OVER recent months, Jason Ward has witnessed Irish businesses prove they can quickly adapt to change.
“We have experienced nine years of digital transformation in nine months,” he says. “From the use of Cloud technology to help transform their business models to the latest devices enabling remote working, the past year has seen organisations embrace technology like never before in a rapid acceleration in digital transformation across all areas of the economy.”
The 2020 Digital Transformation Index of 4,300 business leaders in Europe and across the globe unveiled by Dell Technologies recently highlights this trend. Eight in 10 organisations have fast-tracked their digital transformation programmes this year, and 79% are using technology to reinvent their business model.
“The vast majority, 89%, recognise that as a result of disruption seen over the course of 2020, they need more agile IT infrastructure to allow them to better navigate any future uncertainty.”
Irish businesses increasingly understand and appreciate that new technologies will enable them to remain agile during challenging times, and which has been particularly evident over recent weeks.
“SMEs across the retail sector have harnessed the opportunities unlocked by e-commerce to help them keep connected with customers and provide them with goods and services they need, particularly during the latest restrictions in the run up to Christmas. New technologies will not only enhance the resilience of Irish businesses, but they are also critical in fuelling their future growth.
“That is one of the main reasons why our team at Dell Technologies have been working with Ireland’s applied AI centre, CeADAR, to put in place a new supercomputer named Leon.”
Leon will help start-ups and scale-ups to engage in Big Data and Artificial Intelligence research projects that have the potential to transform business and society.
Outlining the main drivers encouraging Irish businesses to adopt technology at rates not seen before, Jason lists working from home initiatives, increasing cyber threats, and the need to transform business models.
“Faced with the urgent need to protect the health and wellbeing of employees and comply with government guidelines, businesses found themselves in a position of having their entire workforce operating from home.
“In many instances, their supporting tools were not designed for such large-scale remote interaction and engagement. This has resulted in businesses turning to technology to continue meeting the needs of customers while keeping their teams connected.”
Since first rolling out its Connected Workplace programme in 2009, Dell Technologies were quick to adapt to remote working.
“Flexible working has become standard practice for our team members with our senior leaders, including Michael Dell, driving a change in how we view work — it is what you do and not a place you go.
“Many organisations have traditionally viewed IT as a cost centre and not as a value driver for their bottom line, he points out.
“Now, with most businesses, employees and customers moving online and creating a digital presence, organisations must invest in IT. It is a case of transform or become irrelevant”.
Although the pandemic has accelerated the pace of change, continuing transformation at speed will be challenging.
“Our Digital Transformation Index has shown that a lack of resources is the second most cited barrier to embracing technology — second only to data privacy and cybersecurity concerns,” says Jason. “That is why earlier this year Dell Technologies put in place our Payment Flexibility Programme with 0% financing for 24 or 36 months to help customers and partners.
“Through the $9bn in financing available to SMEs and other businesses globally, it has helped Irish businesses to harness the opportunities of a remote workforce and invest in their digital future while also preserving liquidity.”
Beyond businesses, the company has also enabled Ireland’s education community to keep pace with advancements in new technology, and recently teamed up with Cork Institute of Technology on a new Artificial Intelligence platform.
“It will help power their research capabilities that in time will transform the way we live, work and do businesses. Our teams have worked closely with the team at CIT to better understand their needs and put in place a high-performance computing solution that can drive more accurate research results and prepare for our AI-enabled future.”
Earlier this month, the company commenced a series of virtual events to mark the Dell Technologies Forum 2020. Businesses leaders, IT experts, and transformation thought leaders in Ireland joined in the opportunity to gain the latest insights ranging from Cloud and AI to remote working and innovating through data.
With three campuses in Dublin, Cork, and Limerick, Ireland has become a global hub for its range of services, including sales, services, centres of excellence solutions development, manufacturing, supply chain operations, and engineering.
“From testing new solutions through to cutting-edge 5G research, Dell Technologies Ireland is in a unique position to drive innovation for customers at every step of the digital transformation journey.
“Our talented teams across Ireland are making digital transformation a reality for organisations, and our Innovation Lab in Limerick, which is now a virtual customer experience, showcases how AI, 5G and other new technologies can deliver business value as we create digital cities and develop connected healthcare services. We are always looking for top talent to support our go to market plans and business growth agenda.”
Despite the significant challenges faced across all sectors of the economy in 2020, Jason is optimistic about the company’s data-driven future. “Workers and leaders have been very quick to adapt to remote working and find new ways of doing business,” he says. “This unique capacity to embrace transformation can be a key ingredient of success going forward.
“In the next decade we will see an 800% increase in of applications on the edge and smart devices, while 52% of global GDP will be accounted for by digitally transformed businesses. It is estimated that there is 40 Zettabytes of data in the world in 2020 which will grow to 175ZB by 2025 with more than five billion internet users.
“This represents a massive opportunity for Ireland to become a digital transformation leader globally. But this will require organisations across the private and public sector to accelerate the pace of change in 2021. I’m confident that by reaching the next level of technology adoption, Irish businesses can drive Ireland’s recovery in 2021 and run full speed ahead into a data-drive decade.”