survey sponsored by the Unisys Corporation shows a strong commitment among executives towards adopting a digital business model, with the cloud seen as the key enabler. However, the study also indicates that security concerns and “tepid execution” complicate the ability of these executives’ organisations to deliver on that commitment.

Conducted for Unisys by IDG Research*, the study polled 175 IT and business executives in Europe and the United States on the initiatives their organisations are undertaking to capitalise on the convergence of social, cloud, mobility, data analytics, the Internet of Things (IoT) and security in order to drive new business models and engage, enable and support what’s now an increasingly ‘tech-savvy’ workforce and customer base.

Nearly three-quarters (72%) of the respondents agree that it’s critical or very important for an organisation to modify IT processes and resources to support a digital business model. That represents an increase of seven percentage points (up from 65%) from the response to a similar question in a Unisys-IDG study conducted in October last year.

The respondents clearly see the value of the cloud as the linchpin in an IT infrastructure that enables digital business. Indeed, they report that more than half (55%) of their organisations’ applications are already deployed in a cloud environment.

Moreover, the respondents indicate that their organisations are seeing positive results from initial cloud and digital initiatives, with improvements over the last 12 months in multiple areas, including data security (56%), user experience with applications/services (44%), IT efficiency (42%) and infrastructure performance/availability (41%).

However, the executives questioned show greater trepidation about their organisations’ ability to build quickly on that initial success. For example, fewer than one-in-five (15%) of respondents indicate that their organisations currently have the “extremely flexible/nimble” attributes required to implement a digital model that enables them to capitalise fully on future business opportunities. 

Gap between aspiration and execution

Those insufficiently robust capabilities could pose a challenge in areas the respondents see as priorities over the next 12 months. For example, 88% cite data security in the cloud as a top priority for competitiveness in the digital world, while only 32% cite significant progress, creating a gap between aspiration and execution of 56 percentage points.

Similarly, less than a third of respondents report significant progress in other areas key to digital business, from creating scalable/predictable IT environments (24%) through to gaining a high level of visibility into IT environments (32%). These shortfalls may slow progress at a time when it should be accelerating.

On the plus side, the study shows that the respondents who consider their organisations extremely flexible and nimble (and more aggressive in adopting the cloud) more frequently report benefits from the use of cloud apps than the aggregate population of respondents.

Nearly three-fifths (59%) of respondents who identify their organisations as extremely nimble say they’ve seen improved data security (versus 56% of those who don’t), while 56% of the same group state they’re seeing improved speed in terms of business decision-making. By contrast, only 18% of those who identified their organisations as less nimble have seen improved speed of decision-making.

There’s also a significant disparity between those reporting improved user experience with applications and services. More than half (52%) of the extremely nimble group reports this benefit, while only 38% of the less nimble group can say the same.

Respondents in extremely nimble organisations are also more likely to report improved customer experience through the integration of infrastructure and applications with IoT.

Present and future business challenges

“This research points the way forward for organisations to become more nimble and successful in capitalising on both present and future business challenges,” observed Steve Nunn, vice-president of Cloud and Infrastructure Services at the Unisys Corporation.

“Digital business is all about finding innovative ways to empower workers and customers,” continued Nunn. “The organisations that will prosper in the new order are those that most quickly become focused, proficient and flexible in integrating and securing the cloud, the IoT and other key digital technologies to drive new levels of service.”

*IDG Research surveyed 175 IT and business executives in the US (125) and Europe (17 from the UK, 17 from Germany and 16 in France) in June 2016. The executives involved are affiliated with organisations of 1,000 employees and above

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